Oppenheimer released in Japan, eight months after its global debut

The Academy Award-winning film “Oppenheimer” has finally been released in Japan, eight months after its global release. Japan, being the only country to have experienced the devastation of nuclear weapons, was excluded at that time as the worldwide opening last July was only weeks before the anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The film depicts the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man known as the father of the atomic bomb. The topic was of great interest to the Japanese, although it was sensitive and emotionally volatile.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film earned seven Oscars, including Best Picture, grossing over $950 million worldwide. Its much-anticipated release in Japan received a mixed response, ranging from praise for its portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer to criticism that it failed to show the human devastation caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, a co-chair of Hidankyo, a confederation of A-bomb survivor groups, who was three years old when the bomb destroyed his hometown, was among the audience in Hiroshima on Friday. “I was waiting for the Hiroshima bombing scene to appear, but it never did,” said Mimaki, 82. “It’s important to show the full story, including the victims if we are going to have a future without nuclear weapons.”

“This movie can serve as the starting point for addressing the legitimacy of the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as humanity’s, and Japan’s, reflections on nuclear weapons and war,” he wrote in his commentary on Oppenheimer, published by the Tokyo Bar Association.

Hiroyuki Shinju, a lawyer, noted Japan and Germany also carried out wartime atrocities, even as the nuclear threat grows around the world. Historians say Japan was also working on nuclear weapons during World War II and would have almost certainly used them against other nations, Shinju said.

Takashi Yamazaki, director of Godzilla Minus One, which won the Oscar for visual effects and is a powerful statement on nuclear catastrophe in its own way, suggested he might be the man for that job. “I feel there needs to be an answer from Japan to Oppenheimer. Someday, I would like to make that movie,” he said in an online dialogue with Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan.

Pankaj Madaan

A filmmaker and a screenwriter known for his comprehensive knowledge of world cinema and insightful commentary on the Hindi film industry.

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