In Okuzaki’s view, the war was carried out in the Emperor’s name and, ultimately, the largest responsibility lies with him. “I hate irresponsible people” he explains, “and the most irresponsible person in Japan is Emperor Hirohito.” He also mentions that he doesn’t blame the individual soldiers, but the people who put them in situations where they committed atrocities. While he also demonstrates a strong belief in personal responsibility, Okuzaki is unflinching in these views. In seeking to get the soldiers he interviews to confess, he states that “the public has to know the truth to prevent wars,” demonstrating that his motivations are not only personal grudges against the military system of which he was also a part, but that he truly hopes to stop further atrocities from happening by preventing war.
The picture that emerges of the events of the past however, do not necessarily fit together in a cohesive narrative. Though the documentary makes it seem clear that each soldier was involved in some way, they are extremely reluctant to speak about their experiences. Besides the fact that they are accused of murdering their fellow soldiers and cannibalism, there is also the further unsettling information that these events happened days after the end of the war. This, then adds to the apprehensiveness that these soldiers have of speaking about their actions. Thus, the audience must work with what bits and pieces of information they are given through the soldiers’ testimonies and attempt to piece together some kind of narrative. Ultimately though, whatever the viewer is given can never be considered the whole picture, in that what we are given comes from individual memory.
Another point that adds to the complexity of The Emperor’s Naked Army is that of the role of the camera. While the documentary may start out as seemingly in control of the situation, and the camera allows for a sense of safety for the viewer from the events being filmed, this quickly takes a turn as Okuzaki tackles one of the soldiers he is interviewing and starts hitting him. While the camera leaves us with a bit of physical distance, the audience is left in a stupor that has only begun. Later, there are even times when the role of the camera is questioned, and the issue of abandoning the camera for direct involvement with the subject is raised.
In one case, this occurs when one of the soldiers is willing to confess, but only if the camera is shut off. Ultimately, Okuzaki refuses, the camera keeps rolling, and the man does not reveal the information.