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“Oppenheimer” Premieres in Japan: Reflections on Legacy in the Shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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(CTN News) – The premiere of “Oppenheimer” took place on Friday in the country where two cities suffered obliteration 79 years ago due to the nuclear weapons crafted by the American scientist.

The film, which delves into the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, subject of an Oscar-winning production, sparked a range of emotions among Japanese audiences.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, who survived the devastation of Hiroshima at the age of 3, expressed his enduring fascination with Oppenheimer’s narrative.

Often referred to as “the father of the atomic bomb” for his pivotal role in the Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer’s story resonates deeply with Mimaki and many others.

Reflections on “Oppenheimer” and Hiroshima’s Perspective

Expressing a tone of sadness, Toshiyuki Mimaki, chairperson of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization, pondered the motivations behind Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Reflecting on the war that followed, he questioned the wisdom of initiating a conflict that seemed unwinnable.

Mimaki, who watched “Oppenheimer” at a preview event, expressed disappointment that the film did not directly portray the devastation wrought on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead, it focused on J. Robert Oppenheimer’s personal journey and inner conflicts.

The film’s delayed release in Japan, occurring over eight months after its debut in the U.S., was met with cautious anticipation due to the sensitive nature of its subject matter.

At a preview event in the southwestern city, former Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka criticized the film for not adequately depicting the horrors of nuclear weapons from Hiroshima’s perspective.

He lamented that the movie seemed to justify the use of the atomic bomb as a means of saving American lives.


Following the premiere of “Oppenheimer” in Tokyo, some moviegoers offered praise while others expressed mixed emotions. One anonymous viewer emphasized the film’s significance to the Japanese audience despite its emotionally charged subject matter.

Another individual, also choosing to remain anonymous, admitted being moved by the portrayal of Oppenheimer’s internal struggles.

The film’s release was not without controversy, as evidenced by last year’s backlash over the “Barbenheimer” marketing campaign, which juxtaposed the lighthearted Barbie with the intense subject matter of Oppenheimer.

Warner Bros. Japan’s Apology and Criticism

Warner Bros. Japan issued an apology after facing criticism for inappropriate imagery.

Kazuhiro Maeshima, a professor at Sophia University specializing in U.S. politics, described “Oppenheimer” as a reflection of evolving American values.

While some may anticipate an anti-war stance, Maeshima noted that the film’s narrative signifies a significant departure from past sentiments dominated by nuclear weapon justification.

Takashi Yamazaki, director of “Godzilla Minus One,” suggested that Japan might need to provide its response to “Oppenheimer.”

Expressing interest in potentially tackling this challenge himself, he discussed the idea with Christopher Nolan, who expressed enthusiasm for the concept.

Hiroyuki Shinju, a lawyer, highlighted Japan’s own wartime atrocities and its involvement in nuclear weapons research during World War II.

Shinju emphasized the importance of “Oppenheimer” as a catalyst for discussions surrounding the legitimacy of nuclear weapons use and Japan’s reflection on its history and role in warfare.

His commentary, published by the Tokyo Bar Association, suggests that the film could serve as a starting point for broader societal introspection.


Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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