Japan remembered World War II at Christmas time as actor-director and comedian Takeshi Kitano starred in a television epic as General Hideki Tojo, who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor. Kitano, also known as Beat Takeshi, portrayed the militarist prime minister with surprising resemblance in a documentary-drama broadcast over 4 1/2 hours on Christmas Eve.
The program was somewhat out of place on Japanese television for the festive year-end and New Year season which is usually reserved for hours-long period epics such as ones about famous samurai warriors.
But the drama drew a respectable 12.1% of television viewers. "We chose the timing because it was close to the Pearl Harbor anniversary. It is important to broadcast such a program at this time of the year," TBS publicist Takahiro Ishida said.
The drama followed Tojo during the three months leading up to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, which brought the United States into the war. Tojo is seen conferring on military plans with Emperor Hirohito, who is usually portrayed in Japan as a detached observer with little responsibility for the war.
After the war, the occupying United States allowed Hirohito to remain on the throne but Tojo was tried and executed as a war criminal.
The drama portrayed Tojo as a reluctant leader who struggled to reach a decision and showed Hirohito as hesitant about war.
"This drama is meant to tell how we went into the cruel war," said the special's producer Yasuo Yagi, adding that it resembled Japan's "irresponsible" politics at present. "I hope it conveys a hint about our country's future."
It was the second in a series of World War II documentary-dramas produced by TBS which in March featured victims of the devastating U.S. air raids on Tokyo.
Media comments on the program were generally favorable. "It is fine as an attempt to thoroughly analyze the war and provide a basis to sustain our will to renounce war," said the Yomiuri Shimbun.
"Takeshi's own air makes Tojo's character more real," the Asahi Shimbun said. "It cools the euphoria of Christmas Eve a little bit and makes you think about the times."© Wire reports