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SENSO DAUGHTERS

Australia, 1990 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Noriko Sekiguchi

Senso Daughters begins as an account of Japan's "forgotten", or Great Asian War and slowly evolves towards its real theme - the hidden history of women in war. Faced with official secrecy and denial, filmmaker Noriko Sekiguchi probes and gradually uncovers the story of "comfort women" - prostitutes conscripted by the Japanese army to accompany occupation forces in the Pacific. Since no official records exist, she constructs the story through ex-soldiers and Islanders. Justified as a necessary evil to protect the army nurses and local women, this version is contradicted by women whose accounts of rape by Japanese and Australian soldiers are borne out in their mixed-race offspring. As Sekiguchi's film implies, a complete account of the unnamed women who were shipped as "military commodities" will never be known.

Sekiguchi became interested in the subject when she came to Australia as a student. She was astonished to learn, through celebrations of Australian involvement in WWII, of the Japanese war effort, and began to reflect on why there had been an obliteration of this history from Japanese texts. In Australia the soldiers who survived the war are heroes and public figures, while the Japanese soldiers have had to repress their collective memories. She links her return to Japan with the funeral celebrations of Emperor Hirohito, and thus this documentary weaves both a personal essay-style reflection and the more conventional pursuit of facts.
- (ME)

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