This absorbing documentary follows Kenzo Okuzaki--a veteran of Japan's WWII campaign in New Guinea--as he searches out those responsible for the mysterious deaths of several soldiers in his unit. Though he holds Emperor Hirahito accountable for all the suffering caused by WWII, he painstakingly tracks down former military officers and accuses them of specific war crimes, often times abusing them verbally and physically. Director Kazua Hara's subtle cinema verite not only captures the zeal of Okuzaki's lifelong mission, but also exposes the atrocities committed by the Japanese military against its own soldiers. The film created such controversy in Japan upon release that no major distributor would touch it. Whatever you call it--a righteous and cathartic quest for the truth and the odyssey of a vengeful madman are two possibilities--the saga depicted in The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On is both compellingly strange and strangely compelling.
I was born in Java, in the former Dutch East Indies now known as Indonesia in of a fourth generation Dutch colonial family. I grew up on a sugar plantation and had the most wonderful childhood. When I was 19 years old in , Japanese troops invaded Java. Together with thousands of women and children, I was interned in a Japanese prison camp for three and a half years.
The movie's actual subject is the war itself, the criminal conduct of individual Japanese officers, and the guilt embedded in the chain of command leading up to Emperor Hirohito himself, who at the time of this film was still alive and reigning. Long after the war's end, Okuzaki became a sort of truth terrorist, and he is open with Hara and everyone he meets about his deeds and intentions. In this film, Okuzaki, who had fought with the Japanese Army on New Guinea, investigates the execution of two foot soldiers there by Japanese officers. He travels throughout Japan, accompanied by the film crew, to confront soldiers who had knowledge of the incident, and in the presence of the camera, he pressed them to tell what they know.
The documentary centers on Kenzo Okuzaki, a year-old veteran of Japan's campaign in New Guinea in the Second World War , and follows him around as he searches out those responsible for the unexplained deaths of two soldiers in his old unit. Though Okuzaki ultimately holds Emperor Hirohito accountable for all the suffering of the war, "I hate irresponsible people The people he talks to give different accounts of what transpired almost 40 years earlier, some saying that those killed were executed for desertion after the war was already over, while others state that they were shot for cannibalizing New Guinea indigenous people.