On the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, three prominent East Asian films on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) appeared in China and Japan. The Chinese film Tokyo Trial
(Dongjing shenban, 2006) was heavily promoted in the Chinese mainland, screened extensively at universities in Beijing and Shanghai, and broke opening weekend box office records at that time. In Japan, there were two high-profile films on both the Tokyo (A-class war criminals) and Yokohama (B/C-class) trials: I Want to Be a Shellfish
(Watashi wa kai ni naritai, 2008) and Best Wishes for Tomorrow
(Ashita e no yuigon, 2007). All three tribunal films deal with the question of who gets to write the official “history,” or master narrative of the past, with the national narratives of other nations looming large. Produced at the height of the mid-2000s East Asia history conflict, the three films constitute a major layer in the discourse on national memory in China and Japan. Focusing on representations of race and memory and drawing from theories of the film as a site of memory, this paper will reveal how these films attempt to redefine the official history established at the IMTFE (International Military Tribunal for the Far East) and establish a national narrative of perpetrators, heroes, and victims of WWII.
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