“I thought I had to depict people who are ill with what’s clearly called an incurable disease, but who are living as best they can,” Hayao Miyazaki said, referring to characters in the Tatara factory scene.
Anime director Hayao Miyazaki said Jan. 28 he depicted leprosy patients in “Mononoke Hime” (Princess Mononoke) based on his “shocking” visit to a sanitarium near his home in western Tokyo.
One scene in the 1997 hit film features people swathed in bandages. Although these characters are not clearly defined as Hansen’s disease patients, Miyazaki said, “I wanted to portray people who were living with what was said to be an incurable disease caused by bad karma.”
The 75-year-old director made the remarks during a speech at the International Symposium on Leprosy/ Hansen’s Disease History as Heritage of Humanity in Tokyo.
The three-day conference through Jan. 30 is discussing how to preserve the history of facilities for leprosy patients.
Miyazaki said he was shocked when he visited the National Hansen’s Disease Sanatorium Tama Zenshoen in Tokyo’s Higashi-Murayama located close to his home. He described it as “a place where deep suffering has accumulated.”
After the speech, the director attended a news conference where he expressed opposition to constitutional revision pushed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We cannot say ‘let’s abandon the pacifist Constitution’ while those who underwent hard times during war are still alive,” Miyazaki said. “Even if we should amend the Constitution, we should be the last country in the world to do it.”
Miyazaki also said Japan should move away from its dependence on nuclear power and come up with alternative energy sources.
“We should sustain ourselves without restarting nuclear power plants,” he said. “We should conceive a different plan without using nuclear plants and relying on oil.”