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The Emperor’s old clothes

New documentary shocking, insightful look back

In the Name of the Emperor

Rating: Five eyes (out of 5)

directed by: Christine Choy and Nancy Tong

showing: Wednesday October 18 at 10:00 p.m. on Human Edge, TVOntario

By Dianne Trottier

Another chapter has been added to one of the world’s darkest moments. Directors Christine Choy and Nancy Tong have discovered footage (taken by an American missionary) on a dirty secret kept hidden from the world: the Japanese occupation and massacre of Nanjing, China in 1937. And it’s this footage that lays down the horrific foundation of In The Name Of The Emperor.

At the brink of World War II, Japanese soldiers invaded Nanjing, the former capital of China. What followed was a mass slaughter and rape of the Nanjing people, stunningly documented in this film.

Choy and Tong have created a powerful and frightening account of what has been denied by many of Japan’s politicians and been kept from the history books. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were killed and over 20,000 women were raped. Many Chinese women were forced to be “comfort women” to Japanese soldiers. 

Along with the documentary footage, Emperor includes a number of insightful interviews. Among them, a woman recounts how she survived three pregnancies as a “comfort woman” to these soldiers. Even the Japanese soldiers themselves talk about their crimes.

The black and white images of countless bodies of men, women and children are vivid and heart wrenching, and are grim reminders of today’s atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda.

After the war, seven soldiers were executed but later enshrined as war martyrs. 28 were originally tried for these crimes, but because of the United States’ desire to form an anti-Communist alliance with Japan, the trials were never completed.

This documentary, one of the best of its kind in years, presents savage and inhuman acts of cruelty that are difficult to watch. However, like Holocaust films, they must be viewed to remind us of humanity’s capability to commit atrocities. 

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