Today marked the first day of shooting on Japan'slatest WWII drama, Ore wa, Kimi no Tame ni Koso Shinini Iku (literal translation I WillDie for You), which centers around Japan'sfamed kamikaze pilots. The project was announced last August by Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, who is serving as executive producer andscreenwriter on the film. Actor Yosuke Kubozuka (Go, PingPong), on the comeback trail after a near-fatal fall in 2004, co-stars withSatoshi Tokushige (Lady Joker) in the film, directed by TakuShinjo.

The film will be distributed by Toei, whohave enjoyed great success with another WWII drama, Yamato, which topped $40m at the domestic box-office in itsextended run.

The cast also includes MichitakaTsutsui (KT)and Keiko Kishi (TheTwilight Samurai, The Yakuza) ina key role as Tome Torihama, a woman who ran acanteen in Chiran, Kagoshimaprefecture, close to the airbase where the kamikaze pilots would depart from.She would treat the doomed young men like her own sons before their finaljourneys. Torihama related her tragic tales toIshihara, who pitched Toei the story in late 2003, apparently writing thescript in four days.

A week before shooting began,over a hundred extras were put through drills at the Toei studios inpreparation for filming, learning soldier conduct, how to march, and playmilitary songs. Today's filming took place in the town of Chiran itself.

"It's not just about computer graphicsand special effects. At the end of the day it depends on the actors'performances. I want the cast to put everything they have into the charactersand do justice to the pilots who died," said Ishihara.

The controversial governor, who has heldthe position since 1999, is well-known for his outspokenness and is oftenaccused of harboring nationalistic or racist views. He may be most famousoverseas for his non-fiction book TheJapan That Can Say No, which called for an end to kowtowing to the United States. Ishihara's long career as a politician has run concurrent with hiscareer as a writer, with a long line of screenplays, plays, and books datingback to the 1950s, including his AkutagawaPrize-winning novel Season of the Sun,adapted into a famous film starring his brother Yujiro Ishihara, an icon ofJapanese cinema. Ishihara had collaborated with director TakuShinjo before on the Okinawan-themedHisai(1998).

The governor was paid a goodwill visit byClint Eastwood last year in preparation for the director's film about Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers.