Connect with us


EDITORIAL | Cannes Double Win a Reminder to the World of Japan's Filmmaking Caliber

The global recognition of Koji Yakusho and Yuji Sakamoto at Cannes is an uplifting message to aspiring individuals across Japan, transcending the film industry.



Koji Yakusho (L) was honored with the Best Actor award for his performance in Perfect Days (2023), a captivating film set in Tokyo, directed by Wim Wenders. (© MASTER MIND Ltd)

The 2023 Cannes Film Festival witnessed a momentous achievement for Japanese cinema, as two films received prestigious awards: one for Best Actor, and the other for Best Screenplay. This simultaneous victory in two major categories highlights the exceptional quality of Japanese filmmaking. It also provides a significant boost to the industry's prominence.

Koji Yakusho was honored with the Best Actor award for his performance in Perfect Days (2023). It is a captivating film set in Tokyo, directed by Wim Wenders. Yakusho's recognition brings to mind the previous victory of Yuya Yagira, who, at the young age of 14, won the same award for his role in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Nobody Knows in 2004.

'Magnetically Charismatic'

Yakusho's reputation extends beyond Japan's borders. His notable portrayal in Shohei Imamura's The Eel secured the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1997. In Perfect Days, Yakusho masterfully depicts an enigmatic and taciturn toilet cleaner. He manages to captivate audiences despite being given a challenging role with minimal dialogue. Even the notoriously critical French press lauded his performance as "magnetically charismatic."

In the Best Screenplay category, Yuji Sakamoto received the award for his exceptional work on Monster, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. This triumph marks Japan's second win in the category since Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe won the award for Drive My Car in 2021.

Sakamoto is a renowned screenwriter who has played a prominent role in Japan's television industry, particularly in creating what is known as "trendy dramas" in Japan. These shows, produced around the time of Japan's economic bubble, offer a glimpse into urban life, pop culture, and romance. Notably, Sakamoto wrote the script for the widely popular Tokyo Love Story (1991). In recent years, he has also ventured into films addressing social issues, winning the Hashida Award for his script for Mother (2010).

Hirokazu Kore-eda(C), Koji Yakusho (R)

Global Recognition of Japanese Talent

The recognition bestowed upon Yakusho and Sakamoto reflects the international acknowledgment of Japan's filmmaking caliber. It is uplifting to witness the influence of these esteemed maestros on the global stage. 

German filmmaker Wim Wenders is a Japanophile and a great admirer of Yasujiro Ozu. He received the 33rd Praemium Imperiale in the Theatre/Film category in 2022. In his latest work, Wenders masterfully portrays the simple joys and humble existence of an ordinary man in a quiet corner of Japanese society.

Wim Wenders (L), Koji Yakusho (R)

French media observed the influences of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950) in Sakamoto's screenplay for Monster. The film skillfully explores the varying interpretations of an incident at a school through the eyes of a mother, a teacher, and a child.

Yakusho and Sakamoto, who established their acting and screenwriting careers in Japan, have now demonstrated their exceptional talent on the global stage. While the international spotlight has recently focused on Japanese athletes, these achievements underscore the significant role of filmmaking in uplifting Japanese society.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


Our Partners