ANPO: Art X War: A Film Tackles the U.S. Occupation of Japan

Teaching Activity with Film Review. By Moé Yonamine. From Rethinking Schools.
ANPO is a documentary about visual resistance to U.S. military bases in Japan by Japan’s foremost contemporary artists.

  • Themes: Art & Music, US Foreign Policy, World History/Global Studies | Reading Levels: High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

Linda Hoaglund’s documentary ANPO: Art X War (New Day Films, 89 min., 2010) highlights Japanese and Okinawan artists—and their powerful, provocative paintings, photos, anime, and films to show the ongoing resistance in Japan (including Okinawa) to the U.S. military presence since 1945. The film focuses on the remarkable Japanese protests of 1960, when masses of people unified against ANPO, the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty.

ANPO, which was passed secretly, allowed U.S. bases to be located in Japan in exchange for U.S. protection.The U.S. occupation continued until 1952 for most of Japan; in Okinawa it continued until 1972. Unfortunately, the end of the occupation has not meant the end of U.S. military presence. Today, there are approximately 90 U.S. military bases and 40,000 U.S. soldiers in Japan.

Hoaglund, a filmmaker raised in Japan by American missionary parents, has a unique perspective on this occupation, its many negative effects on the people of Japan and Okinawa, and the nonviolent resistance movement that has endured for half a century in opposition to it. She introduces us to painters, photographers, journalists, and theater directors—all of whom have fought for peace through their art.

This is an excerpt from the review by Moé Yonamine of the film ANPO: Art X War from the Spring 2012 issue of Rethinking Schools. To read the rest of the review . [Note you must be registered and logged in to this website to access PDFs.]
Ishii Shigeo. Decoy (1961). Oil on canvas. 130.8 X 162.2 cm. Nagoya Municipal Museum

Ishii Shigeo. Decoy (1961). Oil on canvas. 130.8 X 162.2 cm. Nagoya Municipal Museum

The trailer, teaching activities, and handouts for ANPO: Art X War are shared below.


“ANPO” Trailer from Linda Hoaglund on Vimeo.

Teaching Activities for Film

Here are some activities that teachers could use with high school students in conjunction with the film ANPO: Art X War.
Gallery Walk

Ikeda Tatsuo. American Soldier, Child, Barracks (1953). Oil and ink on paper. 24 X 31 cm. Itabashi Art Museum, Tokyo.

Before they view the film, post photos and artwork from the film in stations around the classroom. Have students talk together in small groups at the stations and answer the following questions: Where do you think this is? What is happening? What do you think the photographer/artist is trying to express? What clues in the photo/artwork lead you to that conclusion? [To prepare, click on any of the photos or paintings to see all of the images in a larger size in a slide show. Click (on PC, right click) each image for the slide show, “save as” to your computer, and then print each one.]


Nakamura Hiroshi in front of his painting, The Base (1957), in the National Museum of Modern Art.

Before they view the film, provide each student with background information on one of the six main photographers and artists. Have students read their roles, underline the key parts,  and  then, on  the  other  side  of the role sheet, write down three important pieces of information about their role. This will encourage them to speak freely in character. Ask students to walk around the classroom, meeting the five other individuals one-on-one to find out: Who is this character? Where are they from? What are they concerned or angry about?

Have students come back together as a class for a group discussion. Ask: What surprised you or struck you as important? What similarities did you notice in the characters you met? What differences emerged? Handout: Mixer roles and questions.

Visual Organizer

Have students take notes using a visual organizer while watching the film. Ask them to pay attention to the six main photographers and artists. What was each photographer/artist’s main point? How did they express their sentiments through their artwork? What questions do you have for that artist? What themes recur throughout the images in the film?

Interior Monologue

Hamaya Hiroshi. Days of Rage and Grief (1960). B & W photo, vintage print. 20.3 X 25.4 cm. Hamaya Hiroshi private archives.

After viewing the film, ask students to choose someone or something from the documentary and write from that voice. Some questions to consider: What did you see? What did you experience? How did it feel to you at that moment in time? What is your message today as you reflect on the past and present? What do you want people to know? Some possible points from which to write include: the man yelling at the Japanese riot police in the photo by Hamaya Hiroshi, the woman with the U.S. soldier or the cigarette in the soldier’s mouth in the painting by Ikeda Tatsuo, the farmers confronting the riot police or the fence around the farmland in the painting by Inoue Chozaburo, or a villager or the photographer in the photo “A Little Girl Killed by a U.S. Military Truck” by Ureshino Kyoko.

Talk Back

Nakamura Hiroshi. Sunagawa #5 (1955). Oil on plywood. 92.5 X 183.0 cm. Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Have the students look at a collection of quotes from the film. Ask them to pick three to five quotes that stand out and “talk back” to those quotes in their own voice. Ask: What is your response? What do you want to ask? What do you agree or disagree with? What part of the quote resonates with your own life? What does the quote remind you of? Handout: Quotes from film.

Textbook Critique

As a class, analyze your history textbook. What part of the history included in ANPO: Art X War can  you  find in the text? What is left out? How do you account for these omissions? Based on what you learned in ANPO: Art X War, if you were the author of this text, what additional information would you include? What might you change?

“A Little Girl Killed by a U.S. Military Truck,” from One Million Screams (1968). Photographer: Ureshino Kyoko.


Ask students to look at Ureshino’s “A Little Girl Killed by a U.S. Military Truck.” Hold a trial around the question “Who is responsible for the death of this child, Nariko Tsugayama?” Possible “defendant” groups for the trial: U.S. soldiers standing over Nariko; local Okinawan politicians observing the scene; people or groups who are not in the scene—for example, U.S. politicians observing the scene; people or groups who are not in the scene—for example, U.S. politicians and military leaders who stationed U.S. troops on Okinawa, the ideology of militarism, and the international public that has allowed the continuing occupation of Okinawa.

—Moé Yonamine is a teacher in Portland, Ore. She wrote The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII in the fall 2010 issue of Rethinking Schools.

Related Resource

dn_logoDemocracy Now! on Japan. Democracy Now! offers many in-depth stories on Japan including the January 16, 2014 broadcast, “Okinawa’s Revolt: Decades of Rape, Environmental Harm by U.S. Military Spur Residents to Rise Up.” Democracy Now! is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program that provides its audience with access to people and perspectives rarely heard in the U.S.corporate-sponsored media, including independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts.


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