Photo/IllutrationBan Zhongyi, director of “Taiyo ga Hoshii” (Give Me the Sun) (Takayuki Kakuno)

  • Photo/Illustraion

As she was being raped by Japanese soldiers in a dark room, the Chinese woman cried out, “Give me the sun.”

The words were used by Ban Zhongyi as the title of his documentary “Taiyo ga Hoshii” (Give Me the Sun) that depicts the lives of women victimized by sexual brutality during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which raged from 1937 to 1945 and marked Japan's full-scale invasion of China.

“Taiyo ga Hoshii,” in which five former Imperial Japanese Army soldiers appear, won four overseas awards, including one at the Amsterdam International Filmmaker Festival, this year.

“I want viewers to learn what happened then,” said Ban, 60. “Humanity is lost during war.”

Ban, who is from China's Liaoning Province, recounted in an interview how, as a 14-year-old, he met a Japanese woman who had been left behind in China in the war's aftermath and studied Japanese with her.

As he was enamored of Japanese films, Ban came to Japan to study when he was 29. He also provided financial support for Japanese women left behind in China.

In 1992, Ban attended a gathering where he heard accounts of a Chinese woman who said she had been subjected to sexual violence by Japanese soldiers.

During his repeated trips to China from Japan, Ban learned that there are women suffering physical and mental problems as a result of sexual abuse during wartime who were not provided with sufficient food, clothing or housing by the Chinese government.

Since then, Ban has solicited donations in Japan each year to help cover the women's living and medical costs. To date, 100 women in nine provinces have received donations.

Over a 20-year period of helping them, Ban filmed the victims to show the footage to donors.

As Ban, who currently lives in Hiroshima Prefecture, did not have sufficient funds to make the movie, he sought assistance from 800 supporters. His Japanese wife and child were also hugely supportive.

The Japanese woman Ban met in China ended up having no choice but to remain there, just like many victims of sexual violence in China during the war.

As Ban sees it, women throughout history have paid a heavy price during times of war.

“I hope to continue engaging in projects that shed light on touchy issues society wants to ignore or forget,” he said.