entertainment

Japan Society for Tobacco Control not happy with new Studio Ghibli movie

41 Comments
By Preston Phro

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a new Studio Ghibli movie, "The Wind Rises" ("Kaze Tachinu" in Japanese), and it’s stirring up quite a buzz. However, not all the press has been particularly positive – or even about the movie in general.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned that there was quite a bit of cigarette-smoking in the movie. While smokers, nostalgic for by-gone eras when they could happily puff the day away, might be pleased with all the tobacco in the film, certain people were not. Specifically the Japan Society for Tobacco Control.

Studio Ghibli’s films are always enormous, culturally and socially. It’s rare to find someone in Japan – Japanese or otherwise – who doesn’t enjoy Hayao Miyazaki’s films, so it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that they have a massive impact on viewers. And this impact is precisely why the Japan Society for Tobacco Control has released a strongly worded statement on the amount of smoking in the film. The fierce letter, available to the public, brings two very salient points to the fore.

First, the society points out that the film is essentially violating the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” an international treaty adopted by the World Health Assembly. According to the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, the film is not in accordance with the 13th article which calls for a complete ban on tobacco advertising–unless the constitution of a country forbids such a ban. The society reasons that since the ban is for all media, this includes movies–and since the protagonist of "The Wind Rises" is seen smoking so heavily, he is essentially promoting smoking. Considering how many smokers walked out of the theater desperate to light up, it’s hard to say that they’re wrong.

The second point the letter makes is about the movie’s effect on children. In particular, the society’s statement mentions the scene in which the protagonist bums a smoke off another character while underage. According to the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, this scene is further in conflict with the Japanese “Act for Prohibiting Minors from Smoking.”

Of course, many have already argued that the movie, as a period piece, is well within bounds depicting people smoking since it was so common in the 1920s and '30s. The society sees it differently, though, writing, “Just because you say it happened in the past doesn’t mean you can ignore the effects that the movie will have on children.” The letter goes on to say that the company (Studio Ghibli) should follow the treaties and laws in place and that there are other ways of depicting the past.

Obviously, not everyone is happy with the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, as attested by the following Internet comments:

-- Cigarettes are a weak point for me, but that doesn’t mean you can just go around deleting them from everything.

-- When depicting an era when cigarettes were so commonly smoked, it doesn’t make sense to just skip over them.

-- Aren’t they just shoving their noses in this so that they don’t lose face, proclaiming the name of the “Japan Society for Tobacco Control?”

Obviously, it’s a touchy subject.

Whether or not the society’s letter actually has any legal merit seems a bit murky to us. After all, we would assume that the movie is protected as free speech. Still, as Japanese society moves away from smoking, we’re sure that this discussion will continue on for a long time to come.

Sources: ITmedia, Japan Society for Tobacco Control

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Plenty of smoke in Ghibli’s ‘The Wind Rises’ -- Smokers Find New Haven in Japan, But for a Price -- Survey suggests that more kids than ever in Japan think cigarettes stink

© RocketNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


41 Comments
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What a shame. Miyazaki will doubtless have stylish and cool characters that the impressionable will want to emulate.

Perhaps Ghibli could tie up with JT for this 'adult-oriented' cartoon.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The fact that he chain smokes might have something to do with it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The reality was that a large number of people smoked, chain smoked for that matter, during this period.

To omit this is akin to altering history. It'd be the same as erasing Trotsky out of Russian Revolution pictures as Stalin did later on.

Accurate history has both the good and the bad. I don't believe in whitewashing nor dumbing down history.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Accurate history has both the good and the bad. I don't believe in whitewashing nor dumbing down history.

This is a cartoon, for Pete's sake, not a documentary. History has nothing to do with it. Characters are not shown sitting on the toilet, though they most certainly did (rather, squatting over it) and that seems to be fine. So why not leave out a nasty habit that was only commonplace because it was commonplace?

4 ( +13 / -9 )

who cares? It's just a cartoon

-6 ( +7 / -14 )

I was a bit shocked when the lead character started smoking as it is uncommon in animation these days and I didn't really life it but it didn't ruin the movie for me. I didn't walk out feeling like I needed to become a smoker again. Hell I was there opening weekend and there weren't really any children in the theater as the movie is aimed toward adults and not children this time.

Their complaints make me wonder about other animated pieces though...what about One Piece? there are a couple of characters that walk around with cigarettes and cigars in their mouths at all time.. Sanji is one of the main characters and is always seen with a cigarette in his mouth. There is even a character named Smoker and he smokes at least 2 cigars at a time. How have they never complained about this show that is popular with all age demographics and has even had movies in theaters before? Why target just Ghibli if they are going to go on about this?

7 ( +8 / -2 )

Ever watch "Mad Men" or the BBC show, "The Hour"? Everyone drinks and smokes so often and with no regard to location/occasion you cant help but go, "WTF?" until you get comfortable with the fact they are representing an era as it truly was. This movie, despite being animated and from a studio known for childrens themes is apparently aimed at adults, so there you go. Plus Miyazaki is chain smoker.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The society sees it differently, though, writing, “Just because you say it happened in the past doesn’t mean you can ignore the effects that the movie will have on children.”

... so we should also ban action movies because we don't want kids going out and shooting people? Oh, and any movie that shows speeding because it will make kids drive too fast later? Etc... etc..

These individuals are invoking the oldest and least valid appeal to irrationality that there is, "Think of the children!"... if you pause to think for a moment there is no damage to children here. This organisation just successfully branded themselves as hysterical morons.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The tobacco industry spent million to get kids addicted cause they knew they would be lifelong smokers, until lung cancer killed them. The Joe Camel cartoon character is the perfect example, kids recognize it worldwide. Miyazaki is doing the dirty work for the industry, perhaps he was paid, in his film. Seeing people smoke in movies makes people want to smoke. Miyazaki may die soon of lung cancer but there is no reason he must condemn others to the same fate via his films. We are not living in the 1950s any longer. Everyone knows smoking kills but the weak willed addicts of tobacco cannot stop themselves unfortunately. But at least they can keep their cancer to themselves. In a just world Miyazaki should be accused of murder because he will kill people with this movie. Needless to say we are not going to see this movie. People who want to protect kids from cancer should do the same.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I took my nine year old to watch the movie as he loves planes. I hate smokers' self-righteous disregard for the health of other people) and was quite surprised by the amount of puffing away in the film.The thing is though, I regularly tell my boy that cigarettes are a poison and in the past a lot more people smoked as they did not know it was killing them. If you have conversations with your kid about why they should not smoke and make anti-smoking a part of their "culture" on a daily basis, there is no reason to let the smoking scenes prevent your family from enjoying what is an otherwise beautiful movie.

That said, the artistic integrity of the movie would not have been affected by leaving the smoking out - I don't think many people would have left the theater saying "where was all the smoking, how unrealistic!". As such, I do wish Miyazaki had left it out.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

They wouldn't like Mad Men very much!

The reality is that at that time many people smoked, and you wouldn't find an office or home (well, MAYBE a home) without some ornate standing ashtray next to a chair or desk, etc. I'm against smoking but not against reality.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

After all, that's true that after seeing another Miyazaki movie, I started riding a broom instead of a charinko, and I also wear a fur tail at the end of my spine (yep, a fake), to emulate an anime I was exposed to in my youth, That's OK that kids see a hero designing planes to exterminate people, but SMOKING ? OMG !

Considering how many smokers walked out of the theater desperate to light up, it’s hard to say that they’re wrong.

Someone counts them ? And after other movies, they don't want to smoke ?

the Japan Society for Tobacco Control.

They are disturbed to see the drawing of a ciggie... but that the State of Japan still owns stakes in JT (that they founded and promoted) is a less urgent issue ? It's a big hypocrisy. If they want people to stop smoking, ban the production and distribution of the stuff.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

This was one of the most pro-smoking animations I've ever seen. On top of that, the protagonist continues to puff away as his wife dies of tuberculosis. Great message to the kids. :/

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Magnet,

Great, smoking by the deathbed of his wife. Smokers are addicted weak-willed losers who only care about the next fix and then throwing the used cig on the street somewhere. I read recently in Honolulu some high school students discovered over 10,000 used cigs in the sand of Waikiki beach. The world is one big ashtray for tobacco addicts and too bad for you if you do not want to get second hand cancer.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

always a difficult subject, however you cannot rewrite history nor claim advertising breach when no real advertising took place.

as well- because someone could not sit through a miyasaki movie ( i know a national treasure) is no real surprise

it's interesting hearing the comments regarding smokers self righteousness - I never have been one but grew up firmly in the time period- and no one was self righteous regarding smoking- it was just the thing to do.

i am wondering who is really self righteous in the argument nowadays - the majority (us non-smokers) or the small minority who wants to smoke- they ask for the ability and are treated like pariah's.

don't point out the health issues- we've known alcohol's for years- should we place a ban on that as well (oops did that once in the states...)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ever watch "Mad Men" or the BBC show, "The Hour"? Everyone drinks and smokes so often and with no regard to location/occasion you cant

Neither show is animated or geared to the younger set.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Praack,

A difficult one in a society that fails so miserably (does it even try in the first place?) at suicide prevention.

Alas, Ghibli's positive reinforcement prolongs things like family restaurant smoking sections.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"...as Japanese society moves away from smoking..."

Really?? Can't say I'd noticed...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@zurcronium, totally agree. Couldn't have put the situation into perspective better myself.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The reality was that a large number of people smoked, chain smoked for that matter, during this period.

To omit this is akin to altering history. It'd be the same as erasing Trotsky out of Russian Revolution pictures as Stalin did later on.

Accurate history has both the good and the bad. I don't believe in whitewashing nor dumbing down history. This. And by the way, people even smoke today. Take your kids to the city and cover their eyes everytime you see someone smoking -- have fun! Great film, by the way. Off for a cigarette now.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Every time I see someone light up, I say, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Some of the foreigners give me strange looks, lol.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I fail to understand how a depiction of smoking is automatically equated with an endorsement of smoking.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

With JT closely tied to the govt., why does an organization like this even exist? They've got no chance lol

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Silly people who want to control others because they do not like what they do. It is just a way of demonizing you and making you feel bad. If a person wants to smoke, it is their decision. If it offends you, maybe you should be offended. Your perfume offends me, your lack of perfume offends me. people need the freedom to be themselves and not have others dictate to them what they think is right and wrong. There are a few things that all agree to be wrong. Murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, adultery is wrong, Basically the 10 commandments. Grow up, if you don't like the way I look at you don't make it a federal case. If you do not like the food I eat, I do not care. Grow up people. and I for one do not care how many dislikes I get.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Kent Mcgraw, perfume, or lack thereof, doesn't cause cancer or trigger asthma. Cigarettes do. I for one disliked your post. It's not a matter of "growing up" or not. It's a matter of not being an inconsiderate smoke belching douchebag in public. You wanna kill yourself off, by all means, go right on ahead. Just don't expect others to be pleased that you're dragging them along with you.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Magnet

Perfume can most certainly trigger asthma. Migraine headaches, too. I'm not a fan of smoking or smokers, and I applaud the recent trend toward non-smoking, both on the public and private fronts. I do, however, think overzealous anti-smoking advocates are taking things a bit too far when they are up in arms about period-appropriate smoking being depicted in a period piece.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

omg! i dont smoke but if other people want to smoke LET EM! its a free world. i feel sorry for smokers, they're being attacked now.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think that 'Totoro' depicts pipe smoking. As I am sure you are aware, everyone in Japan has seen it and also smokes a pipe like a 1950s Japanese father.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Is it necessary to show these cartoon characters smoking? Is it an essential part of the plot? Would the story be different if they did not smoke? If the answer is "no" then the depiction of smoking is gratuitous and unnecessary.

If you say "it's what people used to do at that time", why doesn't the cartoon show people on the toilet? That also has no relevance to the story, but it's what people used to do (and still do).

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

There was plenty of smoking and drinking in "Porco Rosso" (1992), but maybe it was a little too unreal compared to this film. The Japan Society for Tobacco Control didn't exist during the period that this movie depicts, and they're not being misrepresented, so ignore it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Here's the thing: smoking is still fairly commonplace in Japan. It's still publicly accepted enough that it was only in 2007 that the JR Group of railways finally banned smoking in long-distance limited-express and Shinkansen trains except in specially designated smoking rooms on the train. As such, smoking tobacco was a common sight in Japan in the 1920's to late 1930's, the period depicted in this movie.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you don't want your kids seeing cartoon characters smoke, don't take them to the movie.

Incidentally, don't people get violently attacked and die in so many of these anime cartoons? Bigger fish to fry? Yep, you got 'em alright!

My understanding is that the lead character made a fighter plane that was used by an evil empire to kill people in clear wars of aggression and plunder. Some people might get better priorities by wearing a blindfold and throwing some darts.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Tobacco advertising in this animation? That is stretching it a bit. And youngsters don't start smoking because they saw it done in animations, but because they saw adults do it in real life. Most likely in their own families. What I often see nowadays in men and women lighting up in their cars in the presence of (their) children. With the windows shut and air conditiong running.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I never liked Ghibli's films, watched a couple of them only.

But I think the people are exaggerating with this stuff, the movie is depicting a time period were smoking was common for everyone, by the looks of it, it seems that the theme is more adult-oriented, so WHY do you INSIST that EVERY Ghibli movie is for children???.

I don't know in Japan but the ban on advertising tobacco on all media it does extend to movies and TV shows in my country, however, there is something called "common sense" that if a story is set in a time period where it was normal (in my country it was the 80s) it is allowed, but that immediately puts the movie o TV show in a setting for people over the legal age (in my country, 18 years old) the same as pornography or extreme violence movie.

The best way to "punish" the movie is doing that, give it a rating of restricted and voilà, of course the Society for tobacco control doesn't want to do this, first, it loses the "control" on smoking, since they cannot stop a smoker to smoke even if the smoker is isolated and alone, and following all the "rules" and second, if they put an "R" to the movie that becomes loss of profit for the studio that it is very well positioned in the country and the US, so it might not be a good political move

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Real smoke is a lot more bothersome than cartoon smoke.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Since the government of Japan signed the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005 http://www.who.int/fctc/signatories_parties/en/index.html , doesn't the the government and society have an obligation to prevent smoking in the media including --- new movies? While I understand Studio Ghibli wants to create an authentic story and the president is a smoker, the movie is made today for today's audiences and Studio Ghibli should follow the government legislation. Studio Ghibli should issue an apology and donate the profits to anti smoking initiatives in Japan.............

2 ( +2 / -0 )

" Since the government of Japan signed the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005 http://www.who.int/fctc/signatories_parties/en/index.html , doesn't the the government and society have an obligation to prevent smoking in the media including --- new movies?"

The government people signed it, not the society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My daughter saw this movie, but she didn't come home and say "Mommy I want to smoke!". She still hates the smell of cigarettes.

It's only small details of how it used to be. And yes, Japanese men smoked .... a lot!! Some still do, but not in front of my face. That's a relief.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

That was then, and that was how life was. Just please dont make such a fuss. He is making a historic story and he is being accurate. WE KNOW the differnce between a story and our reality now.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Porco Rosso also chain smoked. ;)

Miyazaki Hayao is well known for being anti-war, etc since he wrote the nausicaa books, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd also like to hear what they had to say about "Mad Men." I hate smokers as much as anyone, but leaving it out would be artificial and weird. Ghibli films aren't the first kids try to emulate though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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