Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Post-War Documentary Films]

The People of Sunagawa

(“Sunagawa no hitobito: Kichi hantai toso no kiroku”)
- 1955 / B&W / 16mm / 27 min

Photography: Matsuda Tadahiko, Sato Tadashi
Editing: Kamei Fumio, Numasawa Isezo
Sound: Okazaki Michio
Producer: Ono Tadashi
Production Companies: Japan Documentary Film, Hokusei Shoji
Source: Japan Document Film

This is the first film from Kamei’s own production company, Japan Document Film (which appears in the closing credits as Japan Documentary Film). The struggle began when then-Prime Minister Hatoyama’s cabinet promised to allow the US to expand Tachikawa Air Base, and tried to use force to make good on the promise. Sunagawa town was a peaceful town in Tokyo’s Kitatama County. Beautiful streams ran through the land, and the inhabitants made their living raising mulberry seedlings. But the inhabitants were constantly bothered by the earsplitting roars of American jets taking off from the base at Tachikawa. The surveying team announced that land was to be requisitioned for the base expansion, and farmers opposed to having the land they had inherited from their ancestors made into an American base organized the town to rise up in opposition. The second survey was conducted on August 24, and the third survey by force on September 13. This time, local residents fought with 1760 police from the early morning. In the afternoon a large number of workers arrived. Picketers formed an offensive scrum to oppose the police, and severe injuries were sustained on both sides. The next day, all of the police arrived wearing metal helmets. They broke through the picket line and forced their way onto the fields with the surveying crew, and the surveying crew began staking survey markers. In the film, the title “They can pound stakes into Sunagawa, but they can’t pound stakes into our hearts” suggests the long fight to come. On the 17th, the National Conference for Strategies against Military Bases held a press conference and announced a new level of conflict as the fight shifted from a local to a national scale. At the end of the film, the “solidarity” battleflag fills the screen.

• Kamei Fumio Retrospective [Pre-War Works] Hiking Song | Shape without Shape | An Introduction to Radio: The Audience | School Broadcasting | The Geology of Fuji | Airspace [Pre-War Documentary Films] Shanghai | Peking | Fighting Soldiers | Kobayashi Issa [Post-War Documentary Films] A Japanese Tragedy | Children of the Base | The People of Sunagawa | Wheat Will Never Fall | Still It’s Good to Live | Record of Blood: Sunagawa | The World Is Terrified: The Reality of the “Ash of Death” | Living in a Rough Sea | Fluttering Pigeons | Voice of Hiroshima | Men Are All Brothers | Towards a World without Arms | All Must Live: People, Insects and Birds | All Living Things Are Friends—Lullabies of Birds, Insects and Fish [Feature Films] War and Peace | A Woman’s Life | Become a Mother, Become a Woman | Woman Walking Alone on the Earth [PR and Educational Films] Poem of Life | Invitation to Japanese Architecture | Penmanship | Quiet Construction Methods | Living with Ideas: A Profile of Sharp | Let’s Weave a Rainbow | Hong Kong, Taipei | Norihei Travel Manners | The Southern Cross Is Calling | Wishing for Tomorrow’s Happiness [Other Works] Underwear Makes the Woman | The Models and the Photographer | Kamei on Kamei: A Record of Yesterday’s Film Production Discussion Group | Human Conceit: The World of Director Kamei Fumio