In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a new Studio Ghibli movie, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu in Japanese), and it’s stirring up quite a buzz! However, not all the press has been particularly positive–or even about the movie in general. A few weeks ago, we mentioned that there was quite a bit of cigarette-smoking in the movie. While smokers, nostalgic for by-gone eras when they could happily puff the day away, might be pleased with all the tobacco in the film, certain people were not. Specifically the Japan Society for Tobacco Control!

Studio Ghibli’s films are always enormous, culturally and socially. It’s rare to find someone in Japan–Japanese or otherwise–who doesn’t enjoy Hayao Miyazaki’s films, so it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that they have a massive impact on viewers. And this impact is precisely why the Japan Society for Tobacco Control has released a strongly worded statement on the amount of smoking in the film. The fierce letter, available to the public, brings two very salient points to the fore.


First, the society points out that the film is essentially violating the “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” an international treaty adopted by the World Health Assembly. According to the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, the film is not in accordance with the 13th article which calls for a complete ban on tobacco advertising–unless the constitution of a country forbids such a ban. The society reasons that since the ban is for all media, this includes movies–and since the protagonist of The Wind Rises is seen smoking so heavily, he is essentially promoting smoking. Considering how many smokers walked out of the theater desperate to light up, it’s hard to say that they’re wrong.

The second point the letter makes is about the movie’s effect on children. In particular, the society’s statement mentions the scene in which the protagonist bums a smoke off another character while underage. According to the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, this scene is further in conflict with the Japanese “Act for Prohibiting Minors from Smoking.”


Of course, many have already argued that the movie, as a period piece, is well within bounds depicting people smoking since it was so common in the 20s and 30s. The society sees it differently though, writing, “Just because you say it happened in the past doesn’t mean you can ignore the effects that the movie will have on children.” The letter goes on to say that the company (Studio Ghibli) should follow the treaties and laws in place and that there are other ways of depicting the past.

Obviously, not everyone is happy with the Japan Society for Tobacco Control, as attested by the following Internet comments:

Cigarettes are a weak point for me, but that doesn’t mean you can just go around deleting them from everything!

When depicting an era when cigarettes were so commonly smoked, it doesn’t make sense to just skip over them!

Aren’t they just shoving their noses in this so that they don’t lose face, proclaiming the name of the “Japan Society for Tobacco Control?”

Obviously, it’s a touchy subject.

Whether or not the society’s letter actually has any legal merit seems a bit murky to us. After all, we would assume that the movie is protected as free speech, though we’re obviously not lawyers! Still, as Japanese society moves away from smoking, we’re sure that this discussion will continue on for a long time to come.

Sources: ITmedia, Japan Society for Tobacco Control
Image source: Naver Matome (featured image), Photo of posters by RocketNews24