VIETNAMNETM AUGUST 11, 2006
Bill Megalos, Masako Sakata and Tadashi Namba (from the left).
Bridge – Masako Sakata hopes that her story will support Vietnam Agent Orange victims in their legal action against American chemical companies.
“Three years ago my husband died of cancer. Before that he told me he was in Dong Thap province where the US military sprayed Agent Orange. I could not hold myself with sorrow and loneliness so I started to collect information on Agent Orange. I knew I needed to come to Vietnam,” said Masako, the producer of the film Agent Orange – a personal requiem.
In early 1970s, the Japanese girl Masako Sakata met and fell in love with her American husband, Greg David. At that time Greg had just left the US Army after three years fighting in Vietnam. Afterward Greg and Masako moved between the two Japanese cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. The reason was Greg did not want to go back to America was that he had buried his sad past.
Before their marriage, Greg told Masako that he was not capable of having children as he used to be in the area where the US military sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam. “That was the only sad thing Greg told me about Vietnam. Other things he told me about Vietnam were often about a country with beautiful nature and friendly people,” Masako recalled.
In Japan Greg was a professional photographer working for a company run by Masako that provided photographs to Japanese media. In 2003, Greg went to see a doctor after feeling unwell. Tests were conducted, determining that Greg had liver cancer. He died aged 54.
After the husband’s death, Masako kept thinking about what her husband told her, about the time he was in Dong Thap. Masako then decided to research Agent Orange, believing the cause of Greg’s cancer was his exposure to Agent Orange. In 2004 Masako came to Vietnam with her friend, American photographer Philip Jones Griffiths, who had taken many photos of Agent Orange victims over the last 30 years.
“In Vietnam I met with about 20 families whose family members are victims and about 100 other children. One question that I often ask is whether people are angry with Americans, and the answer is always no,” Masako said. It seemed to her that all these families preferred not to remember about the past, but would find their own way to live.
Inspired by Masako’s story, and photos taken by Greg, Bill Megalos, a professional film maker decided to make a film on the subject.
Masako returned to Vietnam many times to meet Vietnamese Agent Orange victims. She went to Hanoi, Dong Ha, Ben Tre, HCM City and many other places in Vietnam. She heard many different stories, but the problems they have are blamed on one thing: Agent Orange.
With Bill and Namba’s support, in May 2006, Agent Orange – a personal requiem was released.
“I was appeased by the completion of the film. The victims in the film made me understand that the pain I have is nothing in comparison to what these people suffer from Agent Orange,” Masako said.
She then offered the work back to Vietnam in the hope that it would be shown in the country, so that Vietnamese people could see and share the pain of Agent Orange victims.