Filmmaker Junkerman to create movie about Okinawa

Filmmaker Junkerman to create movie about Okinawa

On June 24, at Kakazu Takadai Park in Ginowan, John Junkerman (left) and the film crew filmed Futenma Air Station.

June 25, 2013 Naoki Isa of the Ryukyu Shimpo

American documentary filmmaker John Junkerman, 60, will make a documentary movie about the U.S. military base issue in Okinawa. The tentative title for the film is “Okinawa 1944-2014.” Currently living in Tokyo, Junkerman has been creating the movies such as “Nihonkoku kenpo the movie.”

Junkerman has been thinking of telling the base issue to U.S. citizens since 1975, when he lived in Okinawa.

Junkerman has taken 38 years to make this film because he feels responsible for the issue as an American citizen.

Junkerman lived in Okinawa City for six months in 1975.
He created “The Old Man and the Sea,” a documentary movie about a fisher from Yonaguni Island. Junkerman feels emotionally attached to Okinawa. The deployment of the Osprey to Okinawa, moving the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to Henoko and the movement to revise the Japanese Constitution made him feel that he had to make the film.

The film tells the story of the ongoing issue of U.S. bases since the Battle of Okinawa.

The creators of the film interviewed American veterans suffering from serious illnesses they believe were caused by their exposure to Agent Orange in Okinawa. The film tells the complicated story of how U.S. soldiers are both the wrongdoers and the victims. Junkerman aims to complete the film next spring and to screen it in Japan and the United States.

Junkerman and Tetsujiro Yamagami, who represents the film production and distribution company Siglo that will produce Junkerman’s film, visited Okinawa from June 18 to 24.

Junkerman filmed the memorial service for bereaved family members of an incident of group suicide (normally referred to in Japanese as shudan jiketsu in which the Japanese military ordered or drove civilians to commit suicide) in Namihira, Yomitan. He also filmed the Cornerstone of Peace memorial and the area around Futenma Air Station.

Junkerman criticized Japanese cabinet officials who attended the Okinawa Memorial Service for all the war dead. He said, “It’s a performance. If they really feel for Okinawa they would change their policies towards the prefecture.”

Junkerman said, “The U.S. military’s occupation of Okinawa has continued for about 70 years. They do not let go of Okinawa because they think of it as a trophy. I would like to take this issue to ordinary U.S. citizens who do not know about it.”
Junkerman’s strong will was clear among his calm words.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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