Japan official denies ‘Yasukuni’ report

Chief Secretary says documentary ban not political

TOKYO — Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura denied reports that pressure from members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party forced theaters to pull “Yasukuni,” the controversial docu about the shrine to Japan’s war dead.

 Referring to protests by parliament members led by LDP’s Tomomi Inada (Variety, April 1), Machimura said Tuesday, “I don’t think their actions caused the cancellations.”

He added, “It’s extremely unfortunate that bullying and pressure can affect freedom of expression.”

Meanwhile, yet another theater has bailed on the docu, according to Japanese press reports.

Nagoya Cinematheque, in the city of Nagoya, is postponing its screening, which was set for May 3.

A theater spokesman said, “We still plan to show (the film), even though theaters in Tokyo have cancelled.”

No opening date has been set, however.

Four theaters in Tokyo and one in Osaka have already pulled the pic, which was skedded to bow on April 12.

 Theaters in Sapporo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka are still due to show it.

“Yasukuni,” which took Chinese helmer Li Ying 10 years to make, examines Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes the Japanese war dead including Class A war criminals, and has long been a focus of controversy in Japan and Asia.

Various industry groups have come out in support of Li and the pic, including the Directors Guild of Japan, the Mass Media Information and Culture Union and the Federation of Cinema and Theatrical Workers’ Unions.

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