Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Veteran documentarian and former assistant director for Kaneto Shindo, Minoru Matsui directs this horrific, sobering historical document consisting of 14 Japanese veterans confessing their bloody participation in Japan's war against China, starting with the rigged Manchurian incident in 1931 to Japan's eventual defeat in 1945. As described in the film, the soldiers believed their superiors' commands to be an articulation of the emperor's will. Blind obedience was expected; individual thought was brutally suppressed. New recruits quickly learned that the Chinese were not to be thought of as, much less treated like, humans. Chinese peasants were often used for bayonet and target practice. As civilian massacres became a primary means to control the countryside, soldiers were ordered to murder, torture, rape, and loot. Those who showed signs of reluctance were shunned. Meanwhile, the infamous Unit No. 731 performed biological experiments and vivisections on particularly unlucky Chinese soldiers. As the war turned against the Japanese and supplies dwindled, the Japanese army butchered Chinese civilians for food. This film was screened during the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
Japanese [nationality], war-atrocities, China, confession [admission], massacre, veteran [military], murder, violence, loot, rape, torture