What was the war about, anyway? In the war crimes tribunal, just what or who was on trial?
Following months of hard work and preparation, the NNTT will present the Tokyo Trials Trilogy in the second half of Uyama Hitoshi's final season as artistic director.
For several years, the Tokyo Trials Trilogy has been something of a life's work for Inoue Hisashi; Part 1, Yume no Sakeme, was produced in 2001 as part of our series "The Age and Memory". This was followed by Yume no Namida and Yume no Kasabuta in 2003 and 2006. The three works explore the lives of ordinary people of the time, in a renewed attempt to get at the truths of the Tokyo trial and the war. The "Dream Series" was staged over a period of nearly five years starting in 2001. Now, in a project sure to attract much attention, the entire series will be staged in consecutive productions, over a period of three months starting in spring 2010.
The "music play" form, featuring live musicians, has become a trademark of Inoue's recent work. In fact, Yume no Sakeme was the first such play. This is a series that has spawned many memorable songs by Uno Seiichirō and Inoue Hisashi, while posing tough questions that all Japanese must inevitably consider. For the upcoming productions, some first-time performers will be joined by great well-known actors including Tsuji Kazunaga, Kiba Katsumi and Doi Yuko. The Tokyo trials will be presented in a way that is entertaining and humorous, with the power also to elicit sadness and anger.
The time is April to June 1946. The setting is the Shimbashi Law Office near Shimbashi Station in Tokyo, on the first floor of a building that survived the firebombing. Though he failed the bar exam seven times, the lawyer Ito Kikuji (played by Kadono Takuzo) married Akiko (Mita Kazuyo), a go-getter who is one of Japan's pioneer female attorneys. Kikuji's days are busy with work at the law firm that his late father founded. But his one failing, his weakness for women, has brought him and Akiko to the verge of divorce. Meanwhile, Akiko's daughter Eiko (Fujitani Miki) is dearly attached to her stepfather, but she worries about what will happen to her parents and to the people of Japan in the wake of the war.
The law office is the crossroads for events and people of all kinds. Tanaka Tadashi (Takahashi Katsumi), a discharged soldier now attending night school, comes to live and work at the office; he seems to have a secret crush on Eiko. Kataoka Ken (Fukumoto Shin'ichi), a Korean resident of Japan, also appears with a love letter for Eiko; he seems to be the son of the gang leader who controls the Shimbashi black market. And barging into the office are Nancy Okamoto (Kumagai Mami) and Cherry Fujiyama (Kimura Midoriko), singers at the officers' club at the nearby Daiichi Hotel, which has been taken over as quarters for the U.S. military. They are arguing over the copyrights for songs they sing and want the law firm to resolve the issue.
Then Akiko returns to the office with the news that they have been asked to defend Matsuoka Yosuke, who is being tried in the Tokyo war crimes trial as a Class A war criminal. Kikuji jumps at the opportunity to be an assistant lawyer for Matsuoka, not only for the obvious reasons but also as advertising for their firm and to restore his relationship with Akiko. While Kikuji has been receiving help in minor civil trials from the elderly lawyer Takegami Reikichi (Inuzuka Hiroshi), who was Kikuji's father's right-hand man, the Tokyo Trial raises more difficult issues, including the meaning of the trial itself and how the lawyers should be paid. Then Kikuji is called in by Captain Bill Ogasawara (Ishida Keisuke), a second-generation Japanese-American who is a U.S. Army lawyer for the occupation forces.