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12 February 2010

Film"The Barbarian and the Geisha" John Wayne in Japan

John Wayne played as U.S. diplomat, Townsend Harris who arrived in Shimoda, Japan 1850's. All the scenes were filmed in Japan 1950's.

Surprised to know John Wayne, a famous cowboy actor was in Japan for filming such historical story.  

I do not know if the film was based on accurate historical facts. The movie overall was not bad but the actress who played as Geisha serving Harris did not act well.

It is a story of US diplomacy which forced or persuaded Japan to open up door to the rest of the world. That was the beginning of Japan's modernization after more than 2 centuries of Seclusion period. Ending seclusion was a big controversy at that time and there was pros and cons among the government. Some politician tried to assasinate pro-open Japanese politician and Harris.

This film made me think what was the relationship between two countries. After the first treaty was signed between the two, the both worked together to counter Russia in 1904-1905 but in 1940's the two entered the war. U.S. won, occupied and democratised Japan.

After the second world war, the world went through the Cold War Period, Japan sided with the U.S. That gave Japan favourable position against the U.S. The U.S. had to treat Japan nicely to prevent communism from spreading in Asia. Japan could receive great financial aid from the U.S. and export goods to the U.S. market.

The U.S. won the Cold War. The U.S. became only superpower of the world.

But 911, the war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lehman shock changed the things.

The U.S. is no longer dream world nor role model for the democracy. 

I, myself recently stopped being very much familiar with the U.S. The U.S. has become one of foreign countries I know.

Especially since military issues such as deployment of CVN 73 in Yokosuka and relocation plan for Futenma base in Okinawa were raised.

I don't like America any more even though I lived there for more than 5 years as college student and know good people over there.

Things changed.

Japanese attitude towards American has really changed recently, the number of Japanese students studying in the U.S. has dropped almost by half from the period I was there and sales of Hollywood films dropped drastically in recent years. Now more than half of the sales comes from Japanese films, but a few years ago it was opposite.

Well, any diplomacy among states is purely based on pragmatism unlike personal relationship.

We have things owing to the U.S. but America is America. Japan is Japan.

After all, most people like to live in their homeland because that is where they get used to living.  

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