TV & Radio
Britain stands firm in gay adoption row with Catholics
by Lachlan Carmichael
Thu Jan 25, 11:56 AM ET
The British government stood firm in a row with the Catholic church over proposed laws on adoption by gay couples, which clerics say run counter to Vatican teaching on homosexuality.
But Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was still trying to find a compromise on the law, which would force Catholic adoption agencies to consider placing children with gay couples.
"I have always personally been in favour of the right of gay couples to adopt," he said, but added: "I am committed to finding a way through this sensitive and difficult decision."
Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has warned that the new law could force the closure of Vatican-backed adoption agencies, known in particular for finding parents for children with difficulties.
Alan Johnson, minister responsible for adoptions, rejected demands that those Church agencies be exempt from a rule requiring them to consider offering children for adoption by gay couples.
Asked on BBC radio if he thought the government would resist calls for an exemption, Johnson said: "Yes, I do." He also downplayed suggestions of a rift within the British cabinet over the issue.
Murphy-O'Connor wrote to Blair earlier this week warning that the Church would have to close its adoption agencies if legislation forced them to act against their beliefs.
He has received support from the Protestant Church of England.
A spokeswoman from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said her Church was still awaiting an official government response, adding: "Our concern for the welfare of severely disadvantaged children remains."
Catholic adoption agencies have won a reputation for finding families for children with severe behavioral and physical problems.
Blair said the government was still working on proposals that would prevent gays from suffering discrimination and protect vulnerable children who have benefited from adoption through Catholic agencies.
"Both gay couples and the Catholic agencies have a high level of success in adopting hard-to-place children. It is for that reason we have taken time to ensure we get these regulations right," he said.
"We will announce a decision next week and then vote, probably next month," he added.
Johnson appeared to indicate that vulnerable children could still find homes if the Catholic agencies closed as a result of the row.
"The primary concern, of course, has to be the children concerned in the adoption process and I very much hope the Catholic Church does continue to provide the important service that they do," he said.
"But if they don't, I think we can ensure that children are not disadvantaged by that," he added.
Asked whether Blair's view was against exemption, he replied: "Yes, I think it is."
The proposals are reported to have caused a cabinet split, with Blair and Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, a prominent Catholic, favoring an exemption, and colleagues including Lord Chancellor Lord Charles Falconer, insisting that the rules should apply equally to everyone.
Johnson denied reports that he had led a movement against Blair in cabinet over the issue. Blair's wife Cherie is a Catholic and he is thought to be sympathetic to the Church's position.
"I didn't lead a movement against anybody," Johnson said.
Churches set to lose appeal on UK gay adoption law
By Jeremy Lovell
Thu Jan 25, 9:50 AM ET
A bid by the Catholic and Anglican Churches in Britain to exempt Catholic adoption agencies from being forced to place children with gay couples got Muslim backing on Thursday but still looked set to fail.
The Equality Act, which comes into force in April, is designed to stop discrimination against gay and lesbian couples wishing to adopt a child, but the Church leaders called for an exemption for Catholic adoption agencies on faith grounds.
On Thursday, Muslims voiced support for the exemption and described the government's apparent rejection as absurd.
"The Muslim Council of Britain fully supports the principled stand taken by the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican Churches," it said in a statement, adding that homosexuality is banned in Islam.
The battle between Church and state involved British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was said to have favored an exemption, risking a revolt by most of his ministers and underscoring the weakness of his position in the closing months of his premiership.
But on Thursday Education Minister Alan Johnson, who has responsibility for adoption, said the government, including Blair, saw no case for special treatment.
"I don't see a case for exemption and I don't think the prime minister does," he told BBC radio.
"The case for no exemption has been made very eloquently. The strength of that argument suggests that we cannot introduce legislation to protect gays and lesbians against discrimination and at the same time allow that discrimination to continue."
Blair said a decision would be taken next week and that while he favored the right of adoption by gay couples he also wanted to ensure the Catholic agencies continued their work.
"I have always personally been in favor of the right of gay couples to adopt. Our priority will always be the welfare of the child," he said. "I am committed to finding a way through this sensitive and difficult issue."
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, and Archbishop of York John Sentamu wrote to Blair on Wednesday backing a call by the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for the special exemption.
Murphy-O'Connor's letter to Blair argued that to force Catholic agencies to place children with gay or lesbian couples went against the Church's teachings.
"We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist ... Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the Church and their own consciences," he wrote.
Murphy-O'Connor said it would be a tragedy if the agencies were forced to close as this could put some 4,000 children awaiting adoption at a disadvantage.
Despite a similar reaction to an equal rights law on adoption in the United States, so far Catholic adoption agencies in only two cities have shut.
Johnson said the Church leaders' pleas were a minority view and Jewish and Anglican adoption agencies had made no such call.
"I very much hope that the Catholic Church does continue to provide the important service that they do. But if they don't, I think we can ensure that children are not disadvantaged by that," he said.
"We want to try and find a way through," he said, suggesting a transition period before Catholic agencies had to comply.
The 12 Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales handle around one third of all voluntary sector adoptions.
(Additional reporting by Sophie Walker and Paul Majendie in London and Michael Conlon in Chicago)
Japanese director announces production of Nanjing film to deny massacre
The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
When Japanese troops conquered the then-capital of China in 1937, historians agree they slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in an orgy of violence known since as the Rape of Nanking.
But a Japanese nationalist filmmaker announced Wednesday that he is working on a documentary with a very different message: the massacre never happened.
The film, to be called "The Truth about Nanking" and completed in August, will be based on testimony from Japanese veterans, archival footage and documents that proponents say prove accounts of the killings are nothing more than Chinese propaganda.
"This will be our first effort to correct the errors of history through a film," director Satoru Mizushima said at a Tokyo hotel, joined by a group of conservative lawmakers and academics who support the project.
Mizushima, president of a rightwing Internet broadcaster "Channel Sakura," said he hoped to enter the film in international festivals later in the year. He is aiming to raise about 300 million yen (US$2.47 million; €1.89 million) for the effort.
The film is part of a gathering wave in Japan of "massacre denial" projects, mostly books, that attempt to debunk a slaughter that historians say killed at least 150,000 civilians. China says the death toll was as many as 300,000.
The film was certain to rile audiences in China, and opponents say it would only cause embarrassment for Japan.
"They say the film will transmit the truth about Nanking, but they will be only spreading shame for Japan," said Shinichiro Kumagai, a civil activist studying the massacre in Nanjing — the current name of the city — and supporting Chinese war victims.
"The move only reveals their inability to face Japan's wartime past by looking the other way," Kumagai said.
The film is based on the work of Japanese historian Shudo Higashinakano, whose work includes two books published in the late 1990s that claim the massacre was a hoax.
A Chinese court last year awarded a Nanjing Massacre survivor 1.6 million yuan (US$200,000; €156,100) in compensation after ruling against Higashinakano and another historian for claiming she fabricated her account of the atrocity.
The massacre, brought to a worldwide audience in English by Iris Chang's book, "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II," is widely seen as a gruesome symbol of Japan's bloody conquest of East Asia in most of the first half of the 1900s.
The massacre is a cause celebre of Japan's increasingly active nationalist groups, which are pushing to cull references to it in public school textbooks and discredit accounts of the slaughter.
Japan's rightists argue Nanking's population was too small to have suffered such a huge massacre, and they claim doctored photographs and exaggerated witness accounts have created the false image of Japanese soldiers as craven and bloodthirsty.
Wednesday's announcement coincides with this week's showing of the documentary "Nanking," a study of the brutal Japanese occupation of the city, at Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
Mizushima said his project was aimed at countering that film, among others planned this year marking the 70th anniversary of the disgraced past.
"Keeping silence to a film like this would allow anti-Japan propaganda to spread around the world as universal knowledge," he said, adding that such works contribute to anti-Japanese sentiment by portraying his countrymen as "brutal barbarians."
The Japan Times
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007
POLITICIANS, WRITERS BACK COUNTER TO CHANG'S 'RAPE'
Filmmaker to paint Nanjing slaughter as just myth
By JUN HONGO
About 40 people, including Diet members, university professors and critics, rallied Wednesday behind a Japanese director's plan to shoot a film putting his spin on the Nanjing Massacre in which he claims the butchery of Chinese by the Japanese Imperial Army is nothing more than political propaganda.
In a news conference held to "strike back against an erroneous understanding of history," people including Upper House members Hirofumi Ryu and Jin Matsubara gathered to support Satoru Mizushima, director and producer of "Nanking No Shinjitsu" ("The Truth About Nanjing"), which will depict the filmmaker's account of what took place in 1937.
Though not present at the news conference held at a hotel in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, supporters of the film also include Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and well-known journalist Yoshiko Sakurai.
"Gov. Ishihara has shown his keen support and I am very thankful," said Mizushima, 57, who has taken part in the production of more than 300 films and documentaries, including the 1995 war epic "Minami No Shima Ni Yuki Ga Furu."
"I feel a huge responsibility to spread a correct understanding of history," the director reckoned.
Most historians see the ruling by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East as the commonly accepted version of events. It stated that more than 200,000 Chinese were victims in the Nanjing Massacre perpetrated by the Imperial army. However, the number of people killed and other facts about the incident have been debated for decades.
Mizushima's announcement follows the screening of "Nanking" earlier this month at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. The documentary received rave reviews for portraying the slaughter of Chinese by Japanese soldiers.
The movie features interviews with Nanjing residents as well as filmed stage readings by Hollywood actors Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of author Ernest Hemingway.
But Mizushima, who sees the release of "Nanking" as a "setup by China to control intelligence," claims that film is based on fabrications and gives a false impression that Japanese soldiers committed atrocities and were evil.
He said he feels obliged to counter that film by making his own, which he said will tell the world what really happened.
"The anti-Japan propaganda will spread all over the world and become an established fact. That would not only put shame on the Japanese people but also disgrace those who fought in the war, which is unacceptable," Mizushima said.
Upper House member Ryu of the Democratic Party of Japan agreed, claiming "many people show no concern regarding the issue, but correct history and the truth must be brought out."
Mizushima's film, scheduled to hit theaters in December in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the fall of Nanjing to Japanese forces, will feature interviews, documentary footage and re-enactments by actors.
But the director vowed the movie won't be bigoted or spread anti-Chinese ideology.
"A part of history is being distorted. My goal will be to tell the facts as they are," he claimed.
Using documentaries to spread different interpretations of history has been a common occurrence, he said.
In 1998, a film featuring the life of wartime leader Gen. Hideki Tojo -- which critics said tried to glorify Japan's wartime role -- was released simultaneously with the Chinese-Hong Kong film "Don't Cry, Nanking," which portrayed the sufferings of a Chinese family in Nanjing during the 1930s.
When Iris Chang's controversial nonfiction book "The Rape of Nanking" was published in late 1997, conservative scholars held a news conference in Tokyo to point out historical inaccuracies they claimed it contained. Chang's book is expected to be released as a feature film in 2008.
JAPAN: Unease over Japanese Rape of Nanking film
Nationalist satellite TV channel announced plans for film to combat 'anti-Japanese propaganda'
South China Morning Post
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Tokyo --- Japanese nationalists yesterday announced plans to produce a film marking the 70th anniversary of the Nanking Massacre.
Tentatively called The Truth of Nanjing, the film will be directed by Satoru Mizushima, the head of a nationalist satellite TV channel.
"If we remain silent, anti-Japanese propaganda will spread across the world," Mr Mizushima told a news conference flanked by dozens of supporters, including members of the Japanese parliament.
He announced a committee of scholars and politicians to raise funds for the movie, which they hope to finish by the end of the year.
Chinese historians say 300,000 civilians were slaughtered in Nanjing, known as Nanking in December 1937, in an orgy of murder and rape by Japanese troops.
Chinese state media have also announced a movie based on the best-selling The Rape of Nanking by late American author Iris Chang.
In Xiamen, Li Yiqiang of the Southern Association for Safeguarding the Diaoyu Islands, said plans for the Japanese movie showed that there were still Japanese unwilling to admit the truth of the Nanking Massacre.
"[Shooting a movie like this] will only deepen the rift between people of the two countries," Mr Li said.
Peng Xi , deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at Nanjing University, thinks more lightly about the incident.
"China now adopts a strategy of focusing on the big picture and tolerating small differences," said Mr Peng. "I don't think that this incident will have a big impact."
Additional reporting by Ng Tze-wei.
Date Posted: 1/25/2007
Aljazeera News (English)
Film calls Nanjing massacre 'hoax'
A Japanese filmmaker has announced plans to make a documentary saying that the "rape of Nanjing" in 1937, in which China says 300,000 civilians were killed by Japanese soldiers, never happened.
Satoru Mizushima said his film to "correct the errors of history" will be based on documents showing that Chinese accounts of the killings were a hoax.
Mizushima said his film, The Truth about Nanking, will counter Nanking, a documentary shown this week at the Sundance Film Festival in the US which draws on letters and diaries to portray atrocities suffered by the Chinese at the hands of the Japanese army in the city formerly known as Nanking.
"This will be our first effort to correct the errors of history through a film," Mizushima said in Tokyo.
He said they film would also use testimony from Japanese veterans and archive material.
The director, who is president of Channel Sakura, a right-wing internet broadcaster, said he aims to raise about $2.5 m for the project and participate in international festivals this year.
"Keeping silence to a film like this [Nanking] would allow anti-Japan propaganda to spread around the world as universal knowledge," he said.
The film, supported by conservative members of Japan's parliament and academics, is the latest in a rising tide of mostly book projects trying to debunk the Nanking massacre which Japanese historians say killed 150,000 civilians.
Shinichiro Kumagai, a civil activist studying the massacre in Nanjing, as the city is now called, and supporting Chinese war victims, said the film "will be only spreading shame for Japan".
"The move only reveals their inability to face Japan's wartime past by looking the other way," he said.
Mizushima's documentary will be based on the work of Shudo Higashinakano, a Japanese historian whose work includes two books published in the late 1990s that claim the massacre was a hoax.
Last year, a Chinese court awarded $200,000 in compensation to a survivor of the massacre after ruling against Higashinakano and another historian for claiming she fabricated her account of the atrocity.
Sino-Japanese relations soured over repeated visits by Junichiro Koizumi, the former Japanese prime minister, to the Yasukuni shrine where 14 World War II executed war criminals are honoured among the country's fallen.
Japan's increasingly active nationalist groups have been pushing for references to the Nanjing massacre be removed from public school textbooks.
In a separate development on Thursday, nearly 50 Chinese sued the Japanese government for a 2003 incident in which construction workers broke open a barrel of poison gas left behind by Japanese troops in the second world war.
Forty-three people who were injured and five relatives of one victim who died in the incident want $11.8 million in compensation.
The suit, filed at Tokyo District Court, also demands that Japan cover medical costs and income losses due to health problems blamed on the accident, which happened in Qiqihar city in northeastern China.