chapter  46
Tradition and Modernity in Japanese Film Propaganda: Nippon Nyūsu, 1940– 1945
Pages 7

In October 1939 a new Film Law was put into effect which made showings of newsreels and documentaries compulsory in all cinemas; and government concern with newsreels soon extended to action to amalgamate the existing Asahi, Mainichi, D mei and Yomiuri organizations into a single Nippon Ny su Eigasha ‘Japan News Film Company’, which began its operations in April 1940.4 In its formative period the new company issued three Special Weekly Film Reports, but on 11 June 1940 it issued the first edition of Nippon Ny su, a regular newsreel which appeared on 254 occasions before the ending of the Pacific War.5 Besides being projected in cinemas, Nippon Ny su was also shown in schools and village halls by travelling film units, and constituted one of the most highly organized attempts at mass cinematic persuasion attempted during World War II.6 Clearly the organization, methods and motivation of this propaganda were in no way traditional, but an examination of the content of this major voice of official opinion may reveal the relative balance of tradition and modernity within the rhetoric of Japan’s wartime administration. Such an examination may also indicate something of the broader blend of illusion and reality which characterised thought and action in wartime Japan.