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Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 06:41 GMT 07:41 UK
Japan's date with Pearl Harbor
Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale in the film
The film has been marketed as a love story in Japan
By Peter Hatfield in Tokyo

The film Pearl Harbor will have its most controversial premiere to date on Thursday.

The film will be shown to an audience of about 30,000 inside the Tokyo Dome, Japan's largest indoor stadium.

Director Michael Bay, (C) and actor Ben Affleck in Tokyo
The film's director (L) and one of its stars greet press in Tokyo
But not all the action will be in the movie. Right-wing gangs in black trucks are expected to parade outside the stadium, haranguing the film-makers and distributors through loudspeakers.

They always protest against any film that highlights Japan's aggression during the Second World War.

'Sensitive'

In fact, the makers of Pearl Harbor have bent over backwards to be sensitive to Japanese concerns.

The film explores the reasons for Japan's pre-emptive attack in a sympathetic way.

Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 December, 1941.
Many young Japanese don't realise what happened at Pearl Harbor
Parts of the script have been changed for the Japanese version of the film and it is being marketed here as a love story, not a war movie.

The sensitivity is necessary because Japanese audiences provide around a quarter of the revenue of a typical Hollywood blockbuster, and given Pearl Harbor's lukewarm reception in the United States, distributor Buena Vista International is counting on Japanese sales to boost profits.

The target audience is mainly young people, many of whom will be learning about Pearl Harbor for the first time.

Details of World War II are glossed over in school textbooks, and few Japanese films are prepared to tackle such a controversial subject.

As a result, many young Japanese do not even realise there was an attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

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See also:

25 May 01 | Reviews
Pearl Harbor sinks fast
22 May 01 | Film
Pearl Harbor: Reliving history
04 Jun 01 | Reviews
Pearl Harbor: Your views
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