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History as Melancholia: Masahiro Shinoda's Spy Sorge

Tony Williams

“I have lived feeling deep human love everywhere. Reflecting upon my life, sincere love is like brightly shining stars.” (Ozaki Hotsumi, Love is like the Shower of Stars, quoted by John Dower in Embracing Defeat, 92.)

“I think that exploring the mind of a spy like Sorge is the best way to understand the political situation in Japan at that time and find an answer to the question why we went to war with America. Sorge wasn’t on the Japanese or American side, so he could see both opponents fairly.” (Shinoda Masahiro)

Generally known in the West for his Japanese New Wave production, Double Suicide (1969), Shinoda Masahiro (1931- ), has stated that his three hour epic Spy Sorge (2003) will be his last film. His announcement probably represents a combination of recognizing that cinema is a young man’s business as well as the aftermath of an exhausting process of having spent ten years planning the project and raising money for its realization. (1). The first quotation comes from the letters written by the only Japanese executed for treason during World War Two, while the second displays the perspective of a director whose films constantly examine cultural and historical issues influencing the situation of his homeland in the twentieth century. Shinoda made his comment a few years prior to achieving funding for his project.

Apart from its May 10 2004 U.S. Premiere at Yale University in Shinoda’s presence, the film has been rarely screened since and is not currently available on film rental and DVD formats. This may be due to several factors such as its 182 minute length, the focus upon a German-Russian spy and his Japanese collaborator who are little known outside the realms of academic studies in twentieth century history, and the lack of those exciting Japanese New Wave features that made earlier films such as Double Suicide a visual feast of cinematic style. On first sight, for many Western viewers unfamiliar with Shinoda’s work, Spy Sorge’s chosen style appears to resemble those mundane narrative formats of Hallmark Hall of Fame and Masterpiece Theatre productions that are not intended to challenge audiences but rather immerse them in the recreated splendors of a distant past. Furthermore, since we are all supposedly living in that dubious “end of history” at a time when Communism has fallen and become tarnished in the eyes of the general public, Shinoda’s visually sober work will certainly not appeal to devotees of the James Bond and Mission Impossible franchises. Iain Glen’s master spy Richard Sorge lacks the Western cinematic charismatic appeal of Daniel Craig and Tom Cruise. Apart from brief expressions of euphoric joy and emotional distress, he appears as enigmatic as the code ciphers he frequently uses. Some internet respondents refer to the “appalling” nature of the acting and the Scottish actor’s lack of “star level.”(2) Although such remarks implicitly fall into the ideological trap of assuming that a Japanese can not really direct those of different nationalities despite the evidence of Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) and the reverse example of Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima (2007), they also lose sight of the fact that these “faults” may be deliberate.

Spy Sorge represents Shinoda’s attempt to direct a film true to its historical sources. It also makes necessary and relevant artistic choices. Indebted to recent developments in CGI, the film stunningly depicts Shanghai and Tokyo in the 1930s resurrecting buildings that are no longer in existence as well as patriotic Japanese wartime posters dominating 1940’s citizens subjected to deadly air raids. Like Suzuki Seijun’s Tanaki-Goten (2005), contemporary technology is placed in the service of the narrative rather than becoming a distracting raison-d’etre as with most mainstream productions. Spy Sorge’s set designs offer an accomplished level of historical verisimilitude on the part of a director wishing to explore important aspects of his national history usually neglected in the post-war era. The film also uses recent historical work on the period and often quotes from official archive transcripts as in the Kremlin scene when Stalin dismisses his most reliable spy as “a little shit who has set himself up with some small factories and brothels in Japan” as the “Great Leader” refuses to believe a crucial May 19 1941 report warning of an imminent German attack on the Soviet Union. Also, although Sorge never made the comment “The Kaiser took two centimeters from my leg and gave me the Iron Cross for my trouble” at a German Embassy reception, his remark is based on actual documented material. Spy Sorge is not only important for using reliable sources of information. It also operates according to particular stylistic choices associated with Shinoda’s earlier films.

Critics familiar with Shinoda’s work have noticed that his depiction of character is entirely different from those seen in the work of Kurosawa, Ozu, Ichikawa, and Mizoguchi.(3) Although neither Brechtian by design nor culturally iconic by nature, Shinoda aims to create his own type of emotional distance so that audiences may evaluate those competing roles of culture, history, and politics operating upon the conflicting desires of protagonists in his various films. Styles may change. Spy Sorge is no Japanese New Wave film like Double Suicide. That era is long gone. But this does not mean that the director has now succumbed to his culture’s particular version of the “institutional mode of representation” that sacrifices personal style and cultural meaning to the demands of a unified global marketplace.(4) Although the film’s low-key style appears to resemble the type of international co-production we are so familiar with today, it does contain certain unique “auteur” features in terms of style and content.

Born in Gifu Prefecture on March 9, 1931, Shinoda studied Edo theatre at Waseda University but abandoned his plans for graduate level study to find work in film. After passing Shochiku Studios assistant director examination in 1953, he gained experience working under Ozu, Hara Kenkichi, and Tanaka Noboru before directing his first film One-Way Ticket for Love in 1961. His other films such as Dry Lake (1961) and Pale Flower (1964) used empty and alienated characters to evoke contemporary frustration and social entrapment. Shinoda also explored tensions in 1930s Japanese society that involved the suppression of liberal ideas in Punishment Island (1966) and Clouds at Sunset (1967) before filming his most well-known work Double Suicide. Set in the Edo Era (1603-1868), it represented his most radical cinematic experiment combing elements of Bunraku puppet theatre and Japanese New Wave technique in a narrative exploring period theatricality as well as emphasizing conflict between desire and social restraint characterizing Spy Sorge. Shinoda’s other films have also explored Japan’s cultural and historical past. But since MacArthur’s Children (1984), he concentrated upon wartime and Occupation experience in Childhood Days (1990) and Moonlight Serenade (1997). According to Aaron Gerow, “Spy Sorge is the culmination of his ideas on this modern history.”(5)

Spy Sorge’s dispassionate and measured style may appear strange for Western audiences who may only have heard of the director as a 1960’s Japanese New Wave avant-garde stylist. Yet it is part of a deliberate strategy for a director who is much more stylistically and thematically consistent than most audiences believe. In a May 1974 interview with Audie E. Bock, Shinoda mentions that “I would like to take hold of the past and make it stand still so I can examine it from different angles.”(6) He also examines his characters in a manner that the critic has described as an “icy aestheticism.” (7) But, as Bock also notes, “It is this analytical impulse that brings a modern self-referentialism into Shinoda’s techniques, an extension of the Mizoguchi-like detached beauty in the rush of his protagonists to their doom. (8) Like all gifted artists, the director is familiar with great achievements within his own national cinema. He worked as assistant director with Ozu. But, unlike certain Western critics, Shinoda did not agree that Ozu was the most Japanese of directors. “What Ozu wanted to shoot were not human beings. He wanted to film the implements human beings used.” (9) During his American Film interview, Shinoda refers to Ozu’s obsession with a teacup. Despite the fact that Shinoda does not copy Ozu’s style and refers to his New Wave axiom that “We didn’t believe that one human being could accurately portray another,” one early shot in Spy Sorge reveals Ozaki (Motoki Masahiro) holding a teacup for an unusual amount of time (at least for Western audiences) while another later scene with Ozaki and Agnes Smedley (Mia Yoo) contains reference to an early Ozu film. When Smedley notices middle-class unemployment inYokohama, Ozaki remarks that it inspired a film, “I Even Graduated from College” which may be a reference to the 1929 I Graduated But(10) Also, following the failure of the 1936 February 2-2-6 Revolt by young officers, Sorge remarks, “It’s just like the 47 Ronin right down to the snow.” As making a relevant historical parallel, this may also be a reference to Mizoguchi’s celebrated version of the event The Loyal 47 Ronin (1941-42). Thirty years ago Bock also noticed Shinoda’s appropriation of the work of these two directors, especially the influence of Ozu’s Tokyo Twilight (1959) on early films involving precise attention to details within the composition of each shot as well as a type of camera angle “like an aloof reclining deity observing the human condition.” (11). These features also characterize the opening of Spy Sorge as the camera observes Ozaki prior to his arrest. The next sequence reveals Prosecutor Yoshikawa (Kippei Shiina) observing Sorge’s house through his binoculars. After Sorge’s mistress departs, he appears framed through his window immediately prior to his own arrest. Although Spy Sorge is Shinoda’s last film, it does bear many resemblances to what Bock described as his “later style” nearly thirty years ago.


“Shinoda’s camera has become more static like Ozu’s in his recent films, but the angle is closer to Mizoguchi’s – it is Shinoda’s own eye level looking down at his protagonists.” (12)

Despite the fact that no dominant overhead perspective appears throughout the entire narrative of Spy Sorge apart from the opening scene where the Prosecutor looks down through his binoculars towards Sorge’s house, selective use of close-ups and predominance of long shots (especially during the interrogations of Sorge and Ozaki) do occur. These represent not so much the “icy detachment” that critics associate with his work but more a dispassionate analysis of characters trapped within history affected by forces beyond their control. Shinoda feels an intuitive sympathy towards them despite the fact that he also regards their fates as inevitable. This is not due to any conscious Brechtian distanciation that Shinoda attempts to bring into his work but more a particular stylistic choice on the part of those historically conscious directors who in his words “should bear witness to the politics of their age.” (13) As Bock noticed, “Ever since the end of the war, Shinoda had felt a passionate need to know Japan and examine why its political and economic peculiarities had led it into war.” (14) His fascination with the past and the cultural devices of Noh and Bunraku are all part of this exploration that reaches its culmination in Spy Sorge.

Like directors in the later stages of their career such as John Ford, Howard Hawks, Mike Hodges, Jean Renoir, and Imamura Shohei, Shinoda appears to follow a more minimalist style of direction that may have disappointed those familiar with his earlier avant-garde achievements. In his review of Gonza, the Spearman (1986), Robert Silberman noticed that the director decided to set aside “the kind of self-conscious devices that mark Double Suicide preferring instead to observe each movement with a reflective, detached manner reminiscent of Ozu.” He “records the events with the patience and calm of a chess master.” (15) This certainly describes the quiet style of Spy Sorge as well as those two chess games between Sorge and Ambassador Ott (Ulrich Mühe), the last ending with Sorge describing Hitler’s invasion of Russia as “hara-kiri.”

Spy Sorge also exhibits Shinoda’s perennial theme of the conflict between social obligations and personal desire. Sorge becomes separated from his Russian common-law wife Katya (Catherine Flemming) due to his commitment to be a good communist. As General Berzin (Marek Wolodarczyk) tells him in 1932, “We are both good communists, Sorge. To build a worker’s paradise we must all make sacrifices.” Ironically, both men will later be sacrificed for the cause: Berzin dies in Stalin’s purges while Sorge is executed by the Japanese after the Soviet Union refuses to acknowledge his existence. Ozaki is torn between living a quiet life with his family and his more progressive obligations as a humane Japanese attempting to stop militarism and avoid his country’s rush into war. Helma Ott (Karen Friesicke ) experiences frustration in her adulterous relationship with Sorge. Hanako (Hazuke Riona) will fail to find any fulfilling commitment with Sorge while he is alive. Yoshiko’s (Koyuki) marital happiness with Branko Vukelic (Armin Marewski) will be short-lived. She will face a lonely existence as a war widow like Hanako. As Sorge’s voice-over states, “Vukelic was not alone in wanting a peaceful life but Hitler made that impossible.” An image of marital bliss is cut short by a newsreel sequence depicting Hitler’s victory over France. The happy post-war marital reunion between freed spy Max Klausen (Wolfgang Zachmayer) and his wife Anna (Lena Lessing) is abruptly terminated when Soviet officials in Tokyo bundle them into a car resembling that Moscow NKVD vehicle used to transport Sorge’s common-law wife Katya to the Gulag where she will die a year later. Shinoda significantly pans right towards the end of this sequence to reveal the unfortunate woman bundled into the car framed through the window of her apartment. If Shinoda’s other films involve conflicts between personal desire and social obligations, Spy Sorge depicts similar tragic consequences. Human desires become victims of historical forces.

As with Gonza, Spy Sorge almost entirely employs a straightforward narrative. It also permits a few notable stylistic exceptions such as flashbacks, freeze frames and slow-motion images, the last exhibited in scenes where Sorge passes documents when riding his motorcycle to a courier driving a car. During his final scene he descends in slow-motion to his “death by hanging” punctuated by a future historical flash-forward to the dismantling of Lenin’s statue by post-communist crowds whose actions resemble a lynch mob. Spy Sorge also uses the anachronistic wipe-editing technique, a device associated with pre-war cinema. The style significantly combines elements from two past masters who also commented upon Japanese society in different ways as Silberman notes in relation to Gonza.

“Like Ozu, Shinoda beautifully exploits long takes and a static camera. But Shinoda studied Mizoguchi’s style as well, so that he is also a master of fluid camera movements and a dynamic sense of montage that is less constricted than Ozu’s.” (16)

However, due to its theme of individual entrapment by historical forces, Spy Sorge exhibits little of Mizoguchi’s style involving the final transcendence of social forces by desire. Characters are often confined within frames even during moments of brief joy as when Sorge dances when he hears about Katya’s pregnancy and his successful infiltration into the German Embassy. Such unrestricted movements occur when Sorge momentarily relinquishes his deceptive mask of identity. But they are always abruptly terminated. Like Gonza, Spy Sorge avoids the type of extroverted acting familiar to mainstream audiences whether involving Western or Japanese actors. But, at the same time, these performance techniques suggests restrained feelings on the part of various characters trapped between the competing realms of individual desire and social obligations.

Spy Sorge opens with a quote from the Chinese poet Lu Xuan (1881-1936). “Hope cannot be said to exist/Nor can it said not to exist/It is just like the roads across the earth/For actually the earth has no roads to begin with/But when many men pass one way, a road is made.” Reference to those these lines occurs in the final meeting between Ozaki and Sorge in the streets of Tokyo when it becomes evident that Japan is heading towards war. Sorge looks behind him and regrets the future loss of these “nice people” after learning of the failure of the diplomatic Imperial Conference between America and Japan. Ozaki then states that “In the beginning there was no road. If no one works there will never be a road. And there will be no hope.” Both men attempt to build their own roads towards peace. They both equally express resignation. At the same time, they make a difference by warning the outside world about Japanese military aggression.

Why does Shinoda use the words of a Chinese poet to introduce his film rather than a Japanese writer? According to an interesting article by Christopher Robins about Lu Xuan, China’s most famous progressive writer had a particular resonance for Japanese culture before and after the war. His works were translated into Japanese from the mid-1920s and his views were very respected by liberal movements in Japanese society before their suppression in the 1930s. In 1991, the Japanese playwright Inoue Hiashi (1934 - ) published a play Shanghai Moon. It was a fictionalized portrayal of Lu Xuan involving the benevolent influence of some Shanghai Japanese residents upon the writer’s personality and future literary achievements. Hiashi was the son of a political activist who died in 1939. Due to his progressive views, Hiashi’s family became isolated as Japanese society moved towards militarism. But his widow Inoue Masu actually applauded a lecture Ozaki gave in her home town just weeks before his arrest when he criticized Japanese aggression in China. During his incarceration Masu sent many letters to him. An important connection exists between the historical figure of Ozaki, Lu Xuan, and Inoue Hiashi.

“From the early 1990s to the present, most of Inoue’s plays have portrayed individuals struggling to maintain their humanity in the face of the overwhelming material and ideological forces during the time of the early 1930s to the end of the Pacific War.” (17)

Inoue’s family background and growing up in a small farming community contributed to his work. Despite lacking any overt historical and political message, his plays exhibit an iconoclastic desire to subvert conservative fictions regarding Japanese identity and to show that not all people are the same. In Shanghai Moon, the playwright presents positive examples of Japanese people expressing sympathy and compassion for Lu Xuan up to the very end of his life. These Japanese characters echo the forgotten historical roles of figures such as Ozaki who also expressed compassion for the plight of Chinese brutalized by the Japanese military in 1930s Shanghai. One scene in Spy Sorge showing Ozaki and Smedley witnessing force used against a solitary female activist (shot briefly and conspicuously in freeze frame as she pauses before them prior to her arrest and brutal beating by local police) illustrates this principle. Robins describes the crucial message of Shanghai Moon.

“Although Lu Xuan was never a member of the Chinese Communist Party, it is striking to see this literary giant within the Chinese Socialist movement being nursed back to psychological and physical health by Japanese citizens during a period when the Japanese Government’s official stance was so violently anti-communist, not to mention arrogantly belligerent toward China in general.”

Shanghai Moon contrasts totalitarian ideology with individual compassion. Spy Sorge also operates in a similar, but much bleaker, manner. A few minutes before his arrest, Ozaki stands with the back of his head to the camera positioned in a manner resembling Magritte’s famous 1937 surrealist painting Portrait of Edward. It follows an extended long shot where he handles his teacup in a manner echoing a Ozu scene.

Yet, instead of that famous surrealist mirror image, Ozaki looks at an illustration of a goddess drawn earlier in a temple by Miyagi (Nagasawa Toshiya). It appears at the right of the frame in the background while the back of Ozaki’s head occupies the left foreground. The goddess is Kuan Yin, or Kannon in Japanese, the bodhisattva of compassion venerated by East Asian Buddhists usually as a female, from the mid 7th century A.D. onwards. When Ozaki encounters Sorge in Japan, their meeting occurs inside a temple. Both gaze at the statue. Sorge states, “After China, it’s all so peaceful here…You know I’ve come to shatter your peace, Ozaki.” This is not the only time that desire for peace will suffer disruption. As Sorge’s later voice-over remarks over marriage scenes showing Branko and Yoshiko finally enjoying wedded bliss in church, Hitler’s European conquest will eventually destroy the happy union between two opposite figures from different cultures.

The last time the goddess appears in the film accompanies the last letter Ozaki reads to his wife in voice-over from the grave. His ashes now appear below the illustration. Chinese and Japanese associations of this goddess of compassion are not accidental. Sorge, Ozaki, and Miyagi meet in the temple of Todai-ji in Nara. It contains several items that were imported from China and that statue may be one of them. The colossal figure of the Buddha is of Japanese origin and has often appeared in films shot on location in Japan such as Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo (1955). According to Richard Modiano, the temple was built in the Tang era and Japan may have employed Chinese craftsmen for its construction. During that time, the Japanese rulers brought over many Chinese artisans, scribes, and Buddhist clergy to work for the government. (18) Also, during a later part of the film when Helma Ott visits Sorge in hospital following his motorcycle accident, she remarks that his face resembles a Noh mask. Shinoda immediately cuts to a Noh performance watched by Vukelic and Yoshiko. This sequence is not accidental. Its cultural significance parallels the important role that Bunraku plays in Double Suicide. Although Noh is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the fourteenth century and is now undergoing a revival, its roots also go back to Chinese Nuo and Saragaku theater. It is another example of Shinoda’s cultural “structures of feeling” in Spy Sorge implicitly emphasizing that past collaborative unity between China and Japan. Now these two countries are adversaries. Despite being regarded as a particularly Japanese mode of performance, like the Todai-ji Temple Noh has benefited from Chinese influence at a time when both cultures engaged in a beneficial cross-fertilization. Although Spy Sorge has no direct connections to Noh, the film’s visually minimalist style and lack of spectacle contains indirect parallels to that particular form of Japanese theater.

Although Ozaki’s posthumous status changed from traitor to patriot and martyr in the post-war era, particularly due to the activities of a Japanese Communist Party seeking to promote an alternative type of political hero, the historical Ozaki was much more complex. He never joined the Party and was more devoted to his family and humanitarian causes as loving letters he wrote to his wife in prison revealed.(19) Spy Sorge depicts Ozaki as sympathetic to the plight of the Chinese in the same way that the humane Japanese characters in Shanghai Moon comfort the troubled Chinese writer Lu Xuan. Not all Japanese were “banzai”- chanting robots ready to die for the Emperor and the ruthless colonial policy of the Showa military establishment. Certain individuals followed more progressive and thoughtful paths by exhibiting compassion towards the plight of others, especially Chinese. China had a long history of positive involvement with Japanese culture denied in a xenophobic 1930s era that saw it merely as a country ripe for exploitation. Ozaki exhibits compassion towards the plight of the Chinese and acts upon by becoming involved with the Sorge Spy Ring. He displays humanitarian feelings that conflict with the ideology of his contemporary society. The outcome is tragic as in the majority of Shinoda’s work. Before his arrest Ozaki tells a colleague, “Even if I betray my country, I’ll never betray my people.” When Ozaki meets Sorge again at the Japanese temple he states his own version of a peaceful and prosperous direction for East Asia. “We must create a new system.” Quite obviously, this “new system” will differ from the plans of Tojo as well as Stalin’s similar perspectives. Ozaki’s undefined “system” is more compassionate and humane than either totalitarian alternative. Unlike Sorge, Ozaki is more optimistic despite the fact that his involvement will also end tragically. During a street demonstration by the Chinese Communist Party in 1930s Shanghai, Ozaki meets American journalist Agnes Smedley.(20) He has knows of her work from the German translation of her autobiographical narrative Daughter of Earth (1929), translated into German as “Eine Frau Allein.” His editor at the Asahi Shinbum newspaper sees the book and expresses skepticism about her “communist contacts.” Ozaki replies that she is “the most perceptive female journalist in Shanghai.” The editor responds that, “It’s not well to feel sorry for people in China.” But these two characters do in different ways. Ozaki and Agnes oppose the restrictive ideological boundaries of their homelands. He exhibits sympathy for the plight of the Chinese people victimized by Japanese colonialism. She regards China as her real home and will later become an important champion of the Chinese people in books such as China’s Red Army Marches (1934), China Fights Back: An American Woman with the Eight Route Army (1938), Battle Hymn of China (1943), and the posthumously published The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh (1956), and Portraits of Chinese Women in Revolution (1976).

Smedley introduces Ozaki to Sorge and induces him to pass on important information about Japanese intentions in China. The film contains no doubts about her role in Sorge’s espionage activities. She leaves a restaurant with Sorge on the back of his motorcycle after asking Ozaki, “Help him if you can as a favor to me.” All three aim to free Asia from Japanese colonial rule. But they are romantic idealists and will become tragic victims of historical destiny like the two leading characters in Double Suicide. When Agnes meets Ozaki in Yokohama for the last time on October 19, 1934, he has already translated Daughter of Earth into Japanese giving it the new title of “A Woman Strides the Earth.” Before her boat leaves Japan, they embrace and kiss for the last time. Agnes clasps his hand as she did on their first meeting in Shanghai. As they kiss, their reflection appears on a window showing them as poignantly ephemeral figures dominated by the waves as if expressing the fact that their idealism and romantic bonding will be swept away by forces beyond their control.

In a later scene following Ozaki’s realization that Prince Konoe’s diplomatic attempts to avoid war with America will fail, he is seen at a window with the American flag reflected in the background. Despite hopes for peace, a dark historical destiny is in process. The imagery in this scene suggests which nation will actually win the future conflict. It is good news for Sorge as Ozaki tells him on their last meeting. “The Soviet Union is safe for now.” However, both men recognize Japan’s ominous future.

Although Spy Sorge appears to be focused upon its title character, Richard Sorge does not operate in isolation from the Japanese cultural context. Despite the dominant role of its Western actor, Spy Sorge is a confluent film deeply rooted in Japanese culture and history. It is no Western James Bond narrative focusing upon individual espionage activities. Although Shinoda may have originally intended to use Sorge to provide an objective perspective on this period of Japanese history, Iain Glen’s character is as equally affected by the film’s cultural perspectives as any Japanese character. Like a Noh theatrical performer he wears his own form of mask to conceal hidden feelings and real identity. When Prosecutor Yoshikawa confronts him with evidence of Ozaki’s confession, Sorge applauds him like a fellow player in a theatrical game. This incident never happened but it appropriately fits within the context of the film.(21) Sorge does not need to perform his arbitrary role as a Nazi Party journalist any further. He can now express his idealistic hopes and reveal his past history as a Soviet spy once the curtain closes on his formerly false dramatic performance.

Shinoda’s version of Sorge presents viewers with a character as much affected by desire and progressive ideals as Ozaki. Sorge and Ozaki have been influenced by the historical currents of their time making them victims of idealism at odds with the authoritarian structures of their respective societies. During his first interrogation, Sorge speaks about the natives of Baku. He exhibits the same type of compassion that Ozaki has for the Chinese people. Sorge speaks about the foreigners in Baku behaving “as if it were their own country, not just the Germans, but the Swedes, Russians, and Americans. While we lived like kings, the local Muslims were living on subsistence wages.” Sorge’s comments parallel those of Ozaki when he makes his confession to Tokko (Special Higher Police) Inspector Takahushe Yosuke (Kamikawa Takaya) after undergoing torture. His flashback begins with images of British, American, and Japanese flags flying over 1930s Shanghai accompanied by extracts from the national anthems of these colonial powers. This is an obvious homage to a scene in Nicholas Ray’s 55 Days at Peking (1963). Ozaki’s voice-over begins: “Shanghai was divided completely by the West as a base of the Asia invasion. Earnings from trade were huge. The Japanese were interested in these rights and intended to keep up these interests. Even those who were unsuccessful at home flooded in.” The next shot reveals Ozaki on a ship watching exploited Chinese coolies victimized by racism by colonial powers. Spy Sorge also reveals national racism on the part of Japan against one of its own marginalized people. Artist Miyagi has returned from California where he has experienced American racism against Orientals. As he accompanies Ozaki on a train journey to meet Sorge at the Todai-ji Temple, he tells him that he also suffers discrimination from the Japanese because of his Okinawan heritage. When he visits Ozaki’s newspaper to bring him to Sorge, he is treated as an outcast by the Japanese staff.

All these characters are ill-suited for the challenging role of espionage since they are all idealists at heart. They search for some form of peaceful existence appropriate to their sensitive feelings. Richard Sorge is the child of a German father and Russian mother born into a similar colonial society to Japan until his family moves to Berlin. Before joining the German Army in World War I, Sorge speaks of his Berlin period as the most “peaceful and comfortable time in my life until the actions of Kaiser Wilhelm interfered.” His comments complement those made later during the wedding of Vukelic and Yoshiko when Hitler’s invasion of France interferes with their own plans for a peaceful and comfortable life. Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony plays ironically over the Berlin scenes depicting Sorge’s former idyllic pre-War life. Sorge is associated with classical music throughout the film, a signifier of Western humanitarian artistic achievements. He passes on his love for this music to Hanako whom he first meets working at the Rheingold Cabaret Club in Tokyo owned by German restaurateur Ketel who introduces them when Sorge celebrates a lonely fortieth birthday. Hanako immediately senses the sensitivity concealed beneath Sorge’s performance mask of a dissolute Western journalist. She is later seen at her parent’s house playing classical music after his arrest. Like Miyagi’s artistic abilities, Sorge’s love for music contrasts with the brutal world of twentieth century totalitarianism. During a German Embassy reception, Chopin’s music plays ironically against the background of the Nazi flag. Sorge describes himself as an idealist to Prosecutor Yoshikawa. He narrates his conversion to Communism. “I joined the Party on my return from the Great War. Millions had perished on all sides. The futility of war was overwhelming. Soldiers and workers united. I was proud to be among them.” During this voice-over, Shinoda uses archive material to depict the turmoil in early post-war German society. When Sorge describes the reasons for his conversion, archive footage of Lenin appears. “Communism is the political expression of justice. It offered hope and the promise of equality.” Spy Sorge eventually reveals the failure of this hope. Sorge moves from the Comintern to the Fourth Department to become involved in espionage. When Sorge and Berzin separate after embracing in Moscow, a huge bust of Stalin dominates the center frame. Despite hearing about the purges and the execution of his political mentor Bukharin, Sorge remains dedicated to the cause of the Soviet Union. When Sorge desperately informs the Soviet Union about a forthcoming German attack, Stalin dismisses Sorge as an agent planted by Churchill in Tokyo. The sequence ends revealing Stalin standing before a mirror dominating a small bust of Lenin on the mantelshelf whose idealistic significance has now become trapped in stone.

Spy Sorge’s concluding scenes contain newsreel material of the dismantling of Lenin’s statue after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Shinoda parallels the hanging of Sorge (who slowly falls into darkness) and the descent of this statue by flash-forwarding to the future. A crowd uses ropes to dispose of a discarded symbolic figure. Sorge dies after rejection by the Soviet Union. Lenin suffers rejection many decades later. Shinoda’s Sorge dies affirming his Communist ideals hoping for Comintern international victory.(22) Ropes surround the eyes of Lenin’s statue that has fallen to the ground. Sorge’s final words affirm idealistic perspectives of a radical vision that became blinded and extinguished by Stalinist totalitarianism. Sorge descends into darkness. Ropes around the eyes of Lenin’s statue facilitate the downfall of his image now indelibly associated with authoritarianism. They also ironically symbolize that final blinding of a powerful vision active in the early years of the twentieth century once existing as a radical alternative expressing hope for a better world that inspired Sorge and Smedley. Sorge and Lenin experience similar fates by falling into darkness.


During a train journey earlier in the film, Helma and Sorge witness poor Japanese children begging for food. As she feeds them from her picnic basket, she comments, “Well it makes one think that Communism has a point.” He replies, “It takes a little more than pity to make a Communist.” His remarks seem to promote his professional experience over Helma’s idealistic innocence. But they may also reveal Sorge’s growing awareness of how far Communism has departed from those early ideals he held in the Weimar Republic.

Hope evaporates in other ways. Ozaki Eiko (Natsukawa Yui) weeps before the ashes of her executed husband. Ozaki’s posthumous voice-over speaks extracts from Love is like a Shower of Stars. Yoshiko travels to the cold and snowy region of Hokkaido to visit the remains of her husband who has died in prison. Their desires for a peaceful life are now over. Hanako reconciles herself to a bleak post-war existence after Sorge’s execution. “People were filled with hope in post-war days. Now I have lost him what would I hope to live for?” These female characters become victims of history in one way or another. Their situations echo Shinoda’s bleak perspectives seen in other films as well as illustrating his perennial refusal to take an easy option by embracing Mizoguchi’s transcendent concept of desire that victoriously opposes dominant authoritarian social structures. After the suicide of Prince Konoe (Takaaki Enoki), the politician who attempted to use diplomacy to avoid conflict between America and Japan and later faced charges of war crimes, his widow (played by Shinoda’s wife Iwashita Shima known for her role in Double Suicide) stands stoically before his body even when bureaucratic American officials disrupt the privacy of her grief as they take photographs and make notes.

She becomes another war widow in Shinoda’s historical drama traumatized by history enduring the melancholia of a lonely future existence similar to Hanako in the film’s final scene.

Hanako’s last appearance represents a confluent embodiment of those feelings exhibited by the other war widows of Spy Sorge: Yoshiko and Princess Konoe. These women bear witness to the presence of history and exhibit different signs of melancholia at its effect on their personal lives. They mourn for the loss of their men. But they also grieve over what they represented. This concept exists as an important structured absence within the film as well as certain key realms of Japanese history and society. Its very allusiveness has deep relevance to what Sorge, Ozaki, and Prince Konoe attempt to do. Although they followed different roads, they operated in diverse personal ways according to the historical mood of their times that also limited the full potential of that one important linked road that existed implicitly within the different strategies they each pursued. Sorge’s motivations derived from international Comintern ideals that conflicted with Stalinism. Ozaki hoped for a particular “new order” that was impossible for 1930s Japan. Prince Konoe attempted in vain to maintain parliamentary democracy and diplomatic negotiations with the West to avoid a forthcoming conflict in which Japan would be the inevitable loser. These men attempted to change the course of future Japanese history in various ways by following different roads according to the ideas expressed by the extract from the poem by Lu Xuan introducing the film. Despite their failure, these different paths represent significant alternatives to that disastrous eventual road of December 7th, 1941. Spy Sorge reveals that Japanese society could have followed a different road. The tragedy of Spy Sorge lies in the fact that these different roads followed by Sorge, Ozaki, and Konoe do not unite by leading towards single humanitarian path of international harmony and peace. Those who attempt this are often hindered by powerful oppositional historical currents existing in their era. The February 26th revolt represents one key example. Despite the progressive aims of the young officers protesting against capitalist exploitation that sells their sisters into prostitution, their movement fails and its egalitarian issues are rejected. Right wing militarists will use the failed revolution for their own ends in much the same way as Stalin appropriated the historical significance of Lenin to promote his own agenda and suppress the idealistic aspirations associated with the deceased leader whose influence brought Sorge into the movement.

Following the unsuccessful February 26th, 1936 revolt on the part of young officers, protesting against social and economic injustices and hoping for a new society under the Emperor in which everyone would be equal, veteran statesman Prince Saijoni Kinmochi (Otaki Hideji) discusses the recent situation with Konoe. Born in 1849, Saijoni is the last survivor of the genro who brought about the Meiji Restoration and changed the direction of Japanese history. Although historians such as Herbert P. Bix regard his efforts as “disastrous for the causes of liberalism and party government in Japan” (23), Spy Sorge depicts Saijoni as a wise old man who had been present on the barricades of the Paris Commune in 1870 and who expresses concern about the rise of an authoritarian military movement in Japan which will use the 2-2-6 incident for their own purposes. He mentions that the military have already taken control of the Imperial Guard. “If we sit back and do nothing the military will take over the government and that will be the end of parliamentarianism.” Despite the fact that the historical Prince Konoe opposed the West and supported the exploitation of China(24), the film also presents him in a more sympathetic light. It shows that his own form of idealism and desire for a changed direction in Japanese politics is as futile and misguided as those of Sorge and Ozaki. Spy Sorge reveals that Prince Konoe is not as dangerous as Tojo. But Konoe also becomes trapped by the same forces of history obstructing the different hopes of Ozaki and Sorge. He avoids execution by committing suicide. Significantly Konoe uses cyanide (revealed in an emphatic close-up) rather than committing hara-kiri. This suggests that he regards himself as not being responsible for the Pacific War like many officials such as War Minister Anami (played by Toshiro Mifune in Kihachi Okamoto’s 1967 film Japan’s Longest Day) who took this option after defeat. The manner of his death suggests recognition that he has also become as much a victim of history as Ozaki and Sorge. By contrast, Vukelic has already become disillusioned by Stalinism and wishes to pursue his own peaceful life as a successful businessman in Tokyo happily married to a Japanese wife. But he will die in a cold Hokkaido prison. Spy Sorge’s concluding scenes depict the brutal closure of different forms of hope. It also emphasizes the melancholic aspect of mourning displayed by three female survivors.

Melancholia in Spy Sorge does not so much represent its Freudian counterpart involving an individual type of pathological mourning arising “from the process of regression from narcissistic object-choice to narcissism” (25) but rather a more collective and historical type of representation. In one significant part of this essay, Freud notes that melancholia may be the reaction to the loss of a loved object in a manner similar to mourning. Any patient may not be consciously aware of other aspects which have also been lost in addition to the actual deceased person in terms of knowing “whom he has lost but not what he has lost in him. This would suggest that melancholia is in some way related to an object-loss which is withdrawn from consciousness, in contradistinction to mourning, in which there is nothing about the loss that is unconscious.”(26) Towards the end of Spy Sorge three women grieve over the loss of their men. But, here, a particular undefined political unconscious operates within the text that suggests the loss of alternatives (whether in Japan or elsewhere) that contemporary historical forces brutally terminate.

Spy Sorge contains associations not just with the rest of Shinoda’s work but also other relevant concerns within Japanese cinema. According to Catherine Russell, certain Japanese melodramas such as Mizoguchi’s Osaka Elegy (1936), Ozu’s End of Summer (1961) and Shinoda’s Double Suicide exhibit a particular type of historical pathos “produced through the encounter of two melodramatic forms that have very different effects of subjectivity. The tension between these two melodramatic dramas locates the historical drama of modernization on an emotional level in which women figure most prominently as indices of historical pathos.” (27) Women do play this role in Spy Sorge, especially in the brief, but poignant, moment that Iwashita appears in the role of Princess Konoe. However, Spy Sorge is not about the historical drama of modernization. It implicitly examines alternative hopes within Western and Japanese society that have been brutally crushed, ignored, and distorted throughout the course of twentieth century history. These ideals are associated particularly with the deaths of Sorge and Ozaki. Their implicit radical dimensions of these ideals (or Freud’s what as opposed to whom) are conspicuously and deliberately undefined in their film remaining almost unconscious at the level of the text. As Hanako views the fall of the Berlin wall on television, she states, “Sorge was not only my lover. He was more than that.” When she identifies his remains by recognizing his World War I wound, a brief flashback occurs showing an earlier scene of Sorge limping on the battlefield accompanied by Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. It appeared during Sorge’s own flashback when he explains his idealistic beliefs to the Prosecutor. This memory evokes not just the contemporary veteran’s definition of the “war to end all wars” but also a desire for a better future world articulated by the use of Beethoven. Historical forces have frustrated this ideal. They will also do so in the future.

The Sorge Hanako mourns represents not only Freud’s definition of the “whom” that is mourned but also embodies a particular what. He is not only her deceased lover but also a historically idealistic figure associated with a past political system that is now being dismantled before her very eyes. Sorge still represents “more than that” in terms of the television footage she watches and her memory recapturing that earlier image of Sorge on a World War I battlefield running away in search of some better world.. Despite the fall of Communism, Sorge’s significance for Hanako represents his embodiment of important humanitarian and universal ideals associated with Lenin. They may occur again in different forms in some unforeseeable time when the desire for peace and the search for that utopian path, followed in various ways by Sorge, Ozaki, and Konoe, eventually succeed.

Sorge’s photograph appears on a wall behind Hanako as she watches the television broadcast. Its position evokes the previous scene showing Eiko mourning where Kannon’s image appeared on the wall above Ozaki’s ashes. History has bypassed the original idealism represented by Ozaki and Sorge who are mourned as individuals. But, melancholy also exists involving the “what” aspects embodied in their different forms of hope that have not entirely died with them. Alternative potentials exist but not in the ways they were expressed in the past. Lu Xuan’s hope still remains.

Spy Sorge concludes in this melancholy manner. The final scene utilizes a specific type of style that Russell finds symptomatic of certain pre-war and post war Japanese films “in which history is represented as a discourse of necessity against which filmmakers adopt a discourse of sorrow.”(28) As in these films, three women are no longer “desiring subjects.” Yet the implicit message of Spy Sorge goes beyond individual mourning as the climax reveals. The mourning of these women also contains melancholic aspects in terms of expressing a particular sorrow for alternatives that were never realized deliberately left vaguely defined and existing on the textual unconscious. Sorge’s belief in the Comintern and Ozaki’s vague definition of a “new system” can not really express these alternatives because they are limited by historical forces. Something else is really important, namely those buried utopian dimensions existing deep within the manifest level of these different types of historical hopes.

Even men in Spy Sorge express mournful feelings. Prior to his arrest, Ozaki’s face resembles that of a condemned man resigned to his fate while Sorge displays tears streaming down his face in one scene when Hanako joins him in bed. Unlike the historical record, Sorge describes both himself and the cause he worked for as failures. “People are never happy. They are always at war. I’ve tried to do something good. But I’m going to die. It can’t be helped.” He expresses melancholic resignation to his eventual fate and sorrow for those he has failed such as Katya, Hanako, and Ozaki. “What was it all for? I failed utterly. The world is at war. I’m weighed down by the weight of my failure. I’m ready for the end.” Ironically, it is the Prosecutor who finally reassures him when he informs him of the Red Army’s victory over the Germans. “Perhaps your life is not entirely wasted after all.” But the following footage shows Stalin declaring victory, the very person who will refuse to save Sorge from eventual execution.(29) Sorge’s espionage activities have changed the history of the Soviet Union. But Stalin’s inhumane attitude will not save Sorge from execution.

As Eiko mourns her deceased husband, Ozaki’s voice occurs on the soundtrack uttering gentle words from his last testament written before he was finally led away to execution. They express deep utopian feelings that can never be defined by any rigid system in the manner that the idealism associated with Lenin became calcified into statues and perverted by Stalin. Ozaki’s final words embody the hope that he offered to his post-war readers. As Dower states, Ozaki’s “vision of world revolution and ultimate beautiful peaceful `universalism’ was almost breathtakingly utopian. In the despair of defeat, he could easily be held up as an eloquent visionary of that `bright’ new world so many Japanese were groping towards in the three years that Love is like the Shower of Stars remained on the bestseller lists.”(30) When Ozaki writes his final words to Eiko on the morning of his execution, Shinoda cuts to a close-up of the eyes of the guard watching him. It is the most extreme close-up that appears in the film so far, intruding both into the personal privacy of Ozaki as well as that of the audience. This close-up represents the authoritarian gaze of a disciplinary public space clashing with Ozaki’s immersion within the gentle and private space of his own thoughts. These feelings represent his future legacy to the post-war generation that also contradicted the official version of the “order of things” during his life time. Dower notes that within “this context, Ozaki’s prison letters, even while describing his grand visions of global revolution and world peace, simultaneously could be read as confirming the importance of private worlds.”(31)

Hanako watches television coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The dismantling of Lenin’s statue briefly accompanied the death of Sorge. Now it appears on the screen for a longer time played to the mournful solitary guitar strains of “The Internationale” an anthem that once expressed early Communist revolutionary and universal hopes before the advent of Stalinism. Spy Sorge’s final image shows Hanako framed in a doorway in a typical Shinoda composition as a radio message, identical to those earlier transmitted by Sorge, runs from right to left of the frame. But this time it transmits utopian feelings from John Lennon’s Imagine involving the end of national boundaries, wars, and religion.

These feelings can not be defined by the manifesto of any political party, past, present, and future. They intuitively express that common ideal imagined in different ways by a Japanese and Russian spy having the same goal of uniting on one road by following those different avenues defined in those lines from Lu Xuan. “Imagine all the people living in peace.” It is a goal as elusive today as in the era of Ozaki and Sorge. It is also something that still exists as appropriate espionage material designed to subvert the militaristic aims of any new successor to Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The message expresses hope. Although transmitted in the darkness, a faint possibility exists that this message might finally be heard some time in the future.

Notes

1. See Mark Schilling, Contemporary Japanese Directors. New York: Weatherhill, 1999, 55, where Shinoda ends his interview by speaking about the problems of raising finance for this project. (return)

2. See, for example, Japanese resident “Kil Killion” who is clearly no native as his remarks in “Spy Sorge” suggest. See http://www.imdb.com/title/ttoe1665.com. denote. Accessed November 17, 2006. (return)

3. See “Dialogue on Film: Masahiro Shinoda.” American Film 10.7 (1985): 10. The interview was translated by Audie E. Bock. (return)

4. I use this term in the sense of the definition by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson in The Classical Hollywood System: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985. The recent work of Bordwell and Thompson affirms that certain continuities exist between classical Hollywood and its successors. For ongoing discussions concerning these issues see Bordwell’s Website see http://www.davidbordwell.net. (return)

5. I have drawn heavily upon Gerow’s Information and Resources Material that accompanied the screenings of Spy Sorge and Owl’s Castle (1999) for the collaborative 2004 Shinoda Presentation by the Yale University’s Council on East Asian Studies, the Film Studies Program, and the Japan Society of Boston. (return)

6. Audie E. Bock, Japanese Film Directors. New York: Kodansha International Ltd, 1978, 342. (return)

7. Bock, 344. (return)

8. Bock, 342. (return)

9. Dialogue on Film, 12, (return)

10. See David Bordwell, Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1988, 193. Only ten minutes of this film survives. Another more complete film dealing with employment issues, I Flunked But...(1930) exists but Ozaki probably refers to the first one. (return)

11. Bock, 348. One of the earliest studies on the Sorge case which Shinoda must have consulted suggests that Sorge may have noticed such parallels as well as the 1860 assassination of a shogun chief minister by nationalist fanatics on a snowy morning. See F. W. Deakin and G.R. Storry, The Case of Richard Sorge. New York: Harper & Row, 1966, 179. (return)

12. Bock, 349. She further remarks that this “Mizoguchi-like detachment has become a consistent feature of Shinoda’s work, a kind of icy detachment best seen in Banished Orin where Kazuo Miyagawa’s camerawork supersedes all messages and emotion.” Significantly, like Howard Hawks, Shinoda uses close-ups very rarely and often only to illustrate particular instances of ironic emotional resonance as in the handcuffing of Ozaki during his arrest, Agnes Smedley’s hand reaching out to Ozaki’s in Shanghai, and a similar hand movement during their last meeting on board her ship as it departs from Yokohama. (return)

13. See David Desser, Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1988, 36-38, 52-56, who quotes from Bock, 348. Desser sees a problem with Shinoda’s Demon Pond (1979) because of its spectacular use of the theatrical sign resulting in a triumph of aesthetic radicalism over an undeveloped political content that is not dialectical in nature. (190). However, Shinoda’s interests may be in other directions. (return)

14. Bock, 343. (return)

15. Robert Silberman, “Gonza the Spearman.” Film Quarterly 41-42 (1987-88): 56. (return)

16. Silberman, 57. Although describing Double Suicide as Shinoda’s “most experimental film to date”, in her 1983 analysis of the film, Keiko I. McDonald, also notes the presence of elements such as lattice window and water imagery. These features also occur in Spy Sorge at significant points in the narrative. See Keiko I. McDonald, “Giri, Ninjo, and Fatalism: Image Patterns and Thematic Conflict in Shinoda’s Double Suicide.” Cinema East: A Critical Study of Major Japanese Films. London: Associated University Presses, 1983, 51-63. Spy Sorge was also not the first time Shinoda collaborated with a German cinema in making a film dealing with German-Japanese relationships. See McDonald, “Short Story into Action: Shinoda’s Maihime (Die Taenzerin, 1989),” Postscript 15.2 (1996): 29-43. (return)

17. See Christopher Robins, “Japanese Visions of Lu Xuan in the Light of the Magic Lantern Incident.” http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2344.com. I am grateful to Richard Modiano for directing me to this article as well as his characteristic generosity in pointing out important cultural and historical sources. (return)

18. Richard Modiano, email communication of February 23, 2007. (return)

19. See Chalmers Johnson, An Instance of Treason: Ozaki Hotsumi and the Sorge Spy Ring. Expanded Edition. California: Stanford University Press, 1990, 197-199; John Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999, 190-195; Richard Whymant, Stalin’s Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, 321. According to Johnson, Ozaki ascribed his open-minded personality both to his mother and his early years in the southern climate of Taiwan. “There is no doubt that Ozaki possessed an open, `Mediterranean’ personality of the sort unusual among Japanese; all of his associates have commented upon it.” (25) (return)

20. Although known in the 1930s and 1940s as a progressive writer, Smedley (1892-1950) became a victim of the Cold War and is mostly forgotten in the West today. However, like Ozaki and Sorge, she has received posthumous acclaim in the lands they most revered. Smedley’s ashes were buried in the Babaoshan Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetary in Beijing. Her life and work deserves to be better known. See Janice R. Mackinnon and Stephen R. MacKinnon, Agnes Smedley: The Life and Times of an American Radical. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988, and Ruth Price: The Lives of Agnes Smedley, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, the latter having more evidence concerning Smedley’s involvement in espionage and Sorge’s Shanghai Ring in particular. For British Intelligence’s knowledge concerning the operation of Sorge and Smedley’s activities see also Peter Wright, Spy Catcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer. New York: Viking, 1987, 226, 227, 328, 338, especially 289, where the former Assistant Director of MI5 describes her as “a Comintern talent spotter” who may have recruited the future head of that organization as the “fifth man” in the Burgess-Maclean- Philby-Blunt British spy ring. For some interesting comparisons between Kim Philby, Ozaki, and Sorge see Chalmers Johnson, 247-49, and Whymant, 261. (return)

21. See F.W. Deakin and G.R. Storry, The Case of Richard Sorge. New York: Harper & Row, 1966; Johnson, 181; and Whymant, 288, who all suggest that Sorge’s more despairing reaction which may have been due to torture. (return)

22. According to Johnson, 214, different versions exist concerning Sorge’s final words none of them having any reference to the Comintern. For Sorge’s 1935 visit to Moscow when he learned of the arrest of his Comintern mentor Zinoviev and others see Whymant, 72-73. See also David E. Murphy, What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005, 84-90, for Sorge’s valuable espionage services to the Soviet Union and his eventual rejection by Stalin. (return)

23. Herbert P. Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000, 174. (return)

24. Bix, 176-177. See also Johnson, 114-121, for another critical assessment of Konoe and the Showa Research Group in which both he and Ozaki were involved with. Despite the fact that the group involved “limited resistance”, Johnson describes it as representing “the only serious effort to challenge the militarists before the creation of a police state in 1941.” (116) (return)

25. Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia.” On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis. The Pelican Freud Library. Vol. 11. London: Penguin Books, 1984, 259. (return)

26. Freud, 254. (return)

27. Catherine Russell, “`Overcoming Modernity’: Gender and the Pathos of History in Japanese Film Melodrama.” Camera Obscura 35 (1995): 135. (return)

28. Russell, 134. (return)

29. After Sorge’s death sentence, the Japanese suggested exchanging one of their officers in return but Stalin replied, “Richard Sorge? I do not know a person of that name.” See Murphy, 90. (return)

30. Dower, 195. Johnson defines Ozaki’s agreement to help Sorge as “the act of an educated person whose whole experience had convinced him of the need for political action.” (98) (return)

31. Dower, 194. (return)