Famous directors denounce sexual abuse in Japanese cinema

FILE - Director Miwa Nishikawa poses for portraits in the film

FILE – Director Miwa Nishikawa poses for portraits for the film “Nagai Iiwake” (Long Excuses) at the 11th Rome Film Festival in Rome on October 18, 2016. A #MeToo crisis is raging. in the Japanese film industry. A petition signed by major names, including Cannes Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda, Cannes Jury Prize winner Koji Fukada and “Under the Sky” director Nishikawa, expresses outrage at sexual abuse. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

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A #MeToo crisis is raging in the Japanese film industry.

A petition signed by major names, including Cannes Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda, Cannes Jury Prize winner Koji Fukada, and “Under the Sky” director Miwa Nishikawa, expresses their outrage over sexual abuse.

“These acts are inexcusable,” the statement said, calling for them to stop.

The outburst comes after the release of two Hideo Sakaki-directed films, “Mitsugetsu” and “Hazard Lamp,” was suddenly canceled after a Japanese magazine, Shukan Bunshun, reported on allegations of sexual violence by multiple women. .

His producer reported sexual abuse and announced that Sakaki had left. Sakaki apologized in a statement to fans and coworkers for the cancellations, while pointing out inaccuracies in the report, which he did not specify.

Actor Houka Kinoshita has put his career on hold after two women accused him of demanding sex against his will a decade ago. A television drama series aired earlier this week with all of its scenes removed.

“I am unable to come before you and continue my entertainment work after what I have done, and will be taking an indefinite leave of absence,” Kinoshita said in a statement.

Accusations have also been made against Shion Sono, a director who has been honored at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Sono, who directed “Himizu” and “Cold Fish,” apologized but stopped short of admitting guilt, instead vowing to take “some kind of action” against Shukan Josei, the magazine that reported accusations that he had sexually abused several women.

“I would like to reexamine my ways, taking seriously the lack of awareness I have shown as a director and to those who work around me,” Sono said in a statement this week through his office.

“But there are a lot of claims in the report that go against the facts.”

It may not be surprising that #MeToo is proliferating in a nation that ranks 120th for gender equality, far behind other Group of Seven industrialized nations, according to a study by the World Economic Forum.

Still, the moment, when “Drive My Car,” directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, has just won its first Oscar for Japan in 13 years, couldn’t be more tragic.

The directors who sign the petition and others say the problem is a long-standing open secret in the film world. What is changing is that victims are speaking out, instead of suffering in silence.

When film jobs are so competitive to begin with, including assistant director, editing, wardrobe, translation, production, not just acting, the problem runs deep.

The statement by Kore-eda and other directors denouncing sexual assaults emphasized that movies cannot be made alone and require a crew.

That means empowered people must respect everyone as a partner, the directors said.

“We directors, regardless of individual abilities or personalities, especially, must unerringly realize that our position of directing other people inherently carries profound violence, and therein lies that potential that makes it all too easy for us to victimize others. others due to our overwhelming power. ,” they said.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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