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January 2014

Research on TV Producers: Running through the “Vernal Days” of Television
[ Part III ] Yasuko Isono (Yamaguchi Broadcasting Co.,Ltd.)

Recording the “Pain” and “Dignity” of Individuals

Hiroaki Mizushima

Yasuko Isono of Yamaguchi Broadcasting Co.,Ltd. made a debut as a TV director in the late 1970s and kept producing quality TV documentaries that cast a spotlight on ordinary people in the street who were swayed and hurt by the state and war, which made her known as “the legend of documentary for commercial television.” Her works include: Aru Shunen: Hirakuka Saishin no Michi (Tenacity for a Retrial) that followed an exoneree who kept pleading his innocence, Kikoeruyo Kaasan no Koega – Genbaku no Ko, Yuriko (Mama, I Can Hear You: Yuriko, a Child of the Atomic Bomb) that documented a victim of A-bomb microcephaly and her family (Grand Prix of the 1979 National Arts Festival, Berlin Future Award), Shisha Tachi no Yuigon – Kaiten ni Chitta Gakutohei no Kiseki (Will of the Departed: Trace of Student Soldiers Who Died with “Kaiten”) featuring young soldiers who lost their lives in suicide torpedo attacks (Excellence Award of the 1984 National Arts Festival), Chichi no Kuni, Haha no Kuni—Aru Kankokujin Josei no Kikoku (Father’s Country, Mother’s Country: Homecoming of a Korean Woman) that delved into severe working conditions of people brought in to Japan from the Korean Peninsula against their will (Outstanding Performance Award of the 1986 National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan Award), and Sokoku eno Harukana Tabi—Aru Chugoku Zanryu Fujin no Kikoku (The Long Journey Home—Japanese Women Left Behind in China) featuring homecoming of Japanese women who moved to Manchuria as members of a pioneer group but was not able to return to Japan after WWII and had to choose to face hardships (Art Work Prize of 1987 National Arts Festival). “Her works documented the unvoiced “pain” and “dignity” of those who lived with the burden of history on the back of Japan’s rapid growth after the war,” says Hiroaki Mizushima (Professor, Hosei University). The author delves into the essence of Isono’s documentary-making by reviewing her works and the latest interview with her.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research


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