Know Your Enemy: Japan

1993. KNOW YOUR ENEMY-JAPAN (1944-USA), Directed by FRANK CAPRA and JORIS IVENS. This riveting documentary is composed of American and Japanese-made newsreel footage, Japanese motion pictures with historical backgrounds, and several re-enactments, it was produced as a training film for American soldiers who were set to head overseas and do battle against the Japanese enemy during World War II, Today, it works as a potent example of the power of the moving image and the manner in which the Japanese people were presented to Americans during wartime. It depicts the “Japs” as little more than ritualistic savages whose goal in the war is “to cover the eight corners of the world with a Japanese roof.” The point is pounded across that they are historically “a warring, bloodthirsty people” with a “fanatical spirit.” Their national credo is “the art of treachery and the double cross.” Warlords within Japan maintain a vicious grip on the counÂtry. Fathers regularly sell their teen-aged daughters into prostitution. “Thought police” arrest citiÂzens for “thinking bad, selfish, dangerous thoughts.” The Japanese soldier is portrayed as a formidaÂble enemy. Of a typical Japanese fighter the viewer is told, “He is hard. He is able. He knows his job. His endurance is phenomenal.” He has been taught that “to be a soldier is the highest human achievement in Japan.” Brutality, rape and torture are justifiable if used against non-Japanese peoÂple. Death in battle to the Japanese GI is “the attainment of an ideal” while deceased soldiers are considered to be “warrior gods.” if you are Japanese, you believe you have been “commanded by heaven to conquer all other races ‘and peoples…That’s why mothers and wives accept the ashes of their dead soldiers without grief or sorrow.” Ultimately, the film is a collage of shattering images. Some are so graphic that it is no wonder that unlike other War Department productions this film was never released to the general public. 63 minutes. Propaganda