Internationally renowned Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement from feature films in September of 2013 but is now reported to be working on a computer generated animated short, pretty much attracts attention for whatever he does or says. And while it’s nothing new, this time, it’s Miyazaki’s anti-war and anti-military statements, and not his animated works, that have recently been making headlines on the Japanese internet, especially as he referred to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his statements, and not in a positive light.

As the tone in some of his films may suggest, Miyazaki is known for his strong anti-war views and also not being shy about voicing them. In fact, he has even become one of the joint representatives of the “Henoko Fund”, a group of business leaders and politicians who are contributing their effort and money to prevent the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture from its current location in Ginowan City to Henoko Bay.

The high concentration of American military bases in Okinawa has been a source of contention for many years, and the situation surrounding Futenma Air Base has been particularly controversial, as there had been initial plans to move the base completely off of Okinawa, and also due to the fact that the proposed relocation site of Henoko Bay is home to a delicate coral reef environment.

▼ An aerial view of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma

800px-Marine_Corps_Air_Station_Futenma_20100526Wikimedia Commons (“Marine Corps Air Station Futenma 20100526” by Sonata)

It was in this context that Miyazaki held a press conference earlier this week exclusively for members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Miyazaki made his stance concerning the relocation of Futenma Air Base clear in the conference, stating that “A majority of the people in Okinawa are opposed to establishing the base in Henoko. It will not be an easy path, but we will certainly continue to take action in every way possible for as long as necessary,” and “I am opposed to the building of a base on reclaimed land in Henoko.”

The conference also touched on the subject of national security legislation, which Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to get passed through the Japanese Diet. Japan’s current pacifist constitution prohibits the country from engaging in any acts of war, and as result, Japan’s Self Defense Forces (as a country that isn’t allowed to go to war, Japan doesn’t have a “military”, hence the Self Defense Forces instead)  are strictly limited to self-defense and non-combat activities. Prime Minister Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party, which he heads, have been pushing for security legislation that will broaden the scope of the Self Defense Forces’ activities in several ways, including the option to exercise the right to collective self-defense when an ally of Japan comes under attack.

Concerning Abe’s political stance in this regard, Miyazaki commented during the conference, “He probably wants to go down in history as a man of greatness who changed the interpretation of the Constitution, but what he is doing is foolish.” Miyazaki also stated that Abe’s views on this matter was exactly the opposite of his own.

Miyazaki further said that he believes the pacifist constitution is important to the Japanese people because after 15 years of war, which had devastated the country and its people, a constitution that held the promise of peace was like a ray of light in the darkness.

On a lighter note, Miyazaki also admitted that with the work he is now doing on the animated short, life hasn’t changed much for him even after his retirement from making anime for theatrical release.

The press conference was broadcast live on the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s channel on YouTube, and as can be expected with a hugely controversial topic, his statements prompted much disucssion on the Japanese internet. A good many people seemed to feel that Miyazaki was entitled to his opinions, while many others also pointed out that simply advocating for peace doesn’t provide a way for a country to defend itself.

We guess we’ll be hearing more from Miyazaki on the subject, and in the meantime, we’ll also wait for news on his latest animated work, which we’re certainly looking forward to!

Source: Bengo4.com, Inc.
Top Image: Wikipedia/Natasha Baucas