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Tokyo's cinemas drop Chinese documentary

Latest update : 2008-04-02

The Chinese documentary 'Yasukuni' has been cancelled from Tokyo's cinemas after Japanese nationalists expressed anger. The film looks at the controversy surrounding the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.

Four more Japanese cinemas have cancelled planned screenings of an award winning documentary by a Chinese director about a Tokyo war shrine, the movie's distributor said Monday.

Three cinemas in Tokyo and one in Osaka have cancelled plans to show "Yasukuni" from April 12, Argo Pictures announced.

The documentary by film-maker Li Ying looks at the controversy surrounding the Yasukuni shrine, which was built in 1869 and now honours 2.5 million war dead -- including notorious war criminals from World War II.

The site has become a rallying point for Japan's far right, while in much of Asia it is seen as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Humax Cinema Inc., the operator of Ginza Cinepatos in central Tokyo, cancelled its planned screenings because it "could cause inconvenience to neighbouring commercial facilities," executive manager Akio Nakamura told AFP.

"We cannot tell what will happen," he said without elaborating.

A number of Japanese lawmakers took the rare step last month of holding a private advance viewing of the film, which was made partially through an arts grant from Japan's government, although they denied any attempt to censor it.

Another Tokyo cinema had already decided in mid-March not to show the movie, citing a "problem in its screening schedule."

The 120-minute film looks at the shrine through the viewpoint of an ageing maker of swords that were traditionally used by Japanese military officers.

It won the best documentary award at the Hong Kong International Film Festival earlier this month.

"What I am hoping to do with this film is look at history and help people to realise that there are different sides to every story," Li told AFP last year at the Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea.

Date created : 2008-04-02

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