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The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

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The award winning student newspaper of Lake Oswego High School

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Japan bans triggering film “Oppenheimer”

“Oppenheimer,” a cinematic film directed by Christopher Nolan, has raised the heads of many since its release in July. This film delves into the complexities of Japan’s past and its continued impact on the present. What makes this movie especially interesting, however, is not its gripping narrative or its popular cast, but rather the controversy, and cultural eruption it ignited when its release was postponed in Japan. Even now, as our calendars approach the month of October, “Oppenheimer” still awaits a confirmed release date in Japan. 

At first glance, some may wonder the reasons behind this delay, as “Oppenheimer” appeared on the surface to be like any other Hollywood blockbuster that has garnered popularity in recent weeks. Looking further into the core of this movie, however, we saw a narrative that followed the life and legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the infamous scientist responsible for the development of what was universally recognized as the atomic bomb during World War II. While the film does not explicitly involve itself with Japan’s heart wrenching history, “Oppenheimer” continued to spark firestorms of debate and discussions worldwide, as it raised questions about its connection to Japan and its historical significance. 

It is understandable that the topic is still a very sensitive and contentious topic for many Japanese people, considering that Japan is the only nation ever to be a victim of a direct atomic bomb attack. Many Japanese citizens have argued that the film’s narrative offered an opportunity for reflection and dialogue on the consequences of nuclear bombs. Along with this, to many of the film’s audience, it was clear that “Oppenheimer” covered the history that it represents through an anti-nuclear lens, presenting the negative effects of nuclear activity both on victim populations and on Robert Oppenheimer’s inner morality. A 2015 survey hosted by public broadcasting service NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai Along) also reported that 40 percent of Japan’s population agreed with the statement that the U.S. had no choice but to use the bomb. 

Even so, over 49 percent of the nation’s population still believed that they still couldn’t forgive the act. There was also noticeable worry throughout the Japanese community that Oppenheimer is glorifying the act of bombings and nuclear warfare, possibly creating groups of people who hope to follow a path of violence, specifically against Japanese populations. Others were also afraid that “Oppenheimer” has created an inaccurate representation of WW2, presenting to new generations a film that doesn’t represent the horrors resulting from Oppenheimer’s actions. 

While “Oppenheimer” hasn’t been completely banned in Japan, its Japanese release date is still up in the air for public debate. A universal spokesperson stated in one of Variety’s articles that “plans have not been finalized in all markets.” Despite Oppenheimer being held back, its counterpart “Barbie” was released to Japanese audiences back in August of this year.  

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