An anti-discrimination group has warned that Disney’s “Pearl Harbor” may spark violence against Japanese-Americans.
“We have some grave concerns that the reliving of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor may have a negative impact on members of the Japanese-American community,” Floyd Mori, president of the Japanese-American Citizens League, said at a Monday news conference in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. “We have fears that the movie may elicit racism and hate crimes.”
Speakers said they were disappointed that the movie, which is expected to generate blockbuster grosses when it opens Friday, does not accurately depict the correct historic level of patriotism among Japanese-Americans during World War II. “When a Japanese face is in this movie, it’s basically the enemy,” contended Guy Aoki, prexy of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans.
Consulted during production
Disney spokeswoman Andrea Marozas pointed out that Disney had consulted with league reps during the making of “Pearl Harbor,” adding, “We felt we took appropriate steps to address these issues.”
The league leaders plan to beef up security at their half-dozen U.S. offices when “Pearl Harbor” opens because of the 40-minute re-creation of the surprise attack. They cited a climate of heightened anti-Asian sentiment in recent years plus targeting of Asian-Americans tied to previous remembrances of the attack.
“Our concern is this movie and the title alone will provoke an emotional response,” said John Tateishi, the league’s national exec director who attended a preview last week. “The heart of the film is Japan’s attack, and that’s what people will remember. The phrase ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ is the one thing from World War II that still provokes an emotional response in this country.”
Tateishi criticized the studio for its inclusion of a scene in which a Japanese-American dentist unwittingly supplies information about the harbor over the telephone prior to the attack. Marozas said the scene has been included for the sake of continuity, but Tateishi said it should be taken out because it wrongly implies the dentist was a collaborator.
“We would never ask them (Disney) not to make this movie,” Tateishi added. “What we’re asking for is balance.”
Aoki called for Hollywood studios to make films on the Japanese-American role in the war effort, such as that of Japanese-American soldiers who enlisted after being taken to internment camps.