Photo/IllutrationHirokazu Kore-eda gives autographs to journalists after a news conference in Cannes, France, on May 19. (Erina Ito)

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CANNES, France--For Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, the fifth time was the charm at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, as he pocketed the Palme d'Or for “Shoplifters” here on May 19.

Kore-eda, 55, admitted that he was so surprised at winning the festival's top prize that his legs were shaking.

“I’m really happy that I can be up here,” Kore-eda said after receiving the Palme d'Or on stage from actress Cate Blanchett, head of the jury.

“Whenever I take part in this film festival, I feel that I am encouraged to continue making movies,” he added.

It was the seventh time that Kore-eda has participated in the Cannes Film Festival since he took part in the competition category with “Distance” in 2001, and the fifth for the Palme d'Or. In 2013, he won the Jury Prize for “Like Father, Like Son.”

At a news conference after the awards ceremony, Kore-eda said receiving the Palme d'Or trophy carries an overwhelming weight for a film director.

“I renewed my determination to create films that are worthy of a winner of this prestigious prize,” he said.

Kore-eda also said, “I never said I was craving for the Palme d'Or although newspapers had often written it that way.”

Still, he said winning the prize has provided him with encouragement to keep directing for another 20 years or so.

“Shoplifters,” the 13th feature film for Kore-eda, depicts the struggles of a poor family who live in a rickety one-story house in Tokyo.

The family’s main income is the pension for their grandmother, played by Kirin Kiki. It is insufficient for them to live on. Her family members, including her son Osamu, a day laborer played by Lily Franky, and his wife, Nobuyo, played by Sakura Ando, rely on shoplifting to make ends meet.

Through the family members, who can be connected only through their criminal activities, the movie asks, “What is the connection of a family?”

“Shoplifters” became the fifth Japanese movie to win the Palme d'Or following Shohei Imamura’s 1997 work “The Eel.”

Among the world’s three largest film festivals--Cannes, Venice and Berlin, a Japanese movie has not won the highest prize since 2002 when Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

“Shoplifters” is scheduled to be released in Japan on June 8.

(Erina Ito contributed to this article.)