Documentary film on poison gas production during World War II produced by Hiroshima resident

by Nobutake Tanaka, Staff Writer

A documentary film which depicts the production of poison gas on Ohkunoshima Island during World War II, and victims of this work, has been created by Harumi Matsuda, 78, a member of an amateur group of filmmakers known as the “Hiroshima Eight Club.” Ohkunoshima Island is located in Hiroshima Prefecture. This is the third film produced by Mr. Matsuda, an attorney specializing in labor and social security issues, who has previously explored the atomic bombing in his films. He commented, “I hope my films will encourage people to think about the two negative legacies of Hiroshima.”

The film revolves around interviews with a 92-year-old man, a resident of Osaka who was a former worker at the poison gas factory, and an 85-year-old woman, a former mobilized student who now lives in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture. The interviews are combined with photographs from the time the poison gas factory was still operating and present-day images of the old factory ruins on the island. It also includes accounts of residents and a doctor who treated poison gas patients. One interviewee said, “A former worker at the plant whose skin was affected by poison gas was writhing and coughing up bloody phlegm.” The film, narrated by Mr. Matsuda, includes data on the number of poison gas victims. Entitled “Chizu kara kesareta shima” (“The Island that was Erased from the Map”), the film runs 19 minutes and 15 seconds and will be released on DVD.

Mr. Matsuda, a former newspaper reporter, said, “The year I spent gathering information has borne fruit, and I have collected some important accounts. Though I couldn’t show the damage done by the poison gas in China, poison gas and the atomic bomb are the same in that they are weapons of mass destruction. I hope young people who have no direct experience of the war will watch my film.”

Mr. Matsuda’s film, along with 12 other works, will be shown on November 6, from 1 p.m., at the Nishi Ward Cultural Center. The public screening is being organized by the filmmakers’ club. Admission is free.

(Originally published on October 9, 2014)