reviews

Doug Anderson [Sydney Morning Herald 9 March 2010, p.19]

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Orderly behaviour and rigid conformity have long been part of Japan’s work culture. Discipline and the “right” attitude promote reliability and drive economic miracles – which is probably why we’ve never had one. Tanaka Tetsuro was an engineer at Oki Denki, a Tokyo corporation, who believed in the work policies that had brought success to him and his employer. But when a new management structure was implemented, Tanaka rebelled. The revised corporate mindset demanded unswerving loyalty that amounted to submission. Tanaka said no, refusing to participate in compulsory calisthenics. He argued against other stupid company policies and stood up for unfairly dismissed workers. The firm responded by ordering his transfer to a distant regional facility. Again Tanaka said no and was sacked. For almost 25 years he has mounted a vigil outside the factory gates, demonstrating his individuality as an inspiration to others whose right to democracy within the workplace is being compromised. One determined man can make a difference.

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Daniel Bloom [ TVFIX 7 March 2010 ]

This documentary illustrates just how difficult one man’s struggle for truth and understanding can be.

If you’ve ever tired of the mindless drone of the nine-to-five, then Tanaka Tetsuro may just appeal to your anarchistic sensibilities. As a successful engineer for one of Japan’s many global corporations, Tanaka refused to take part in daily calisthenics classes that were deemed necessary by his corporate bosses. Furthermore, he was given the option (read: ultimatum) of moving from his current position to a position in a rural factory.

Tetsuro refuses to move and is subsequently sacked. What transpires after this is the story of how one man has the guts to question the corporate world — and in doing so begins a 25-year crusade to have his story heard at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Tetsuro also manages to spend his days picketing his former employer’s building; this is something he has been doing for the past 25 years.

What makes this doco compelling viewing isn’t really the fact that one man has decided to challenge the status-quo in a country known for its strict and conservative ways. What’s more important is the journey into the human soul and how one man has never given up (despite the fact that he’s fighting an insurmountable battle). If there’s one thing we can learn from his battle it is simply this: the human soul is a mighty tool when utilised to its full potential.

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EnhanceTV [ http://www.enhancetv.com.au/ March 2010]

Tanaka-san Will Not Do Callisthenics, is a moving narrative that captures the courage and willpower of one remarkable man who believes that he can make a difference.

Tanaka Tetsuro was a successful engineer at a powerful corporation in Tokyo. The young man seemed to have had it all: a promising career with a dependable company, a loving wife and family, and a vibrant spirit that could not be trumped. That is, until the corporation he worked for acquired new management, fiercely forcing company loyalty and submission from their employees. Deep down, Tetsuro knew that his life would never be the same.

In his remaining days at Oki Denki, Tanaka Tetsuro stood for what he believed in. He supported unfairly dismissed workers, spoke against company policies and refused to perform mandatory stretches before beginning his work day. Finally fed-up with his antics, the corporation ordered Tetsuro to transfer to a far away location. When he refused, he was fired.

Since that fateful day, Tetsuro has been a human rights activist, standing outside the company gates each morning as employees mindlessly flow in. He prays, delivers speeches and sings songs all with the hope that more individuals will refuse to be controlled by their employers. It is his dream that one day democracy will be restored to the nation, and he firmly believes that he is making a difference.

This emotional documentary follows Tetsuro’s life as an activist for human rights in Japan. Cameras capture his struggle as he stands outside the factory each day, discusses human rights with his peers, attends Oki Denki’s annual shareholders meeting, and rallies support for his life’s mission. Intimate interviews with Tanaka’s wife and son’s reveal their admiration and support for his cause, yet also unveil their worries about his emotional and physical health as he refuses to give up on his dream.

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The week’s best TV: Kerrie Murphy [ The Australian 6 March 2010 ]

Tanaka Tetsuro was an engineer at Tokyo’s Oki Denko until he refused to participate in the company’s mandatory callisthenics programs, becoming a champion of employees’ rights. After refusing a transfer, he was fired and has since protested daily at the company gates for almost 25 years. That’s some hardcore windmill tilting. Australian filmmaker Maree Delofski explores his story within the bigger context of employee rights in a culture built on conformity.

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Jonathan Frey: All Movie Guide

Tanaka-San Will Not Do Calisthenics is a testament to the incredible power of the individual. Tesuro Tanaka, a man whose day job requires him to work at the Japanese Oki Electric Manufacturing Company but whose true passion is singing, decides to react to the news of the impending militarization of his job with what’s in his heart. Every day for 28 years, Tanaka stood outside his factory and, as a form of protest, sang. This documentary shows how Tanaka’s simple act exposed the corruption of an entire business.