Cinema cancels "Yasukuni" screening


TOKYO -- A Japanese movie theatre operator has decided not to show a documentary on Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine, where convicted war criminals are among the 2.5 million venerated souls, in the latest row surrounding the film.

Chinese director Li Ying has said he attempted to offer a neutral view in "Yasukuni," which shows without commentary events and visitors at a shrine seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

But if the film is seen as critical of the monument, it could anger right-wing activists.

"The film is talked about so much that it may create trouble and we don't want to cause inconvenience to building tenants," Kyodo News Agency quoted an official from T-Joy, the theatre operator and a subsidiary of Toei Co Ltd, as telling Argo Pictures, the distributor of the film.

A company spokesman confirmed the cancellation, saying various factors had been taken into account.

Earlier this month, distributor Argo Pictures held a special screening of the film for lawmakers prior to its release, after conservative members of parliament requested a preview, causing a row over whether politicians were trying to censor the documentary.

Director Li Ying told Kyodo in late February that he had been receiving threatening phone calls telling him not to release the film in Japan.

The film is set to be released in April at three other theatres in Tokyo and several more throughout the country.

Japan's relations with China were chilled for years by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's regular visits to Yasukuni, but have been on the mend since he stepped down a year-and-a-half ago.