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Film director Oliver Stone, who is no stranger to controversy, turned from his sharp attacks on the U.S. for the atomic bombings of Japan to criticize his hosts over their attitude to China and other Asian neighbors. |
In a speech to foreign correspondents in Tokyo, Mr. Stone said that Japan needs to more completely apologize for its wartime acts, and said it should also resist a shift to relying on military might to deal with security challenges posed by its neighbors such as China and North Korea.
Japan's leaders have expressed 'deep remorse' over the physical damage and psychological pain the country has inflicted on other Asian countries, but repeated visits by cabinet ministers to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo and growing talk of revising the nation's peace constitution have made other countries skeptical about the intention of these remarks.
He said that if Japan came out with a more forthright apology 'that would make front-page headlines everywhere in the world.'
He added that Japan, which is locked in a territorial dispute with China over a small group of islands, should look more broadly at ties between the two countries. 'Don't look at China as your enemy. Start seeing it differently. Start by apologizing to China for what you did in China and all the people you killed there,'
Mr. Stone said. 'Japan's interest in the long-term could very much lie with China.' Mr. Stone described Japan's face-off with China over disputed territories in the East China Sea as like 'some kid who goes out there and picks fights and then has got his big brother behind him to go clean up after him,' referring to the United States' security obligations to Japan.
He argued that Japan should show leadership in resolving conflicts in a peaceful manner. 'We want to see Japan playing a leading role in making this a more peaceful world by resolving the conflicts in the Pacific in a way that shows the vision of Japan,' he said. 'Japan has a peace constitution and a commitment to nuclear non-resolution.' Mr. Stone's view is formed by his skepticism of power and his belief in political checks and balances. He went as far as to praise China for not handing over American national security leaker Edward Snowden to the United States. 'I'm glad that China didn't arrest him. At least China had the guts to stand up (to the United States) that way.'
The famous director is in Japan to promote his documentary series, 'The Untold History of the United States,' which presents an alternative interpretation of the country's history in the 20th century, challenging the narrative of America as an 'underdog.' The series will be aired by Japan's national broadcaster NHK.
The documentary includes discussion of the two atomic bombings. Peter Kuznick, professor of history at American University, who worked with Stone in the production of the documentary, said it was 'a learning experience for both of us' to meet with the victims of the bombing, as well as historians and journalists in Japan. The documentary contends that the long-held assertions that the bombings were necessary to end the war are untrue and that other factors, such as the Soviet Union's entry into the war against Japan was a strong factor in the country's surrender.
'The more we see and the more we learn, the more troubling it is for us and the more we realize how important Japan's coming to grips with its past is for Japan, but also for the United States and for the rest of the world. Japan and the United States are linked together in this web of deceit in which we both collaborate to tell lies about all of our history,' he said.