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‘Oppenheimer’ hits nuclear-scarred Japan 8 months after U.S. premiere


Watch”OppenheimerIn the Oscar-winning biopic about the father of the atomic bomb, which opens in Japan on Friday, Okuno was stunned by scenes of scientists celebrating the Hiroshima bombing with thunderous stampings of their feet and waving American flags.

Ms Okuno, 22, said seeing the jubilant faces “really shocked me”. Ms. Okuno is a kindergarten teacher who grew up in Hiroshima and is a peace and environmental activist.

Eight months after Christopher Nolan’s film became a hit at the U.S. box office, “Oppenheimer” is now giving Japanese audiences another American look at one of the most harrowing events in Japanese history.

The film follows J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team as they make groundbreaking discoveries before the United States launches the first attack of the nuclear age on Japan.The film won seven Oscars last month, including best picture.

Ms. Okuno, who watched the film in Tokyo on Saturday, lamented that it did not reflect the experiences of hundreds of thousands of atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

“It’s terrible that this movie was released around the world without a proper understanding of the impact of nuclear bombs,” she said. As for Oppenheimer’s regret expressed in the second half of the film, “If he really thought he had created World-destroying technology,” she said. “I wish he would have done more with it.”

Bitters End, the Japanese independent distributor releasing the film, said in a statement in December that after “much discussion and consideration,” it decided to release “Oppenheimer” because “the themes it touches on are very important and It has special meaning to us Japanese.”

Long before the film was released in Japan, potential viewers angry American fans appear to be trivializing the atomic bombing through a fusion of images of “Oppenheimer” online and the movie “Barbie”papenheimer” meme.

Mindful of domestic sensitivities, some theaters in Japan have posted trigger warnings and used signs to alert audiences to scenes that “may remind audiences of the damage caused by atomic bomb blasts.”

However, some critics said they appreciated the film’s release in Japan. “We cannot create a society where it is impossible to watch, think and discuss,” wrote Yasuko Onda, a member of the editorial board of Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily. “We can’t narrow our eyes when watching movies.”

While some, including atomic bomb survivors, have protested the exclusion of scenes from Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Yuhito Yaguchi, an American studies professor at the University of Tokyo, said “Oppenheimer” simply reflects a conventional view and ignores many other perspectives. Narratives, including Native Americans whose land was used for nuclear testing.

Mr. Yaguchi wrote in an email that the film “celebrates a small group of white male scientists who truly enjoy their privilege and love of political power.” “We should pay more attention to why such a rather one-sided “The White Man’s Story Will Go On.” draws attention and adulation from the United States, as well as what it says about current politics and the larger politics of memory in the United States (and elsewhere). “

Some viewers who saw the film over the weekend said they realized it had another story to tell.

Tae Tanno, 50, who watched the film with her husband in Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city, said her attention was focused as Oppenheimer began to realize the devastation he and his fellow scientists had wrought On Oppenheimer’s antipathy.

“I really thought, oh, he did feel that – a sense of remorse,” Ms. Denno said.

Kazuhiro Maeshima, a professor of American government and political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, said this depiction of moral conscience may reflect changes in American public sentiment.

A few years ago, a film depicting the guilt of the atomic bomb’s makers might have been unpopular in the United States, where the narrative circulated that the bomb averted a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland and saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers. , Mr. Maejima said.

For example, in 1995, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington radical cuts The exhibit displays part of the fuselage of the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Veterans groups and some members of Congress objected to parts of the proposed materials that cast doubt on the U.S.’s rationale for abandoning the bombs.

“Thirty years ago, people thought the dropping of the atomic bomb was a good thing,” Mr. Maeshima said. “Now, I think there is a more ambivalent view.”

In Japan, audiences may now be more willing to watch a film that doesn’t focus on the victims, nearly eight years after the end of World War II and eight years after Barack Obama became his first president. The President of the United States will visit Hiroshima.

Kana Miyoshi, 30, is a native of Hiroshima. Her grandmother was 7 years old when the atomic bomb fell, and her father and brother were killed in the attack. She watched the film with her parents in Hiroshima on Saturday.

Like other viewers, Ms. Miyoshi was shocked by the scenes of celebration after the atomic bombing, but said they should not be condemned. “This is reality and we can’t change it,” said Ms. Miyoshi, whose grandmother died. About three years ago, at age 83.

Many Japanese support nuclear disarmament, but Japan does not have nuclear weapons of its own and relies on the so-called U.S. nuclear umbrella for protection. North Korea strengthens its nuclear arsenal, and Russia threatens Japan to use tactical nuclear weapons. Ukrainian experts say “Oppenheimer” could spark discussions about nuclear deterrence as the United States approaches elections that could significantly alter its commitment to global alliances.

“Japan’s stance on nuclear weapons has a lot to face,” he said. Jennifer LindAssociate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, specializing in East Asian security issues. “The timing of this movie is so fascinating that it makes them think, ‘What is our national policy?'”

Japanese peace activists also saw fodder for discussion in “Oppenheimer.”

“This is a great opportunity to think about nuclear weapons from a very international perspective, because in Japan the nuclear weapons issue is often told through the story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Akira Kawasaki, a member of Peace Boat’s executive committee. Japanese non-profit organization that operates social cause-oriented cruises.

Kawasaki said Oppenheimer provided a potential warning as scientists develop artificial intelligence and other potentially disruptive technologies that could be misused by governments.

“Scientists are very vulnerable, very weak in the face of all these forces. One person cannot be strong enough to fight these things,” Mr. Kawasaki said.



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