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[OPINION] Will the real Sakamoto Ryoma please stand up!

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Very exciting read, one by a psychiatrist and commentator Masaaki Noda debunking the legend of Ryoma. Some excerpts below where he talked about Ryoma-Den. I believe he is not one of the % in the ratings' number. For full article, click here. Please, don't throw your TV at him!

Q: What do you think of the NHK drama "Ryoma-den"?

A: Why does the program make him so popular with beautiful women everywhere he goes, such as Tosa (present-day Kochi Prefecture), Edo (Tokyo), Kyo (Kyoto) and Nagasaki, I find myself asking. I guess they do it to attract viewers.

Anyway, the show makes it look like it is based on Ryoma's achievements, but, actually, it is full of fictitious accounts. It is unacceptable.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Ryoma befriended Thomas Glover (1838-1911), a Scottish merchant living in Nagasaki, and bought a large volume of weapons from him. But in the drama, Ryoma repeatedly says Western powers are trying to colonize Japan and that is why he must overthrow the shogunate. But that doesn't make sense.

I asked a history expert I know whether there are any documents that show Ryoma had a sense of crisis, fearing for the possible colonization of Japan. The answer was no. If so, it means he is lying in the drama. The creator of the show is having Ryoma tell lies. Does NHK intend to send a kind of political message to the viewers through the program?

Q: But it is a drama. Aren't viewers aware that this is a fiction?

A: TV broadcasters should not be allowed to do anything they like in the dramas just because the stories are fictional accounts. Developments that largely deviate from historical facts and proven affairs must not be tolerated. In particular, moving images are stored in people's memories and have the power to stir emotions. A reporter of a local newspaper in Kochi told me that people there are showing a cool reaction to the NHK drama on grounds that it jars with historical facts.

Q: You also come from Kochi. Is it all right for you to say bad things about Ryoma?

A: I have never met anyone in Tosa to speak ill of Ryoma. Personally, I, too, do not think badly of him. There is no need to. All I want to say is I've had enough of others using Ryoma to suit themselves.

He made some good points on Iwasaki Yataro. I am however not sure how overblown is Ryoma's contribution. I agree on the militarism of Ryoma but I never did quite see it the way this interviewee did. On the lying Ryoma, well some people do have foresight even if the danger is not imminent. Like Winston Churchill warning Britain of the danger of Nazi Germany when it was still early and no one listened to him, at all. Same goes for Charlie Chaplin making a movie that shows what actually did happened in history thanks again to Nazi Germany. So frankly the drama is presenting a point of view that Ryoma believes the danger is imminent, the possibility is high. No documents doesn't mean it wasn't the way it was. Quite an interesting interview.



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