(dpa) - Japan's cultural minister on Tuesday said he regretted the decision by movie theatres to cancel screenings of the film Yasukuni due to the controversy concerning the war-related Tokyo shrine.
"It is too bad if pressure and harassment resulted in this kind of situation (the cessation of the film)," Minister Kisaburo Tokai said at a press conference.
Five theatres in Tokyo and the western Japanese city of Osaka decided not to show the joint Chinese-Japanese film as scheduled on April 12 when some Japanese political groups took issue with the film's content, Kyodo News Agency quoted sources as saying.
A preview of the movie directed by China's Li Ying was shown to lawmakers on March 12. Tokai said the preview may have triggered the pressure not to show the film.
Some members of Liberal Democratic Party granted state subsidies to the film after they viewed it to decide whether the work maintains a politically neutral position.
In the documentary several people express their varying opinions on both wars and the Yasukuni shrine. Central to the film is a blacksmith who forges Yasukuni swords.
The shrine was built in 1869 under Emperor Meiji and today it commemorates the 2.5 million Japanese who have died in wars since 1853.
The 123-minute film won a best-documentary award at the 32nd Hong Kong International Film Festival. It was also shown at international film festivals in South Korea, Germany and the United States.