BERLIN (AFP): Veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada told the Berlin film festival Friday he made his new 1940s drama "The Little House" for a generation of compatriots who seem oblivious to the horrors of war. Yamada, 82 said the picture, his latest release in 60 years of filmmaking and based on a best-selling novel by Kyoko Nakajima, aimed to explain the devastating impact of World War II to younger audiences. "People from that era are slowly but surely all dying -- the last people who really know what it was like during wartime," he said through an interpreter.

"The sense that the war was a catastrophe, that it was dreadful, that it was cruel, that it was a tragedy -- the sense that you have to learn from that and never repeat that again."

The director said the themes were bitterly relevant at a time of heightened tensions between Japan and China and after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's inflammatory visit to a contested Japanese war shrine in December.

"The whole government, the prime minister and so on, they're all from the post-war era so there's a real generational divide from those who experienced the war," Yamada said.

"I think we should be against this kind of official visit," he added, referring to Abe's stop at the shrine that honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 war criminals from World War II.

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The film tells the story of a university student in today's Japan whose childless great-aunt Taki has just died.

She had been hand-writing her memoirs in her twilight years about her tumultuous time as a maid and nanny in her youth in the home of a toy company executive, his beautiful wife and their sickly son.

Coming from a lower class and with dismal prospects for marriage, Taki is delighted to arrive at The Little House in Tokyo, a lovely structure which looks like it could have emerged from a Frank Lloyd Wright sketchbook.