The Michigan Theater is excited to present Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue on Monday, February 17 at 7:30 PM. The filmmaker, Miki Dezaki, will also be joining us for a post-film discussion where he will talk about his personal relationship to the film’s topic, his experience making the film and answer any audience questions. This film is highly controversial in Japan, with many local and regional government agencies banning the screening of the film. Dezaki, himself, is being sued by a few conservative leaders in the Japanese government.

About the Film

The “comfort women” issue is perhaps Japan’s most contentious present-day diplomatic quandary. Inside Japan, the issue is dividing the country across clear ideological lines. Supporters and detractors of “comfort women” are caught in a relentless battle over empirical evidence, the validity of oral testimony, the number of victims, the meaning of sexual slavery, and the definition of coercive recruitment. Credibility, legitimacy and influence serve as the rallying cry for all those involved in the battle. In addition, this largely domestic battleground has been shifted to the international arena, commanding the participation of various state and non-state actors and institutions from all over the world. This film delves deep into the most contentious debates and uncovers the hidden intentions of the supporters and detractors of comfort women. Most importantly it finds answers to some of the biggest questions for Japanese and Koreans: Were comfort women prostitutes or sex slaves? Were they coercively recruited? And, does Japan have a legal responsibility to apologize to the former comfort women?

Shusenjo focuses on the comfort women issue between Koreans and Japanese, as they are the most politically active groups; however, the filmmaker felt it was important to mention that the comfort women system affected the lives of women from all over East Asia, including China, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, East Timor and Micronesia. Therefore, this is not just a diplomatic issue between two countries, but an international human/woman’s rights issue that has implications on how we view violence against women during war.


About the Director

Miki Dezaki is a graduate of the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo. He worked for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program for five years in Yamanashi and
Okinawa before becoming a Buddhist monk in Thailand for one year. He is also known as “Medamasensei” on Youtube, where he has made comedy videos and videos on social issues
in Japan. His most notable video is “Racism in Japan,” which led to numerous online attacks by Japanese neo-nationalists who attempted to deny the existence of racism and discrimination
against Zainichi Koreans (Koreans with permanent residency in Japan) and Burakumin (historical outcasts still discriminated today). Shusenjo is his directorial debut.

Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue is playing Monday, February 17 at 7:30 PM. Buy your tickets online.