Japan has been a nation long known for its pacifism. This all changed in 2015 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party proposed a bill that would change a key section of their constitution, which states that their Self Defence force was to be used for self-defence only, for the purposes of allowing the military to operate overseas. This would open the door for the country to dive into the murky waters of war. What the government did not count on was the anger that the proposed change would spark.
As we see in Takashi Nishihara’s extensive documentary About My Liberty, the most surprising and vocal opponents were the Japanese youth. Once known for their indifference towards politics, the film capture a generation of young people who took grassroots methods to revitalize modern student activism in the land. Focusing specifically on the SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy), Nishihara offers a glimpse into a youth movement far more organized than people initially gave them credit for being. Whether they are collecting advice from elders or making clothing to support the cause, these students found creative and fun ways to bring social conscious to the masses.
Clocking in at 165 minutes, About My Liberty takes a methodical approach to protesters’ struggle to get their voices heard. Nishihara’s pacing drives home the fact that these students are attempting to climb a mountain where change is not guaranteed once they have reached the peak. Though these students come from different economic backgrounds their desire for real change, and willingness to act, helps to make this an inspiring film. About My Liberty speaks to the fire for peace that burns within the youth of today, one that just needs the right kindling to turn that flame into action.
About My Liberty plays Hot Docs on:
Sunday, April 30, 6:30 PM, Innis Town Hall
Tuesday, May 2, 2:30 PM, Scotiabank