Atsuko Tanaka (born on April 19, 1942) is a script supervisor (a.k.a. scripter) who worked on several of the most successful tokusatsu TV programs of the 1960s. Beginning with Ultra Q (1966) at Tsuburaya Productions, Ms. Tanaka would go on to work in the same capacity on Ultraman (1966-67), Ultra Seven (1967-68), Kaiju Booska (1966-67), and The Space Giants (1966-67). This March 2020 interview with Brett Homenick, translated by Taichiro Kubota, covers Ms. Tanaka’s tokusatsu career, as well as her current pursuits.
(Special note: Below the English translation, Ms. Tanaka‘s interview has been published in Japanese.)
Brett Homenick: Please tell us about your early life. When and where were were you born?
Atsuko Tanaka: I was born in Shiba Tamura-cho (now Nishi-Shimbashi), Tokyo, in April 1942. Immediately after World War II, Tokyo had been bombed and burned to the ground. My father returned to Tokyo from the evacuation site after the war and built a new house in the fall [of 1945]. However, because it was close to the GHQ (General Headquarters) building, there were restrictions on the construction, and my father was told by GHQ that he needed to install a sewer system to build his house.
BH: Where was your father?
AT:My father was not drafted by the military. My father’s family business was a pharmaceutical company called Meirin Pharmaceuticals, so he was drafted into a pharmaceutical research lab in Tokyo.
BH: What were the difficulties of growing up in postwar Japan?
AT: I was about three years old when the war ended. I don’t remember any severe hardships because I was very young. But I think my parents must have had a hard time.
My childhood memories are of walking down Hibiya-dori Avenue on New Year’s Day when I was about four years old, when I was allowed to wear a furisode [a kimono with long sleeves] on New Year’s Day.
A female GHQ officer in a jeep stopped suddenly beside me. She got out of the jeep and unfolded the bottom of my kimono and put a lot of candy on it. So I put all the candy on my sleeve and brought it home in my arms. I was so shocked that I remember running home through the burned-out city. She may have thought, “It’s a kid from a defeated country wearing a national costume!”
BH: Where did you go to school?
AT: My parents got divorced when I was in elementary school. My father and I moved to my grandparents’ house in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. I went to the local Shimokitazawa public elementary school, public middle school, and a metropolitan high school. After that, I went to Joshibi University of Art and Design. I got good grades in art and loved painting because at the time I wanted to be a painter.
BH: Did you have any hobbies as a child?
AT: My father was a movie buff, so he often took me to the movies. I was too young to read the subtitles, but I gradually fell in love with the movies. The first movie I saw was Tarzan in the fall of the year after the war, which I saw at the Hibiya Cinema Theatre. I was three years old when I walked into the darkened cinema. I saw a lion on screen, charging toward me, and I started crying out loud in fear. We left the cinema after only three minutes. That is what my father told me over and over again.
BH: How did you become involved with Tsuburaya Productions?
AT: When I was a student at Joshibi University of Art and Design, I had friends who were male students at Nihon University College of Art and Design, and some of them became assistant directors at TV stations and production companies. I was aware that my artistic talents were not strong enough to become an illustrator or painter. I’d loved movies since I was young, and I began to think that I wanted to work in the world of film.
By the time I graduated, however, the film industry had begun to decline, and television was beginning to rise to prominence. It was a time when many TV stations were making serial drama programs, both in the morning and in the afternoon. At the time, there were very few jobs available for women in the film and television industry. I was not sure what to do. One of the things I learned was that there was a job called a scripter [script supervisor] that allowed me to participate in filming, so I became a scripter’s apprentice at a production company.
The production company was owned by a famous actor named So Yamamura, and it was called Ginza Productions (commonly known as Gin Pro). I became an apprentice to a scripter named Noriko Shishikura. She was a scripter for Nikkatsu, but the film industry was in decline, and she started to think it was the age of television, so she quit Nikkatsu and began working freelance. I worked on a few TV programs at this production company as her apprentice, and then became an independent freelance scripter.
BH: Do you have any personal memories of Mr. Yamamura?
AT: I’ve never met Mr. Yamamura. Mr. Yamamura was a famous actor and was busy, so he never came to the office. He was also the director of a very fine film. It’s called The Cannery Boat (1953).
BH: How did you become a scripter on Ultra Q?
AT: I got a sudden phone call from Mashio Shimizu, who was in charge of production at Tsuburaya Productions. Eiji Tsuburaya, a special effects artist, decided to start a TV production company and was looking for a scripter. I was told this story.
Before joining Tsuburaya Productions, Mashio Shimizu was a film producer at Shochiku Kyoto. He was the man who took the world by storm with his films, including movies with Achako, Entatsu, Chocho Miyako, and other comedians from the Kansai region. He was also the producer of the Princess Koto’s Seven Disguises (1960-62) series for Osaka Yomiuri Television. The connection between Mr. Shimizu and Tsuburaya Productions was that Mr. Tsuburaya worked at Shochiku’s Kyoto studio when Mr. Tsuburaya was young, so the two were acquainted, and I believe that Mr. Tsuburaya invited Mr. Shimizu to join him. The only person who knows how this happened was Ken Kumagai (who later became a producer at Tsuburaya), who worked under Mr. Shimizu. But he passed away two years ago, so nobody knows the real story now.
Normally, the producers of a show were responsible for everything from the production budget to casting. So the producers were in charge. However, Tsuburaya Productions, which was established by Eiji Tsuburaya as an independent company from Toho, was still closely connected with Toho. For example, for Ultra Q, the main drama and special effects staff members came from Toho. The actors in the show were also Toho actors. Likewise, many of the staff members in the office came from Toho. Therefore, Mr. Shimizu was surrounded by people from Toho, so he couldn’t do his job as a producer, and it was very difficult for him to do it. On top of that, he was posted alone [in Tokyo] from Kyoto.
At one point, when we came back to the Tsuburaya Productions office from a shooting location, the people at the office were panicking because Mr. Shimizu had been found dead in his apartment two or three days prior. He was discovered by visiting office personnel because nobody knew where he was. He died on November 19, 1968, of a cerebral hemorrhage. I think that Mr. Shimizu was lonely. He was the one who invited me to join Tsuburaya Productions, but at that time, I couldn’t think of Mr. Shimizu’s situation or his feelings. Now I feel sorry about it.
BH: Do you have any personal memories of Eiji Tsuburaya?
AT: It’s been written and talked about that Eiji Tsuburaya often visited the Bijutsu Center (a.k.a. Toho Built) where they did the special effects, but as far as I know, he only visited there a few times a year. When Mr. Tsuburaya came to Toho Built, the tokusatsu staff was nervous.
BH: Were you the scripter for both the drama and SFX side?
AT: For Ultra Q, I signed up as a scripter for the drama side. The special effects team for Ultra Q started out without a scripter. Perhaps the chief assistant director carried out those responsibilities. I think the scripter was first assigned to the special effects team for [episode 5] “Peguila Is Here!” The person who appeared in Toho Built’s staff room as the tokusatsu scripter was from Ginza Productions. It was Noriko Shishikura, whom I followed as an apprentice! I was overjoyed by the unexpected reunion.
Ultra Q began broadcasting after all 28 episodes had been completed. Ultraman (1966-67) and Ultra Seven (1967-68) began airing while only a few episodes had been completed. As a result, both the main crew and the special effects team each became two separate teams [a total of four teams] shortly after filming began. I was assigned to the special effects team and sometimes to the drama team.
BH: Please describe basically what you had to do as a scripter.
AT: When the word “record” is written in the staff roles of movies and TV programs, it’s done by a a scripter. A scripter is a person who takes notes, and a scripter is a person who takes pictures. With a stopwatch hanging around her neck, she holds a binder with a daily editor log in between and records one take at a time, standing next to the camera. On the daily editor log, I wrote down whether the beginning and end of the take overlap with the next take, or are connected by a cut or wipe, and then I recorded the action of the beginning and end of the take, the lines of dialogue, and the number of takes it took before getting the print take.
I wrote down the number of seconds for each take, for example, 18 seconds for the first take, 25 seconds for the second, 20 seconds for the third, 20 seconds for the keep [the hold or back-up take], 25 seconds for the fourth, and so on. When the editor is editing, he or she looks at the daily editor log to find the print take on the positive film, and then edits the footage. The same set may be shot several days later, and everything on the set must be the same as it was on the previous shoot. Everything from the costumes to the hairstyles to the gear was the scripter’s job. It was a lot of work in an era when there were no Polaroid cameras.
One important task is to tally up the daily print takes and communicate them to the director. I wanted to get as close as possible to the length of a half-hour or hour-long program, but some directors would shoot until they were completely satisfied with their work, so it was a lot of work during the editing process. Sometimes the print take wasn’t the scripted line, so it was important to make notes so that I wouldn’t get in trouble during dubbing.
BH: What kind of continuity problems did you catch? Could you give us some examples?
AT: In Ultra Q, Mr. [Kenji] Sahara and Mr. [Yasuhiko] Saijo were flying from Chofu Airfield in a Cessna and helicopter. We took off, but at one point the special effects team called me and asked, “What color is the Cessna plane?” I was asked about it. I had already photographed the interior of the cockpit, but I didn’t care about the color outside the window frame. It was the first time I was made aware of the fact that this job is part of the special effects business.
BH: I understand that Hiroko Sakurai was late to shooting on the first day of Ultra Q. What do you remember about this?
AT: The director and his co-stars [Mr. Sahara and Mr. Saijo] seem to remember it well, but I don’t. I don’t remember. It was the first day of shooting, and I think I was busy taking notes of [director Koji] Kajita’s shooting plans. It was a time when we didn’t have cell phones, and I think Ms. Sakurai was in a hurry because she couldn’t look up a map or make a phone call.
BH: “The 1/8 Project” [episode 17 of Ultra Q] was quite interesting. Do you have any memories from this shoot?
AT: I remember Mr. Sahara seriously saying to Mr. Saijo, “This is very well done,” as he stepped over the buildings in the miniature town set. Also, Ms. Sakurai was using the huge telephone handset to make a call, and after filming was over, I took a commemorative photo next to the huge handset.
BH: Please talk about working on “Challenge from the Year 2020” [episode 19 of Ultra Q]. With so many side stories, was it difficult to ensure continuity?
AT: The script for this episode was so great that I don’t think I had to worry about the continuity.
BH: Do you have any memories of Kenji Sahara from the set?
AT: Mr. Sahara was a bright and smart actor who looked like a star at Toho. As I recall, his father was an executive at a major confectionery company. On the way back from filming in Tokyo, we all went to his parents’ house in Kakinokizaka to have tea and talk to them. We had some sweets there. It was a beautiful house with a large garden. Mr. Sahara was single at the time, so he may have lived in this beautiful house with his parents.
BH: Do you have any memories of last-minute script changes on any of the series?
AT:I don’t remember that. I remember that all the scriptwriters at Tsuburaya Productions, starting with Mr. [Tetsuo] Kinjo, worked very diligently on the scripts. The director was involved in the episodes before the final draft was locked, so I don’t the script was changed on site.
There were several times during the dubbing process for director [Samaji] Nonagase, when the narrator, Koji Ishizaka, then known [by his real name] Heikichi Muto, noticed that the narration was worded incorrectly, and Mr. Ishizaka rewrote the script on the spot. I heard that the scriptwriter, Shinichi Ichikawa, submitted a script at the time, but it was rejected. In addition, [scriptwriter] Mieko Osanai, who later became famous for [the long-running TV drama] Kinpachi-sensei, also did that [submitted a script that was ultimately rejected].
BH: How did you get hired to work on Ultraman?
AT: I was asked by the company to stay on.
BH: How was Ultraman different from Ultra Q?
AT: Ultra Q didn’t start out as a monster show aimed at children, but rather as a science fiction drama told in one complete [self-contained] episode. Each episode had a different theme, but I think it conveyed a message to the society of the time through the world of science fiction.
Ultraman, who came from outer space to fight for justice against monsters that were invading Earth, is a show for children [elementary school students]. I think it was created with the idea that Ultraman is the hero of the people.
BH: What do you remember about director Akio Jissoji?
AT:Now that I think about it, when I first started working with Mr. Jissoji as a scripter, he was only in his late 20s. He was an unconventional director who shot what he wanted to shoot. He had a unique sense of beauty, and I think it shows in his images.
I was a scripter for Ultra Q, Ultraman, Ultra Seven, and Kaiju Booska at Tsuburaya Productions. Then I quit Tsuburaya Productions and quit being a scripter. After that, I became a freelancer and continued to work in planning, scriptwriting, and production. I continued to have a relationship with directors [Toshihiro] Iijima and Jissoji after that.
When Mr. Iijima was the president of a TBS drama production company, I approached him for advice on my program plan. I hired the director Jissoji’s production company [Kodai] to help me produce my show, too.
Director Jissoji has made some great movies and commercials, but he also has a deep knowledge of music. Until his retirement, he directed operas at Tokyo University of the Arts.
BH: On Ultraman, what was the most interesting location?
AT: Most of the Ultraman scenes were filmed on the Science Patrol set, so there wasn’t anything interesting to see. The most impressive locations in the Ultra-series were for Ultra Q, which was more interesting.
The most impressive locations were the sea and alleyway in Shimoda in [episode 12] “I Saw a Bird,” Kenzaki in [episode 23] “Fury of the South Sea,” and the mountains of Itsukaichi in [episode 22] “Metamorphosis.”
When we were filming in the mountains of Itsukaichi, it was in the middle of the Tokyo Olympics. Mr. Sahara or Mr. Saijo brought a portable radio with him, but the signal was poor in the mountains. It’s a nostalgic memory that everyone was disappointed because the reception was so bad that we couldn’t hear it.
In terms of memories of Ultra Q, there is one event that I will never forget. It was [Kazuho] Mitsuta’s directorial debut, as well as screenwriter Shozo Uehara’s debut work, “Space Directive M774” [episode 21]. It happened during the shooting of this episode. We rented a large ship for a day to film off the coast of Izu Shimoda.While filming the three regular actors of Ultra Q and the actor who played the captain of the ship, the light [fixture] that was to my right suddenly exploded. I felt a shock as if I had been hit on my right cheek, but that was all I could think about.
However, everyone, including Hiroko Sakurai, was pointing at me and shouting, “Ahh!” I didn’t know what was going on, and as they scurried around, everyone’s voice got louder and louder, and I realized that something had happened to me.
Blood was gushing out from under my chin. I lifted my palm and held it close to the wound, probed the gushing wound, and closed it with my fingers.
I kept the wound under control for the rest of the day, so the assistant director took over the scripter’s job. Charter rates for large ships are expensive, and we had to shoot some night scenes that day, so we couldn’t back to the harbor right away. After returning to the port of Shimoda late at night after filming, Ken Kumagai, who was also working on the episode, took me to a surgeon in town and told me that I was going to have to go back to the city.
The town of Shimoda in those days was very different from today. It was a rough town with many fishing boats and sailors. The surgeons treated me roughly — sticking their fingers inside my mouth, touching the inside of the wound, and putting gauze on the outside. They plunged the gauze-wrapped tweezers into the wound, scratching it from the inside and outside, and said, “It’s OK. There is no debris.” Then they disinfected the wound, put a bandage on it, and that was it.
Ken Kumagai, who watched my getting treatment, with half of my face swollen up, asked this girl (I was 23 years old!): “Who will take responsibility for injuring you — director Mitsuta, the lighting man Mr. Kobayashi, or me?” He told me later that he had seriously puzzled over it. I don’t have any scars from this incident anymore. I fondly remember the days when everyone was so generous.
BH: What was the biggest challenge about working on Ultraman?
AT: The permanent set of the Science Patrol was in a corner of Toho Built. There was a special effects stage on the same site, but there was no heating or air-conditioning back then. There were no down clothes like we have today. We worked on a steamy set in the summer and in the freezing cold in the winter. At the time, we took it for granted, but it would be an unthinkable situation for people today. But it’s nothing compared to the hardships faced by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya in the role of Ultraman.
When I walked in and out of the set of the special effects team, I would look across the open special effects stage, and I often saw Mr. Furuya taking off the upper half of his Ultraman costume and smoking a cigarette while leaning against a large, red-painted drum.
At that time, I didn’t know how tough it was to move around in the Ultraman costume, but when I read The Man Who Became Ultraman that Mr. Furuya wrote recently, I realized what he was going through at that time.
BH: Could you share any memories of Susumu Kurobe?
AT: I got the impression that he was a friendly, calm person. But it was not a particularly special feeling.
BH: There were many foreigners who appeared in small roles in Ultraman. Do you remember anything about them?
AT: The casting arrangements were the chief assistant director’s job, and the scripters were not involved. For foreigners with lines, I think we had to be careful on the shooting sites for re-recording. That’s because Ultra Q, [Ultra]man, [Ultra] Seven, and Booska were re-recorded. If the lines were different from the lines in the script, I had to tell the actors what the lines were. It’s a big deal when it comes to dubbing.
BH: How was Ultra Seven different from Ultraman?
AT: There is no difference between Ultraman and Ultra Seven on the drama side, but for the special effects team, it was very different. For Ultraman, we needed a new method of filming, and while performing trial and error, I think we did some experimental shooting to improve the quality. I think Ultra Seven was created by imitating the technique used in filming [Ultraman].
BH: Do you have any general memories of Koji Moritsugu?
AT: He looked like a young, handsome, hard-working actor. I remember him running up the stairs of Seijogakuen-mae Station, with a long, pure white scarf fluttering that she [his girlfriend] had knitted for him, and he looked so innocent.
BH: What other Ultra Seven stories could you share with us?
AT: For Ultraman and Ultra Seven, we were constantly pressed for time. For Ultraman, I worked mostly on the main story (the drama team), but for Ultra Seven, we had two separate teams. I had been working more and more on special effects. At least once a week, [Ultra] Seven and the monsters were always fighting. There was a lot of gunpowder, and we had to film under dangerous conditions. There were a lot of cameras there. A camera that filmed Seven, a camera that filmed the monster, a camera that filmed, a camera that filmed two long shots, a camera that filmed the city being destroyed, explosions, burning flames, etc. There must have been at least five cameras in the room.
We would gather in the morning to repeat the tests, but each time we would shoot at night. That’s because we could only do the actual take once. Seven and the monster would go on a rampage, and the set would be wrecked, and if there’s an explosion, the set would burn.
You can’t just say cut and do it again. So you have to repeat the procedure over and over again to test it, and eventually you have to wait until after dark to start, and then you have to do it again. The scripter didn’t have to be on the set for the shoot. That’s because Ken Kumagai, the producer, told us not to go in there because it was too dangerous. I think all the scripters stayed out.
After a while, the sound of explosions was heard, and the sound of the special effects stage was heard one after another. Fire erupted through the cracks in the roof tiles of the special effects studio. “What’s happening to the people inside?” Every time, I was on the edge of my seat. I waited for it to end. Soon, the stage door opened, and out of the all the smoke, Bin [Furuya], the suit actors playing the monsters, and the staff came out. I’m not sure why the camera crew was so elated right after this shoot. Immediately after the shoot, for some reason, the film crew seemed to have a sense of euphoria left in them. I’m amazed that no one was injured during such dangerous shoots. Nowadays, we have to take out insurance for the suit actors and staff.
BH: Over time, did your work as a scripter change at all, or was it usually the same?
AT: My time as a scripter was short, from [the age of] 22 to 26, but I worked at Tsuburaya Productions, and this was a valuable experience for me. TV shows at that time were filmed on 16mm, but Ultra Q was filmed on a 35mm Cameflex camera,with composite shots by Mitchell [a type of camera], and edited in 35mm by a Toho editor in Toho’s editing room. I worked with the editors at Toho. Starting with Ultraman, the series was shot in 16mm, and the editing was moved to Tsuburaya Productions’ in-house editing room.
BH: On all the Ultra-series you worked on, who do you think was the best director?
AT: Each director had his own view of the world and was full of individuality. I think director Hajime Tsuburaya was in his mid-thirties, and the other directors were in their early thirties. I’m proud of being part of this wonderful group of young directors, and I have fond memories of working with them.
BH: Which Ultra-series do you think was the best?
AT: Each of the Ultra-series had such high ratings that they became a social phenomenon, but my favorite was Ultra Q.
When Ultra Q started, Tsuburaya Productions was located in Toho Studios. We walked down Setagaya-dori Avenue from Soshigaya[-Okura] Station, and the first staff room in the studio was in the Toho building in front of the main entrance, which was to the left. Also, the movie industry was in a slump, but when we went to the dining room, which was called the salon, there was a table that was particularly lively, and it was the table for the “Young Guy” series.
If you go down the main street with a series of large stages, you’ll find a pool used for special effects. In front of that, there was an open set that reminded me of a corner of Ginza. I think they must have filmed a scene in a Toho movie where Yosuke Natsuki riding in a convertible car. In the past, major studios like Shochiku and Nikkatsu had open sets.
For Ultra Q, everything was shot at Toho, including the 35mm film, music recording, editing, and recording studio. Also, at the start of Ultra Q, directors such as Mr. Kajita and Mr. Nonagase came from Toho. The pace of filming in Ultra Q was just as slow [relaxed] as the show itself.
Another thing worth mentioning in Ultra Q is the art. The art direction by Toho’s Kiyoshi Shimizu, such as [episode 9] “Baron Spider” and [episode 5] “Peguila Is Here!,” is wonderful! I think it was an inspiration to the directors who came from TBS to get their start in Toho Studios and to work with the Toho staff in 35mm.
BH: How did you get hired to work on The Space Giants (1966-67)?
AT: I was approached by P Productions to help out before I got into Ultraman at Tsuburaya Productions. It seems that P Pro wanted a special effects people to come. When I went to P Pro’s office, Mr. [Junkichi] Oki, an assistant director at Tsuburaya Productions, was also there. We were both surprised to see each other. I was contracted to be part of the drama team at P Pro and that the contract would last until the start of Tsuburaya Productions’ [next series].
BH: The Space Giants usually had a four-episode story line. Was it any different ensuring continuity on such a format?
AT: I don’t remember it well because I worked for a short period of time and went back to Tsuburaya Productions before I could think about it.
BH: Do you have any memories of Masumi Okada?
AT: Every time I showed up for the re-recording, he showed up with a beautiful foreign woman in tow! The word “playboy” was very popular at the time, and it was exactly what he was.
One memory that surprised me was that we received more than 100 fan letters to the company every day for Toshio Egi of [the band] Four Leaves, who was in the sixth grade or the first year of junior high school at the time, who acted in the lead role.
BH: What can you tell us about the directors of The Space Giants?
AT: I don’t remember very well because it was such a short time.
BH: How was P Productions different from Tsuburaya Productions?
AT: The main difference is that Tsuburaya Productions started from nothing, and the special effects were all original. I think P Production was a copy of Tsuburaya Productions.
BH: What do you remember about working on Kaiju Booska (1966-67)?
AT: I had a lot of fun filming Kaiju Booska with the child actors, veterans like Edoya Nekohachi and Kazue Takahashi, who did the voice of Booska. The scripts were written by Shinichi Ichikawa, who portrayed the gentle and joyful relationship between the kids and Booska.
There is one incident in particular that I recall from Booska that happened during filming on the set. During filming, a piece of paraffin paper [wax paper], which was attached to a light near Booska, caught fire from the heat of the light and fell onto Booska. Booska’s stuffed-animal costume was made of a special chemical fiber, and the flames spread like a ripple instead of a flame.
Booska’s suit actor, Haruyoshi Nakamura, screamed, “Help me!” in his stuffed-animal suit! The staff rushed to open the zipper and rescue him, but there was a complex mechanism inside that took some time [to get around]. I gathered the frightened children and walked off the set. It was a very scary memory. Mr. Nakamura was taken to the hospital by ambulance and stayed there for quite a long time. While he was in the hospital, Booska’s younger brother, Chamegon, took over the series.
BH: Why did you stop being a scripter at Tsuburaya Productions?
AT: There were a couple of reasons. First, there were other things that I wanted to do other than being a scripter. I wanted to do something that reflected my aspirations, like planning and structuring a show (as a narration writer). I started to think about it.
Second, at the time, we didn’t think the Ultra-series was a job that would continue to be popular for more than 50 years, and the sight of Ultraman and Ultra Seven appearing and fighting the monsters was no longer appealing to us.
BH: Please tell us about your current work, especially related to Tohoku.
AT: A lot of television documentaries are planned and produced by outside production companies, including for NHK. The goal of the station is to make sure that the documentary will get high ratings. Even if the content is important, if it doesn’t attract a high viewership, it will be cut, and no additional budget will be given to recreate it.
In many cases, production costs are covered by the production company, and the production fee is paid the month after the show airs. When I saw the news footage of the [March 2011] tsunami, I felt that the truth could not be told on TV. I didn’t think that they could preserve the truth for future generations. If I received production funding from the government or private companies, there would be compromises, and I would not be able to tell the truth. In order to record the truth, I had no choice but to use my own funds to create the film, and I borrowed money from the bank, using my house as collateral.
Convinced that “reconstruction” means that the key industries in the affected areas [of the Great East Japan Earthquake] will be able to operate, employment will be protected, and the economy will recover, we selected five small and medium-size fish-processing companies. After three years of filming immediately after the disaster, we published a six-volume book entitled Record of the Struggles of Fish–Processing Business Owners in the Disaster Area in 2014.
Because repayment of management’s share of the subsidy program accepted by many small and medium-size businesses would begin in five years, we completed Seafood Processing Industries in the Affected Area: Five Years Since That Day in 2017, which follows the five companies since then. Even though it’s about the fish-processing industry, the Ota Ward Office in Tokyo realized that this documentary footage could be useful in disaster prevention for small and medium-sized town factories and placed the DVD in two libraries in the ward. A group of managers of small factories in the Keihin Industrial Area held free screenings.
Also in the Shimochi area of Kochi City, which is said to be right above the Nankai Trough region [which is predicted to be the site of a major earthquake in the future], small and medium-size business owners from different industries have gathered to hold screenings. In February of this year, we released a video titled Lessons Learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake on BCP Development as a useful visual text for our Business Continuity Plan.We began filming again in 2018 and plan to release Convergence, which will cover the period up to March 2021, the 10th anniversary of the disaster. The footage recorded up to now is in the collection of the National Diet Library. After NHK purchased the videos, they asked to use them, but we declined their request. The Reconstruction Agency’s Industrial Reconstruction Unit purchased the footage and is looking at it as a reference within the Reconstruction Agency. Further funding is needed for future filming and to finish production.