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A group of Japanese Beatles fans have lost their bid to get police to hand over historic footage of the band’s 1966 Japan visit.

The fans took their battle for the film — recorded by police as a security measure — all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing it was a “historical document.” Police had offered to release the footage, reportedly about 35 minutes long, but only after blurring the faces of everyone in the film except the Beatles, citing privacy reasons.

Two lower courts backed the police against a group of citizens from Nagoya who wanted the entire film released uncensored, saying it would be almost impossible to identify people in the footage more than 50 years later. But the long and winding legal battle ended last week when the Supreme Court rejected their argument, the group announced.

The Beatles toured Japan only once, playing five concerts, and were trailed across the country by legions of screaming fans.

A lawyer for the group seeking the footage said it would have huge historical significance for Beatles enthusiasts. “It is a document that should be made available from a historical standpoint,” lawyer Satoshi Shinkai told the Asahi Shimbun daily. “The final concert given on July 2 was apparently electrifying,” added fan Toru Omura, who has written books about the impact of the group’s tour. “If confirmation can be made of the existence of footage from that day, there would be huge excitement,” he told the newspaper.

The Beatles remain popular in Japan, and Paul McCartney arrived in Tokyo this week to kick off his new world tour.


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