n.o.n.u.k.e.s. film&talk vol.06


Saturday December 1, 2012 6:30PM

Cage, 83A Hester Street, New York, NY 10002 [MAP]

Subway: F to East Broadway, B/D to Grand Street

$5 suggested (no one will be turned away for the lack of fund)


[Download flier]

After the devastation of WWII, Japan realized a miraculous economic growth, largely due to the unprecedented industrial success. During this process and after its downturn, there have always been two dark elements which have not seen the light; 1) the existence of day-workers and their efforts for constructions and developments in exchange for their precarious and oppressed living conditions; 2) the introduction of nuclear energy in the country despite having experienced the first nuclear attacks in history. Today in the post-Fukushima paradigm, we aim to examine and discuss the structural common ground between the two.


1985 | 110 min | In Japanese with English subtitles
Dir. Mitsuo Sato and Kyoichi Yamaoka
It was produced during the zenith of the economic growth, most effectively documenting the harshest class struggle, continuing under the surface of the cultural dominant of Japan’s postmodernity. In Tokyo the area stretching from Taito Ward to Arakawa Ward was formerly called Sanya. (Locals refer to this area as “Yama”.) Today, Sanya is a place where day laborers come together to live and find work. These laborers usually do what their employers tell them, and are often targets for exploitation by yakuza gangsters and right-wing groups. But the workers decided to form a labor union and begin to fight for improved working conditions, and it was this that director Sato Mitsuo tried to capture with his camera. However, the strike became a violent clash between workers and gangsters, and on the eleventh day of filming Sato was stabbed to death by a member of the yakuza. After the funeral was over, and the confusion of not having a director had passed, the task of completing the film passed on to Yamaoka Kyoichi (a key player in the labor disputes), and the production and exhibition committee. This film takes us around the country to several gathering places in Kotobuki-cho, Kamagasaki, Sasajima, and Fukuoka, showing us the struggle for the cause of day laborers who are dying in poverty. Unfortunately, after filming was completed, and just prior to the premiere screening, the second director Yamaoka Kyoichi was shot to death. Both directors of this film were murdered.

1995 | 30min | In Japanese & English
Dir. Nicholas Röhl
The story follows the photojournalist/ anti-nuclear activist Kenji Higuchi as he exposes the exploitation of the “untouchables” who were pulled out of the slums of Tokyo and Osaka in order to work while exposed to radiation, often without their knowledge. Referring to the tacit cooperation and close ties between the Japanese government and the country’s nuclear industry, a man notes in one scene that “democracy has been destroyed where nuclear power stations exist.” The film shows how Japan, having suffered nuclear attacks in the past, remarkably transformed itself within a few decades into one of the most “nuclearized” nations worldwide.

A discussion will follow the two films.


Photo: Kenji Higuchi

Suggested Readings:

Directors’ Notes, Bio, Synopsis etc. at (2004)

Call for a New Campaign to Build Refugees’ Commune by San’ya Workers Welfare Center (03.25.2011) |『山谷からの声明』by 山谷労働者福祉会館活動委員会/山谷争議団/反失業闘争実行委員会(2011年3月21日)

Notes on the 4.5 Great Kamagasaki Oppression and Nuclear Power Industry by Takeshi Haraguchi (04.14.2011) | 『4・5釜ヶ崎大弾圧と原発を考えるための覚え書き』 by 原口剛 (2011年4月14日)

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Exchanging Thoughts Since 3.11 Great Eastern Earthquake & Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

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