U.S. movie director Oliver Stone, who is scheduled to visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa Prefecture for the first time in August, said he plans to reveal “disturbing findings” on the U.S. atomic bombings and other historical facts during his stay in Japan.
Stone, 66, revealed his intentions in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, which was conducted recently through written form.
Last year, Stone produced a TV documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States,” which depicts contemporary U.S. history, ranging from the 1930s to the inauguration of President Barack Obama, from an alternative perspective.
He wrote the series jointly with Peter Kuznick, 65, associate professor of history at American University.
The documentary series consists of 10 episodes, one of which is devoted entirely to the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
According to the episode, many officials in the Truman administration were opposed to the idea of dropping nuclear weapons on Japan. The episode also took the position that it was possible to force Japan to surrender without the use of the atomic bomb. Despite the misgivings, the U.S. government used the weapons.
Revealing the process that led to the decision to drop the bombs, Stone cast doubts on the generally accepted U.S. position that the bombings were necessary to end the war and that they prevented the need to invade mainland Japan with conventional forces and, as a result, saved many lives.
Kuznick visits Hiroshima and Nagasaki every summer with his students. This year, Stone decided to join the tour.
The annual tour is coordinated by an educational organization, the Peace Philosophy Center, which is based in Canada and headed by Satoko Norimatsu. Through her, The Asahi Shimbun submitted questions to Stone for the interview, which he answered in written form.
As for the purpose of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stone said, “I’m looking forward to meeting with atomic bomb survivors and listening to their experiences. … Peter and I hope to reach as much of the Japanese public as possible with the disturbing findings of ‘The Untold History of the United States.’ ”
Concerning Okinawa, Stone said, “I’m visiting Okinawa because the Okinawan people are in the forefront of the civil struggle against militarism and colonialism, having suffered centuries of oppression by Japan and 70 years of military occupation by the United States.”
He also said that he wants to hear opinions from local residents in Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts about 70 percent of U.S. bases in Japan.
“I intend to show solidarity with their powerful movement, which is an inspiration to anti-base forces everywhere,” he said.
According to people close to Stone, the film director will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Aug. 4-10. During his stay, he will take part in ceremonies to pray for peace. After that, he will visit Okinawa. He is scheduled to leave Japan on Aug. 15.
During his stay in Japan, he may also visit war-related sites with the American students.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
Question: It will be your first visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I understand. What is your expectation?
Stone: I'm looking forward to meeting with atomic bomb survivors and listening to their experiences. I'm also looking forward to participating in commemorative events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Between our work with the media and our public events, Peter and I hope to reach as much of the Japanese public as possible with the disturbing findings of “The Untold History of the United States,” our NHK documentary film series and three volume companion book by the publishing company Hayakawa that details the history of the American empire and national security state.
Q: Is it your first visit to Okinawa as well? What do you expect to see in Okinawa? What do you think your experience will be like in Okinawa, at this point?
A: Yes, this is my first time. I'm visiting Okinawa because the Okinawan people are in the forefront of the civil struggle against militarism and colonialism, having suffered centuries of oppression by Japan and 70 years of military occupation by the U.S. I expect to hear from Okinawans about what they have gone through living with foreign military bases, and I intend to show solidarity with their powerful movement, which is an inspiration to anti-base forces everywhere.
Q: The Japanese government wants to make the procedure for constitutional revision easier and wants to revise its Article 9, the war renunciation clause. What do you think of this move?
A: It is up to the people of Japan to decide what to do with their own Constitution. We are having enough trouble right now fighting to preserve the U.S. Constitution from government officials who want to tear it up in the name of national security. I can only say from an American perspective that it will be a very dangerous path for Japan to change its Constitution if that means strengthening military ties with the United States and engaging in more joint military operations with the U.S. Do the Japanese really want to be pulled into more U.S. wars? I strongly doubt it.
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