Fonda protests Japan ban; troupe awaits government ruling

Actor Donald Sutherland at the Marunouchi Hotel press conference.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 10, 1971

TOKYO — Actress Jane Fonda charged Wednesday that her FTA (Free the Army) troupe was denied formal entry into Japan after Japanese consular officials had assured them they could come in as non-profit entertainers on tourist visas.

Miss Fonda, whose 16-member troupe arrived from the Philippines Tuesday to perform antiwar skits for American servicemen, said she was "alarmed and distressed" by Board of Immigration refusal, to allow the troupe more than a 48-hour temporary landing permit — pending a final decision on whether they will be allowed to remain and perform outside U.S. military bases.

Reading a prepared statement in a tense and tired voice, Miss Fonda told Japanese and foreign newsmen:

"Two months ago, the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles, California, confirmed that our role as entertainers who did not receive financial compensation, whose purposes were to meet and entertain American GIs, would require a tourist visa and issued them to us.

"We are alarmed and distressed we should find ourselves here on this momentous anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Pacific War, that we should find ourselves on a mission of peace at the borders of the country that has one of the largest peace movements in the world, and that we should be denied entry."

Miss Fonda said she felt the matter, which has been appealed to the Japanese Ministry of Justice, was a "simple bureaucratic error" that would be rectified in the troupe's favor. Another member of the troupe said an answer was expected ''soon, probably tonight (Wednesday)."

Meeting newsmen at a restaurant near the Marunouchi Hotel, where they were allowed to stay pending a decision, the FTA troupe looked drawn and tired. They were held at Tokyo International Airport for 3½ hours Tuesday and told to report back there Wednesday morning.

After individual interviews, a Board of Immigration spokesman said, Miss Fonda and Canadian actor Donald Sutherland (who portrayed a sardonic Army doctor in M*A*S*H) were told that, as tourists, they could not engage in theatrical performances or political activity of any kind. Asked if she intended to go through with a planned appearance at an antiwar rally, Miss Fonda shook her head and quietly said no.

The troupe was also instructed to stay within the 23 wards of Tokyo — well away from any large U.S. military base. They have been denied permission by American authorities to perform on base.

Miss Fonda made no direct charges that the troupe was denied formal entry for political reasons.

During the troupe's performances in the Philippines at Olongapo, outside Subic Bay Naval Base, she said, "emergency orders" kept the attack carrier Coral Sea and three smaller vessels outside port "until we went away.

"Now we have come to Japan and your immigration officers have refused us entry."

A Navy spokesman at Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines denied that any orders were given to ships in regard to the Jane Fonda Show. He said the Coral Sea is at sea and was not scheduled to berth at the base at the time of the show.

One carrier, the Oriskany, left Friday "but that was scheduled a long time before the show." according to the spokesman.

Actress and anti-war activist Jane Fonda listens during a press conference at Tokyo's Marunouchi Hotel in December, 1971.

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