©The Japan Times

April 9, 1998


Movie paints Tojo in different light

The Associated Press

Yuko Iwanami was 10 when her grandfather, Gen. Hideki Tojo, was hanged by the Allied war tribunal in 1948 for leading Japan into World War II.

For 50 years, her family kept a white box filled with the belongings the general left in his Tokyo prison cell on Dec. 23 as he headed off to the gallows: two pencils, a cigarette box and a lock of his hair.

Iwanami, 60, brought that box with her to a news conference Monday to announce the release of the movie “Pride,” a movie about Tojo’s trial and execution that Iwanami said finally challenges the image of the wartime prime minister as a villain.

“The truth was erased” during the Allied occupation of Japan after its surrender in 1945, Iwanami said. “My grandfather was not as bad as people say he was.”

Tojo became prime minister in October 1941 and gave the final go-ahead for the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 that brought the United States into the war.

He stepped down in 1944 to take responsibility for the fall of Saipan, which put Japan’s home islands within range of U.S. bombers.
The movie’s cast said they wanted to correct what they called misconceptions, including the idea that Japan was the sole aggressor. Tojo, they claimed took Japan to war in self-defense.

I’ve seen enough movies about all the bad things Japan did (during the war) to make me burp,” said actor Masahiko Tsugawa, who plays Tojo. “No one says that Japan did something good.”

But the movie has Tojo liberating Asia from control by white people.

As Japanese troops marched across Southeast Asia in 1941 and 1942, the countries they occupied were all colonies of Europe or the United States.

Historians credit the defeat of Western armies at the hands of an Asian power with inspiring the independence movements that later expelled Western colonizers once and for all.