A politician tipped as a future Japanese prime minister has said the British are not very likeable, but admitted the way British prisoners marched in The Bridge on the River Kwai demonstrated their best qualities.
Ichiro Ozawa, the former secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Democratic Party, also said he values US democracy but dismissed the American people as “simple-minded”.
The 68-year-old veteran politician, who resigned as the second most important official in the ruling party in June after coming under fire for campaign finance scandals, reportedly said: “I don’t like British people,” before praising British democracy and their discipline, citing the 1957 Second World War II film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, in which British prisoners of war march in orderly ranks.
The film, based on the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai starred Sir Alec Guinness, William Holden and Jack Hawkins. Guinness won an Oscar for his portrayal of Colonel Nicholson, who convinces the other British prisoners of war to build a bridge for the Burma-Siam railway as a means of boosting British morale but which eventually turns into a monument to himself.
The film won six other Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Veterans of the Second World War who fought against Japan said Mr Ozawa’s comments about Britain were insensitive but they would “not get into a sweat about it”.