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‘Oppenheimer’ Hits Nuclear-Scarred Japan, 8 Months After U.S. Premiere

Watching “Oppenheimer,” the Oscar-winning biopic about the father of the atomic bomb that opened in Japan on Friday, Kako Okuno was stunned by a scene in which scientists celebrated the explosion over Hiroshima with thunderous foot stomping and the waving of American flags.

Seeing the jubilant faces “really shocked me,” said Ms. Okuno, 22, a nursery school teacher who grew up in Hiroshima and has worked as a peace and environmental activist.

Eight months after Christopher Nolan’s film became a box office hit in the United States, “Oppenheimer” is now confronting Japanese audiences with the flip-side American perspective on the most scarring events of Japan’s history.

The movie follows the breakthrough discoveries of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team before the United States struck Japan with the first salvo of the nuclear age. It won seven Academy Awards last month, including for best picture.

Ms. Okuno, who watched the film in Tokyo on Saturday, lamented that it did not reflect the experiences of the hundreds of thousands of atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

“It is scary to have this film go out in the world without the proper understanding of the effects of the nuclear bomb,” she said. As for the regret that Oppenheimer expresses in the second half of the film, “if he really thought he had created technology to destroy the world,” she said, “I wish he had done something more about it.”

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