Ken Watanabe will star in Clint Eastwood's Red Sun, Black Sand, the Japanese companion piece to his Iwo Jima drama Flags of Our Fathers.

According to Variety, he film is set to begin production next week in Los Angeles.

Steven Spielberg is a producer on both films, which tell the story of the famous WWII battle from each side. DreamWorks and Warner Bros. are partnering on the pics, which will have a staggered release later this year. Flags is expected to bow first.

Eastwood, who is in post with Flags, will shoot the companion entirely in Japanese.

Japanese-American scribe Iris Yamashita penned the script, from a story by her and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis, who adapted Flags.

Paramount will release the films domestically, while Warner Bros. International will distribute overseas. In Japan, Red Sun will be titled Letters from Iwo Jima.

Red Sun revolves around the real-life Japanese General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, played by Watanabe, who battled American troops for 40 days on the small island of Iwo Jima. Also starring in Red Sun are Japanese thesps Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase and Shido Nakamura.

Eastwood will lens most of Red Sun in L.A., but has received permission to shoot exteriors on Iwo Jima.