国際交流基金 The Japan Foundation Performing Arts Network Japan

New Plays 日本の新作戯曲

Dec. 26, 2013
Karera no Teki (Their Enemy) by Misaki Setoyama



Karera no Teki (Their Enemy)
Misaki Setoyama

This play about the actual incident of a kidnapping of Waseda University students that occurred in Pakistan in 1991 is written by free-lance writer Misaki Setoyama based on her research and interviews with one of the victims, Takayasu Hattori, who later became a photographer. Members of the Waseda University Frontier Boat Club named Sakamoto (Hattori’s name in the play), Goto and Aizawa had gone to Pakistan for a canoe trip on the Indus River. There, they were kidnapped by a band of thieves and kept captive for 44 days before finally being released unharmed. However, after returning to Japan the three became the target of criticism and biased media coverage. With the exception of the actor of the main character Sakamoto, all the other actors play multiple roles as the storyline shifts back and forth between 1991, with the life of the three students in captivity in Pakistan and the events after their return to Japan, and 2000 with Sakamoto’s later life as a photographer.

Karera no Teki (Their Enemy) by Misaki Setoyama
Karera no Teki (Their Enemy) by Misaki Setoyama
Karera no Teki (Their Enemy) by Misaki Setoyama

Theater company Minamoza Karera no Teki
(Jul. 24 - Aug. 4, 2013 at Komaba Agora Theater) Photos by Takayasu Hattori
Data :
Premiere: 2013
Length: 2 hr.
Acts/scenes: 1 act/3 scenes
Cast: 6 (5 men, 1 woman)

The opening scene is set in Japan in the year 2000. Sakamoto is now a photographer for a weekly magazine chasing stories based on gossip about religious cults and politicians.

The scene shifts to Pakistan in 1991. The three students Sakamoto, Goto and Aizawa, who have gone to Pakistan for a canoe trip are kidnapped by a band of thieves and are kept captive in a hideout in the woods. Aizawa has been sent to the Japanese embassy as a messenger of the kidnappers’ demands and the remaining hostages Sakamoto and Goto are talking about their dreams for the future in an attempt to relieve their anxiety.

The scene returns to the year 2000 where Sakamoto is on a stake-out trying to take some incriminating photos that will give the weekly magazine he works for a scandalous scoop article. A colleague named Iikura at the magazine’s editorial desk asks Sakamoto why he became a photographer for a weekly magazine if he says that the bashing he received from the media was harder on him than the period of captivity in Pakistan.

The scene shifts to 1991 in the woods in Pakistan. Sakamoto is talking with a Pakistani man who has also been taken captive by the thieves. They talk about “God” and the things they believe in. The man tells Sakamoto that he is a soldier. In an attempt to cheer up the despondent Sakamoto, the man gives him a harmonica he had intended as a present for his daughter and tells him, “Make yourself happy.”

Several days after being moved to a new hideout, Sakamoto and Goto are released by their captors. It was the end of 44 days in captivity. However, in the airplane on their way back to Japan a reporter from the Asahi Newspaper tells them that in Japan they were being ridiculed in an article in a weekly magazine as having embarked on a “reckless adventure” they should never have been allowed to indulge in to begin with. Awaiting them when they arrived in Japan was an army of photographers and a storm of telephone calls and letters criticizing their actions.

The setting shifts again to 2000 and the office of the publishing company Sakamoto works for. He is photographing a female staff writer named Kawase who has dressed herself up like a woman doctor. It is for an article about the sex industry, which she also writes without affectation, saying that everything she writes is merely training toward her eventual goal of writing novels.

The scene returns to 1991 and a coffee shop after Sakamoto and Goto’s return to Japan. Accompanied by an employee of the Pakistan Embassy in Tokyo who believes that some of the blame also lies with the Japanese Embassy for not being sufficiently informed about the dangers of the area the two had traveled through. They have come to confront an editor named Sakawa and a reporter/writer named Yada responsible for their weekly magazine’s article criticizing the students for embarking on what the article describes as a reckless and irresponsible canoe trip.

When confronted, the editor and writer try to push the responsibility on each other, with Yada saying that he was only interviewed by Sakawa and didn’t write the story, while Sakawa counters that he only wrote down what Yada had said in the interview. Sakamoto is deeply disappointed to hear Sakawa argue that his policy is to leave the interpretation of what is written in a article up to the readers.

Again the setting is the office of the publishing company Sakamoto works for in the year 2000. He is photographing the staff writer Kawase dressed up this time as a female tour bus guide. When asked by Kawase about the article concerning the Waseda University student kidnapping incident in Pakistan, Sakamoto replies that as someone who knew the pain of being hurt by the media’s coverage he decided to become a photographer so that he could use photographs to try to help improve media coverage. But, in Sakamoto’s bag is a photo showing a glimpse of the underwear of a runner from a women’s marathon race he recently covered. Finding the photo, Kawase asks Sakamoto accusingly if, as “someone who knows the pain” of being misused by the media, he now intends to do the same thing to someone else.

It is 1991 in the woods in Pakistan. The soldier who had befriended Sakamoto tells him that he is going to be released and leaves him with words of encouragement and a strong handshake.

It is 2000 at the office of the publishing company. The editor Iikura announces that he is going to use the revealing photograph of the marathon runner in the magazine’s next issue. Sakamoto goes down on his knees in order to stop the publication of the photo and bargains with the editor, saying that he will quit his job there as well.

The scene is the platform at a train station. Kawase tells Sakamoto that she was the one who put the photo(s) on Iikura’s desk. She admits that she did it in a moment of irritation because she saw something of herself in the compromised state Sakamoto’s of life.

Sakamoto tells Kawase about the Pakistani soldier who befriended him in captivity and was probably taken off to be killed, rather than being released as he had said. He then tells her that he may have taken the wrong road out of the woods but he had no regrets about the journey he has made. When he adds that he won’t use his camera as a weapon to kill people anymore we can feel that he has begun to shed the chains that have bound him to his past.


Born in Tokyo in 1977, Setoyama graduated from the Waseda University’s School of Political Science and Economics. In 2001, she started the theater company Minamoza for which she would be the playwright and director. From 2003, she would begin activities as a freelance writer as well her theater work. Setoyama creates plays characterized by a concern for reality deriving from her thorough research and in-depth interviews related to her subjects. In January of 2011 Setoyama’s play Emotional Labor about a group of phone fraud swindlers portrayed from a gender perspective was selected for the “Theater Tram Next Generation Vol. 3” contest organized by the Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo, known as a proving ground for young theater creators. Works in recent years include a documentary play based on Setoyama’s own life since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami titled Hot Particle , a short duo play exploring the standard value of the heart titled Yubi (Fingers) and a play titled Kokumin no Seikatsu dealing with the sins of capitalism at the daily life level. Among these, Yubi has since been performed often in various forms, by student theater clubs, in readings and in overseas performances. Outside the work with her theater company, Setoyama’s activities have included writing the script for a stage adaptation of Kuniko Mukoda’s Ashura no Gotoku (Like Asura), writing the script for and directing a stage adaptation of Kotaro Isaka’s Fish Story , participating in the writing of a reading script titled Watashi no Mura kara Senso ga Hajimaru (War starts from my village) depicting the town of Takae in Okinawa and serving as a program director for the community workshop series “Chiiki no Monogatari” organized by the Setagaya Public Theatre. Setoyama is a project committee member of the Japan Playwrights Association.