General News

Japanese officials panicked over Tenko

By:
Jul 17, 2014 | 5:24am EDT

Japanese officials in London lobbied BBC bosses to censor harrowing World War II drama Tenko over fears it portrayed their native country in a bad light. The British/Australian TV hit caused a sensation when it was first broadcast in the 1980s with its brutal depiction of life in a Japanese-run female prison camp in Singapore. The drama featured scenes of women inmates being mistreated and abused by guards, and it has now emerged the show caused a furore at the Japanese embassy in London and staff tried to get BBC bosses to edit the programme. They were even joined in their campaign by a Member of Parliament, Sir Julian Ridsdale, and bosses from the British government's Foreign Office. Newly-released Foreign Office documents show Ridsdale met with the head of the BBC and demanded "certain cuts in the future to remove some of the more brutal scenes". Another Foreign Office memo from the early 1980s states the show creates a "danger that the association of past Japanese violence... would create a bad impression". There is no suggestion BBC bosses bowed to pressure and the show is believed to have been broadcast uncensored.

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