Film battle brewing over Nanjing Massacre


TOKYO -- World War II is long over, but the battle to win history is still being fought by two of the main Pacific protagonists as China and Japan mark the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre on Thursday.

Movie companies from the U.S., Europe and China have produced or are about to release more than 10 movies depicting events that began when soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army marched into the city on Dec. 13, 1937. One of the titles, "Purple Mountain," is being filmed in China and is directed by Simon West ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider"). With a budget of $53 million, it is an adaptation of the best-selling book "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang.

But nationalist Japanese filmmakers are refusing to accept China's claim that 300,000 civilians died and tens of thousands of women were raped as the Japanese military ran amok.

In a riposte to what extreme nationalists here regard as Chinese propaganda, director Satoru Mizushima is on location filming "The Truth of Nanjing."

The president of right-wing Internet television channel Channel Sakura, Mizushima said the evidence for the "massacre" is faked and he has the support of a dozen politicians, including former education minister Nariaki Nakayama.

"Truth" is the first in a series of three documentaries that Mizushima is producing. The second will examine the Tokyo Trials, which Japanese nationalists claim were simply victors' justice and that wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo went to the gallows to take the blame for Imperial Japan's defeat, while the final movie will look at the execution of seven other war criminals by the occupying U.S. forces, including Iwane Matsui, the officer accused of planning the invasion of Nanjing.

Mizushima has raised about $1.8 million in donations from his supporters to produce the movies. No date has been set for the release of the first title in the trilogy, though it is sure to draw the attention of the Chinese government when it does hit screens.