“Japan Lies: The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90″ is a documentary about a Japanese photojournalist who showed his country and the rest of the world the plight of the atomic bomb victims and the oppressed through his lens. This film about his nearly seven-decade career has won three awards in Japanese cinema and its popularity is gaining momentum.
The film is directed by Saburo Hasegawa, who at 42 is making his directorial debut with “Japan Lies”. The documentary follows the life of Fukushima, now 91, who lives in Yanai. Fukushima’s photojournalism career started with his harrowing pictures of the daily life and struggles of the A-bomb victims in Hiroshima after the end of World War II. In his storied career, he has also covered ethnic Koreans, the Self-Defense Forces, student protesters in the 1960s and even anti-nuclear activists following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. His photos seem to show his subjects in stark contrast to an ideal society and criticizes the many contradictions in the Japanese way of living.
The 114-minute documentary was released August 2012 and 30,000 people have already watched the film at 43 theaters across Japan. “Japan Lies” ranked as the top documentary film in Kinema Jumpo’s 86th annual best 10 lists released on Jan. 11. The film was also deemed the best documentary film of the 2012 Japan Film Pen Club Award on Jan. 8. And on Jan. 17, “Japan Lies” won the documentary film award at the 67th Mainichi Film Awards.
“I think Fukushima’s photographs and life deserve the awards more than we do,” the director Hasegawa said. And although Fukushima said he was grateful for the honors, he still maintains his anti-authority standpoint and was quick to add: “I feel a sense of shame for the fact that only I get to be happy when I have been taking photos of people living in unhappy conditions. Our time itself is moving backward to war.”