(Japanese: ゆきゆきて神軍) This outstanding documentary follows Kenzo Okuzaki, a then 62-year old veteran of the Japanese campaign in New Guinea, and his dogged quest to pursue the truth behind the shooting of his two friends- several days after the war had been declared over- by his squad leader, ostensibly for desertion. It shows a variety of responses from now old soldiers to questions about what went on, and what was necessary for survival. Some break down and cry, others get angry and refuse to talk. Okuzaki gets some of the soldiers to talk by attacking them. It’s a story of the man and his methods as well as the horrific reality of what went on in war. It’s revealed that lower class soldiers were killed, and eaten by other soldiers, so that they could stay alive. Okuzaki confronts a number of soldiers, first with the brother and sister of murdered soldiers, then with a friend and his wife who pretend to be these relatives. At the end of the film, we are told that Okuzaki shot the son of the former leader of his unit. He was sentenced to 13 years of hard labour. Okuzaki died in 2005.
This is a documentary about a truly bizarre man. Okuzaki isn’t easy to like, and his methods are easy to disagree with. His moral fury, however, forces others to expose what happened during the war, and provides a hard-hitting insight into what role morality has in a situation where you are close to death from starvation. Okuzaki doesn’t blame those who had to eat others, he blames to people who put the soldiers in this situation- most prominently Hirohito. He also believes strongly that people owe a duty to tell the truth of what happened, to prevent future horrors of war. The method is questionable, but the message is powerful, providing an amazing insight into truth and reconciliation with others and oneself, in a society where facing things publicly and talking openly are rare.