In this post, I’d like to supplement the information relating to my last two posts.
In the 1980s, Japan became affluent enough for ordinary people to travel overseas. At the time, apart from foreign airlines, only Japan Airlines (JAL) covered international routes. I suppose that many people, especially those who went abroad for the first time, somehow felt relieved when seeing JAL’s “red crane" logo at the airport in other countries. Many Japanese believed that JAL was the most reliable and safest. Until about 15years ago, many educated women aspired to work for JAL as flight attendants. Partly because of this fierce competition, JAL’s flight attendants were beautiful.
In the evening in August 1985, JAL betrayed the public’s trust. A JAL’s airplane crashed into Osutaka Mountain on the way from Tokyo to Osaka. This evening flight between major two cities was very popular for businessmen/women. A president and board members of major companies died. 坂本九/Kyu Sakamoto, who was well known for the singer of Sukiyaki songs in Western countries, lost his life. Additionally, it was during summer school holidays. The flight was full and many children were on board. Although only four people miraculously survived, the death toll rose to over 500. Some passengers wrote letters to their families on the plane snaking between mountains when realizing that they were going to die.These remains moved people to tears.
Both JAL and the government announced the findings of their investigations on the crash, but there were so many inconsistencies in their reports. Their explanations never satisfied people, especially the families of the victims. About ten years after the crash occurred, the novel” 沈まぬ太陽/shizumanu-taiyou” written by a famous author 山崎豊子/Toyoko Yamasaki was published. This novel drew public attention back to the crash. Right after its publication, the novel became controversial. JAL insisted that the novel would lead to misunderstandings. Although some TV and film companies announced that they would attempt to adapt the novel for the screen, they weren’t able to make it happen. It's been said that they were forced to give up producing it because of great pressure and harassment by JAL and the big names involved.
With the times changing, today, the movie “沈まぬ太陽/shizumanu-taiyou” was finally released. It’s been about ten years since the novel was published. In my opinion, if JAL had seriously examined their problems at that time, it wouldn't be standing on the edge of precipice now.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
A remarkable movie “沈まぬ太陽/shizumanu-taiyou” is going to be released today, on the 24th of October. The movie is based on a best selling novel written by 山崎豊子/Toyoko Yamasaki. She used to be a journalist/writer at a major newspaper. Since she became an author, she has been known for writing her novels based on her years of investigations on some questionable incidents. These investigations include a lot of interviews conducted by her with some of the people involved. Although her novels are categorized as fictions, everyone knows that her stories contain some facts and truths that were never revealed to the public. On top of that, politicians and major corporations often appear in her novels. Although their real names aren’t used, their assumed names are so similar to their real ones that you can easily guess and identify who or what they are.
I read her long novel “沈まぬ太陽/shizumanu-taiyou” right after it was published many years ago. This novel is well known as the semi-fictional tale of the terrible JAL(Japan Airlines) crash in 1985. However, as far as I remember, rather than focusing on this crash itself, the story focuses on bringing out deep problems hidden within JAL. Moreover, through laying bare the reality of the big corporation, the story makes you think about human essence. (If you want to know more about JAL, please see click here).
The main character of the novel is an employee of 国民航空 (This is an assumed name that indicates JAL). He was transferred to various countries in Africa and the Middle East. Through his over ten-year working in these countries, he came to realize how ruthless, absurd and greed his company（国民航空） was and began to question his company. When his company had a devastating plane crash, he was assigned to handle and support the crash-bereaved families. Through this assignment, he noticed that his company always gave priority to their profits and they ignored the safety of their flights. He thought that this crash was an accident waiting to happen. On top of that, he became aware of corruption, cozy relationships among politicians, bureaucrats and businesses. Although he received constant harassment from his company, he kept on fighting his company.
Since JAL is currently being required to restructure in order to receive a taxpayer-financed bailout, I’m wondering what JAL will think about this movie. On top of that, there is a phrase in this novel that has stuck in my head. The main character loves animals. One day, he went to a zoo. When he reached the exit of the zoo, there was a big mirror on a wall. The phrase “No animal in the zoo is more awful than the one in the mirror, mankind is the most awful animal on earth” was beside the mirror.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Speaking of which, JAL (it was a government-run corporation until 1987) has been struggling with its poor performance for a long time. Recently, JAL announced that it was going to start negotiating with Delta Air lines to form a capital alliance. Since it seems unlikely that JAL could successfully turn around its business without government aid, it's projected that it will receive taxpayer-financed bailouts.
During this time when JAL has been receiving public attention, a remarkable movie is going to be released in a week. The title of the movie is 沈まぬ太陽. The film is based on a novel written by 山崎豊子/Toyoko Yamasaki. Since the novel is the semi fictional tale about the terrible JAL crash in 1985, every time a film company attempted to adapt the novel for the big screen in the past, they gave into strong objections made by JAL.