Nihon no ichiban nagai hi 「日本のいちばん長い日」
The Emperor in August

The literal translation to the film’s title is Japan’s Longest Day, which was originally made into a film in 1967 by Okamoto Kihachi. I’ve never seen the 1967 film, but I had watched another film covering a similar topic (inflight as well) called Emperor, a 2012 film that had Tommy Lee Jones as Douglas MacArthur.

The story revolved around the end of WW2 during which time the Imperial Japanese Navy had been defeated by the US Navy to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, finally culminating in Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces on August 15, 1945. I don’t have much knowledge on the subject, and armed with what I learnt from the 2012 American film, it was interesting to see what happened on the Japanese side as it were. Kinda how the same topic was looked at from two sides in Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima films a few years ago.

The act of surrendering was complex. From a pragmatic standpoint, the Japanese was decimated and the attack by the Allied Forces, namely the Americans, were relentless. Germany had already fallen. The Soviets appeared ready to swoop down on Japan, and from a certain perspective, surrendering to the Americans would be the lesser of two evils. But then there was pride, and to some extent, the morale of the still fighting Japanese forces in the south Pacific. I wonder this was one of the basis of the attempted military coup (kyūjō jiken) instigated by the officers of the Rikugun-shō. And of course, the fine details (including the exact wording of it) of the terms of surrender, vis-à-vis the Potsdam Declaration, which has the protection of the Emperor at its core. If you had seen Emperor, you will appreciate how MacArthur and the Allied Forces viewed Emperor Hirohito and his role in the war

I recognised a large number of the main cast, like Hashimoto Kōji (Kiyosu Kaigi), Yamazaki Tsutomu (Okuribito, Space Battleship Yamato), Tsutsumi Shinichi (Ore wa Mada Honki Dashitenai Dake) and Matsuzaka Tori (Kyo, Koi wo Hajimemasu, Gatchaman). Even Matsuyama Kenichi (Death Note, Detroit Metal City, Noruwei no Mori) had a 2-minute appearance as a captain leading a small band of rebel IJA soldiers. Prolly not for light viewing, but great if you’re an amateur history fan like me.

Another thing of note – this film was directed by Harada Masato, who interestingly played the moustachioed Omura in The Last Samurai.