The co-director of The Wages of Resistance: Narita Stories, the 2014 documentary about the anti-Narita Airport protest movement, has launched a fundraising campaign to complete work on a follow-up film.
Haruhiko Daijima is hoping to raise ¥3 million for Sanrizuka’s Icarus over the next three months. The funds will go towards covering the costs of editing, producing a soundtrack, mixing the audio and making English subtitles. The shoot itself is apparently almost done, leaving over 100 hours of film to be edited into the final documentary, which is scheduled for release in Japan in spring 2017.
I had somewhat mixed feelings about the previous film, mainly because it fails to give a complete picture of the history and current situation of the Sanrizuka movement. Despite its many merits and notable length (and a recommendation from Abe Mark Nornes), I did not feel it necessarily update the story as much as it could have.
July 4th this year will mark fifty years since a vast tract of land around villages in the Sanrizuka-Shibayama area was announced as the location for the New Tokyo International Airport, as Narita International Airport was first known. It sparked a furious protest movement that resulted in several deaths and hundreds of arrests and injuries over the decades.
The Wages of Resistance: Narita Stories was co-directed by Kōjirō Ōtsu, a veteran of the film crew who shot Shinsuke Ogawa’s famous documentation of the farmers’ (and students’) struggle, though he died shortly after it was completed. Directing duties for the new film are being handled only by Haruhiko Daijima, though once again the music is courtesy of Ōtomo Yoshihide, who never seems to miss an opportunity to join a nonconformist project. (He also provided a rather atypical soundtrack for Masao Adachi’s recent film, Artist of Fasting.)
Sanrizuka’s Icarus would seem to answer some of the issues I had with The Wages of Resistance in that it is turning this time to the students involved with the movement, who did not feature at all in the first film. It will interesting, and revealing, to see which factions and former activists are interviewed, and which are not. From the advance publicity, it looks like the focus is on veterans from Fourth International Japan, especially those who took part in the iconic occupation of the control tower in March 1978, which delayed the airport mere days before it was officially meant to open. One student activist died during the bravado events of that day. Another of the activists arrested and prosecuted would commit suicide soon after his release from prison in 1982, one of at least two suicides associated with the movement. The tower is due for demolition in 2018.
Many farmers and others continue to protest the expansion of the airport, even as the national government congratulates itself on how busy Narita is today thanks to the inbound tourism boom. This economic boon means nothing to the students and other young activists who participated in the anti-airport movement and gave so much for it. They soared and toiled, and many, like the mythical Icarus, flew too close to the sun and fell.