A new documentary film about the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, also known as 'comfort women', takes a different apprach compared to other films on the same subject matter.
Instead of focusing on testimonies from the victims, the film is composed of a series of interviews from Japanese, South Korean and foreign scholars and activists,… compiled over three years.
Following the argument from both sides, the film uncovers the nefarious side of the Japanese neo-nationalists who sometimes throw personal insults at the vicitms.
Dezaki who worked 5 years in Japan as a teacher, became curious as to why Japanese neo-nationalists wanted to whitewash their country's history.
That's when he learned about Takashi Uemura, a former Asahi Shimbun reporter who received heavy flak for an article he wrote on the issue.
"I felt very connected to his story because I was bashed also for my videos on racism in Japan. So I was just curious why they wanted to erase this history of the comfort women issue and just like they wanted to erase my video."
Starting off as a graduate school project, the film was invited to the Busan International Film Festival last year and gained international spotlight.
"I understood from the very beginning that my background as a Japanese-American was a huge factor in making the film. I don't think I would have gotten a lot of the interviews I got had I not been Japanese-American. So, the fact that I was a male Japanese American really appealed to a lot of people in that I was kind of like a third party."
He explains that knowing the context of the comfort women issue is the key to finding a solution for both Japanese and Koreans and hopes that his film will provide a good introduction to the complicated issue.
The film will be released in theaters in Korea on July 25th, but it already screened in Japan since April to surprisingly positive reviews from the publicthough Japanese neo-nationalists were not happy with their interviews in the film and even sued the director.
"People who didn't know about the issue at all are saying that they really appreciate that the film was made and that they can understand this issue on a deeper level. So, the reception has been really really good in Japan. It's a positive thing because otherwise if people don't talk about it, people don't know about it, and there's no way that the situation can change."
Regarding the recent trade sanctions adopted by the Abe government in protest of the forced labor issue, the director expressed his deep regret.
He said human rights issue should not be dealt with in such manner, at least not in the manner currently being shown by the Japanese government.
However, just as the director hopes, a constructive discussion seems to be taking place already.
Tokyo University has invited students from Seoul to watch the film together and have a discussion in August.
The director will also go on a tour of universities in the United States in September and October to present the film to wider groups of audiences.
Lee Min-sun Arirang News.