Op 22 augustus a.s. een uitzending van NHK world van Children’s Tears~Searching for Japanese fathers. Zie de link
MOESSON (Augustus 2016)
Voorvertoning 't Hoogt 5 december 2014
Gold Award in Jakarta 17 september 2014
Children’s Tears~Searching for Japanese fathers
Yuki Sunada is een cineaste wonend en werkend in Kyoto. Zij heeft filmopleidingen genoten aan de University of California en van Londen waar zij haar Master diploma behaalde in ‘documentaires’. Zij werkt bij een internationaal reclamebureau in Japan als mediamanager en is daarnaast zelfstandig producer en documentairemaker. Ze heeft al vele korte films op haar naam staan. De bekendste is ‘Dear Grandfather, I am in England.’ Deze film won een prijs voor beste documentaire in Engeland in 2004. Onderwerp van de film is de strijd in Birma tussen Japanse en Engelse militairen, met de persoonlijke invalshoek van Yuki: haar grootvader nam daar deel aan de strijd. Zij geeft hierin tevens aandacht aan de naoorlogse toenadering tussen veteranen organisaties van de voormalige vijanden. Hun ontmoetingen zijn in de film opgenomen. Dit aspect maakt deze documentaire des te interessanter.
Yuki is in haar werk geïnteresseerd in de nasleep van WO II in Japan en de effecten op de naoorlogse relaties van Japan met het oog op verzoening en vrede. In 2005 en volgende jaren interviewde zij voor het (Japanse) Nationale Archief Japanse veteranen. In dat verband leerde zij de Japanse ex-journalist en Java-veteraan Kaoru Uchiyama kennen. Vandaar kwam zij in contact met Japans Indische nakomelingen in Nederland. Dit heeft uiteindelijk geleid tot het maken van de film Children’s Tears. Daarin combineert zij de WO-geschiedenis met de thematiek van het zoeken van de onbekende of afwezige Japanse vader.
In de 56 minuten durende documentaire worden ‘hoofdrollen’ gespeeld door Nippy Noya, Ron Meijer, Mary Dehne en Kaoru Uchiyama, die sinds 1995 de vereniging JIN heeft geholpen bij het zoeken naar vaders. Yuki was in 2013 de drijvende kracht achter de organisatie van een concert van Nippy Noya met zijn Japanse achternichtjes dat door vele nakomelingen, vrienden en relaties werd bijgewoond. Die gebeurtenis is in de film verwerkt. Op 5 december 2014 organiseerde JIN een voorvertoning van haar film voor J.I-nakomelingen genodigden in het filmtheater ‘Hoogt in Utrecht (zie foto hiernaast ).
De film is inmiddels voor het publiek vertoond in Tokio en Kyoto, in Jakarta (Gold Award), Los Angelos, en in Hirado. De film komt nog niet op dvd uit omdat filmhuizen en -festivals dit als voorwaarde stellen. Op de Japanstalige Facebook pagina is te volgen hoe het verder gaat. Klik hier.
De bekende BBC journalist Fergal Keane:
“Yuki Sunada’s film is a haunting and heartbreaking story of children’s loss in a time of war. It should be watched by all who care about the effect of war on humanity.”
Translation of text (Moesson August) with some (JIN-) comments between brackets [ ]
It took the Japanese director Yuki Sunada seven years to complete her documentary. Starting in 2008. She was working on a documentary on British POW’s in Britain when she heard for the first time about the existence of JI-descendants. Now she has won prizes in Indonesia and Japan [for Children’s Tears], but in Holland no interest so far. [The film in England was called ‘Grandfather, I am in England’ (2004) and its subject was veterans from England and Japan from the Birma War, also meeting each other; Yuki’s own grandfather was in the Birma war.]
“It took a year before I could see the footage again. It was too emotional for me. My body could not digest the testimonies.” In the end the film contains three interviewees: MD, RM and his mother, and the success-story of Nippy N. (see for his story also August 2006 in Moesson). He found his Japanese family Nagata [=Nakata] and was accepted with love. But he is the exception. The three ‘children’ (nearly 70 in the film) were born out of love relations between Japanese soldiers and ‘buitenkampers’, but still they wrestle with their descent. [The term ‘soldier’ is a cliché that journalists like to use; 95% of JI-descendants were born on Java and their fathers were mostly NCO’s, officers and civilian military (gunsoku); on Java the number of military men was ca. 54.000 and the number of gunsoku ca. 12.000. The word ‘buitenkampers’ is also a widely used term; but one should keep in mind that on Java ca. 70.000 Indo-European women were not interned, compared to ca. 25.000 mostly ‘Dutch’ (white) women in camps]. The proverbial ‘child of the enemy’ had to deal with a lot of grief: the exclusion by childhood friends, the subtle or not so subtle rejection by their stepdad, or the pain at the very discovery that the loving father is not the biological father. On top of this there are the unrevealing mother’s stories and the letters of rejection by half-brothers and -sisters from Japan. “I will never know the truth” is the lament of one of the characters. [Meaning apparently the question whether the by research traced father is really the biological father. The majority of traced Japanese families however have shown sympathy for searching children (27). Only 12 Japanese families refused explicitly contact. More important, at least 50 JI-descendants still have no clue whatsoever, apart from what the mother or her family (have not) told them. These numbers are based on my research published in the 25-year-anniversary JIN-program booklet dated May 1, 2016, and on the JIN site].
One little mistake
Yuki S was told of the JI-descendants by mr Kaori Uchiyama. He is a 90-y-old-veteran, during the war stationed at a radio-unit, and the man in Japan for the vereniging J.I.N. and the foundation Sakura. Searching for fathers he tries to penetrate into the Japanese bureaucracy, because the first problems start already at the correct spelling of the name. One little mistake and the request application is turned down, and that is after 70 years mind you. [This presentation is a bit misleading. The mothers and children face(d) a real language problem. A slight difference in pronunciation (f.i. Matsu(m)oto) may lead to completely different searching directions. This is not a problem of formal-bureaucratic-attitudes. This is shown by the writer Mrs. Yu Takei, who wrote in 2013 the nonfiction book ‘Oranda kara no shiro iraijo’; the blank request forms from Holland’. She shows also that K. Uchiyama, a former journalist, had the genius, energy and the drive to make something out of nothing. The real problem -with indeed bureaucratic ramifications- was and is the protection of privacy of the fathers. This is not typical of Japan. Children born of war in Europe have similar problems]. The problem of JI-descendants is no priority for the Japanese government, the parents were in fact not married and their children are only half Japanese. In comparison: in the eighties there has been a project to reunite war children in China with their Japanese fathers. But this concerned a region in the north of China where Japanese immigrants were living and so these were children of two Japanese parents. [Being ‘half’ or ‘not married’ is not the reason, and the following comparison is not to the point. The action to reunite the abandoned Japanese children in China of colonial Japanese parents who had to flee in a hurry when the Russians attacked, was started by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun as the writer Maki Okubo explained when she was in Holland in 2014 to interview JI-descendants].
Children’s Tears was made from an emotional viewpoint not a political or historical one. “I did not want to be judgmental. All the documentaries that I saw were built in the same way. They ended with the Atom bomb as the ultimate punishment for the brutal Japanese”, says Yuki. “I did not want to use these clichés, not about the invaders and not about the colonizers. But make a documentary that would appeal to both Japanese and Dutch.” In Kobe, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Tokyo and Osaka the film has been screened. Three of the five big Japanese newspapers published articles about it. Not from opinions or historical views but from the angle of ‘absent fathers’. Biggest shock for Japanese viewers were the impressive images of the monthly demonstrations of the stichting Japanse Ereschulden near the Japanese embassy in The Hague. Yuki: “The film visitors did not know that far away in Holland there were people who hate the Japanese. They were astonished because they were not aware that Japan and Holland were at war. History lessons end here always before the war. When the Japanese veterans returned they were not supposed to tell their stories about their experiences. They should keep their mouth shut. They were told that it was their fault that Japan was so poor now. Because you lost. Moreover, many of them were married and could not speak about their child on Java.”
Yuki Sunada put her whole heart and soul into the documentary. “I worked on it for seven years. Sometimes it was too emotional for me and I had to let it rest. I felt guilty and felt such pity. I blamed myself. These people were so open and loving, they were always willing to help me and were very grateful for what I was doing. The more people see the film, the bigger the chance that these children will find their fathers. I owe it to them that I do everything in my power to find them.”