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Monday, December 15, 1997 Published at 11:53 GMT

image: [ BBC Despatches ]

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, one Japanese film is making a small contribution to public awareness of the event. 'Don't Cry Nanjing' is a fictionalised version of the Imperial Japanese army's slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and soldiers. But as our Arts Correspondent Simon Pitts reports, many cinemas in Japan are reluctant to screen the film.

A co-production between Chinese and Hong-Kong film-makers, 'Don't Cry Nanjing' was finished back in 1995. But it has taken until this week to get it shown in Japan.

One cinema in Nagoya, Japan's third largest city, has begun screenings and in a city of around 2 million people, around 200 have seen it so far. The massacre is a controversial subject in Japan and many Japanese insist it never happened.

Wariness over discussing the subject extends even to showing the film, which depicts the slaughter in graphic detail and also shows the rape of 1000s of women and young girls.

But it does have its supporters. Sangmi Lee from the Cinema Skhole in Nagoya City says it will help the younger generation to discuss past events:

"I think this film can give the chance to - not only Japanese but also other people - to think about the war and history," she said.

The film has still not been screened in the Japanese capital Tokyo and many other cinemas are unwilling to screen it fearing attacks from right-wing nationalists who deny that the massacre occurred.

So far, though, in Nagoya at least, no attacks have been made.

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