Masahiro Shinoda, a leading director of Japan's 1960s New Wave, has announced the production of what he says will be his last film: Spy: Sorge.

A project Shinoda has been developing for the past fifteen years, Spy: Sorge will tell the story of Richard Sorge, a German journalist who served as a Soviet spy in Japan for nine years, until his arrest by the Japanese in 1941. During that period Sorge and his ring were able to penetrate the upper echelons of diplomatic and government circles, while conveying crucial information about German and Japanese war strategy to their Russian masters. He is considered to be the single most successful spy to emerge from World War II.

"In dramatising his story, I hope to create an intellectual entertainment that stirs new feelings about the wartime period," Shinoda told a press conference. Shinoda intends to hold auditions in London and New York for the lead and begin filming next year on location in Shanghai, Berlin and Moscow. He has received permission from Yoko Ono to use John Lennon's Imagine as the film's theme song. Toei plans to release Spy: Sorge in Japan in 2003.

Shinoda's credits include Pale Flower, MacArthur's Children, Gonza The Spearman, Sharaku and Owl's Castle.