(Tokyo Shimbun: December 13, 2015 Kanagawa Edition – p. 26)
By Kanta Kato
American movie director Leland Buckley (51), who lives Ebina City, finished his film titled “The Omoiyari” (The Sympathy). The director questions the meaning of the U.S. Forces Japan through the movie, focusing on “the sympathy budget,” by which the Japanese government shoulders expenses for the stationing of the U.S. military in Japan. The director depicts the absurdity and the contradictions behind the sympathy budget; thereby, he gets viewers to question the pros and cons of the U.S. military in Japan.
Buckley studied Japanese literature as a research student of the Education Ministry at a Japanese graduate school from 1994. He married a Japanese woman. Buckley had previously lived in Ayase City. While teaching English at a university, he has produced movies. The director began filming “The Omoiyari” in April 2012. Buckley cast light on the construction of housing, schools, and recreational facilities on U.S. military bases in Yokosuka City and Okinawa Prefecture as examples of the sympathy budget. According to the movie, the U.S. military in Japan can use utilities such as electric power, water, and gas as much as they like thanks to the sympathy budget without concern for the cost.
People living near Atsugi base were paid to relocate, unleashing the present uncontrolled spread of urban development around Atsugi. The movie introduces Jinmuji Station on the Keikyu Zushi Line. The station has a ticket gate for the exclusive use of residents of the U.S. military Ikego housing area. The financial source for all of these things was Japanese taxpayers’ money, according to the movie.
Buckley also filmed on location in Guam. U.S. Marine Corps units are scheduled to transfer to the island from Okinawa. The movie conveys the destruction of beautiful coral reefs by the base buildup and the lives of the dislocated Aborigines. The movie is critical of the fact that Japanese taxpayers’ money pays for these things as well.
“I want people who watch the movie to understand that there are victims of the sympathy budget,” says Buckley. “I want everyone to judge what should happen hereafter.” While depicting many human right violations caused by the U.S. military presence, the director does not forget to include lighter moments. “I think people will burst into laughter at least five to six times,” he says. “Movie buffs can enjoy this film.”
A screening of the movie and a talk by Director Buckley are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 on the fifth floor of Well City Citizens’ Plaza, located at 1, Nisihemi-cho, Yokosuka-shi. For further information, contact Masao Sawazono at 090-4835-6681.