Chimera

In 1932, the Empire of Japan invaded China, establishing the Manchurian Empire and celebrating the Five Races Under One Union. The Kwantung Army (Japanese armed forces in Manchuria) committed every conceivable atrocity in China and in its Japanese colonies, including Korea. When the Soviet Union invaded in 1945, the Kwantung Army retreated, leaving its civilians behind, many of whom were killed or abandoned in China as orphans and widows. Chimera depicts the tragedy caused by people blindly following imperialism and militarism, as well as the negative heritage that continues to this day, as seen in the field research. 

 

Footage 1 is an exchange between the two officers of the Kwantung Army, reenacted by a third-generation brother and sister who were displaced by the war.

 

Footage 2 is an interview with Mrs. Tomita Reiko, wife of the war-displaced orphan Mr. Yoshiharu Tomita, who lives in Okayama Prefecture.

 

Footage 3 is and interview with Gunji Kobayashi, a communist and activist repatriated from Manchuria, who lives in Okayama Prefecture.

 

They experienced the full consequence of Japanese imperial hubris. Today, war-displaced individuals of the first, second and third generations are constantly faced with the difficulty of building different social relationships. They must constantly rebuild their narrative while expressing identities in various ways. Will the joint struggle with memories of the past be open to the future? As members of a new Japanese society, those who were once war-displaced orphans denounce the way existing Japanese society works.

 

Video footage 1 was shot at the former sites of buildings which housed Japanese nationals, as well as the terminal station (Huludao Railway Station) where Japanese emigrants arrived in Huludao, part of southwestern Liaoning Province in the Republic of China. The repatriation point where Japanese returnees first arrived was at Senzaki Port, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. 

Voiceover text sources are from Fumio Ishihara "Father of Manchurian Settler Communities - Colonel Tomiya and Kanji Kato" 1944. Voiceover is from a third-generation war-displaced sister and brother in Okayama prefecture.

 

Footage 2, 3 was shot at Okayama prefecture.  

 

Kanji Kato 

 

Kato forwarded the Manchurian Settler Communities with Tetsuo Tomiya, who was  a Kwantung Army officer and adviser to the military administration of Manchukuo.
In 1938, Kato was involved in the establishment of the Volunteer Pioneer Youth Army of Manchuria and Mongolia. It produced 80,000 military volunteers.

 

Tetsuo Tomiya

 

Tomiya was a Kwantung Army officer who carried out the Manchurian Incident. Tomiya later became an adviser to the military administration of Manchukuo and served as a military instructor to the Jilin Province security force of the Manchukuo Army. Tomiya is the planner of the Tonkontai (Farmer soldiers who opened up new land in Japanese territories)

 

The title Chimera is taken from the book by Prof. Shinichi Yamuro, “Chimera—Portraits of Manchukuo". In the book, the chimera's head (a lion) symbolizes the Kwantung Army, the Body (a sheep) is the Japanese emperor system and the tail (a dragon) is Chinese emperor and modern China.

 

CREDITS

 

Direction, 
Kounosuke Kawakami

 

Production Assistant
Shuya Masuda, Siyo Rin

 

Voiceover
Akiko Imaoka
Tomoyo Imaoka

interviewee

Reiko Tomita

Gunji Kobayashi

Video Installation,

 

Footage 1. HD, Single Channel, 7:38, 2019

 © 2019 by Kounosuke Kawakami