Friday, June 29, 2012

"Comfort women photographer pleased by Japan court"

From Japan Today, 6/29/12:

A South Korean photographer whose Tokyo exhibition on Japanese wartime sex slaves only went ahead after a court injunction said Thursday it was important to display the work to inform the public.
Japan-based Ahn Sehong said he had been disappointed when camera maker Nikon abruptly cancelled his exhibition, which features 37 pictures of some of the now-elderly Korean women forced into sex slavery during World War II.

In January a company selection committee had approved Ahn’s proposal for the show at Nikon Salon in the Shinjuku business district of Tokyo, to be held from June 26-July 9, he told reporters.

But on May 22 the company unexpectedly told him it was shelving the show, three days after a newspaper article about it appeared.

It was only the intervention last week of Tokyo District Court, which ordered Nikon to provide a display space, that ensured the show would go ahead.

“I felt I needed to inform (the public) about these elderly women, former comfort women,” he told a press conference.

Ahn said he believed nationalists had pressured Nikon after the article appeared, making the company reluctant to be associated with the exhibition.

Personal threats from rightwingers increased when the show started Wednesday, said Ahn, who moved his family outside the central city of Nagoya after receiving a number of abusive emails and phone calls.

The issue is a sensitive and divisive one in Japan, whose military exercised a brutal rule over Korea, parts of China and other areas of Asia during World War II.

Many Japanese agree that young Asian women were forced into sex slavery for Japanese soldiers during the war.

But some argue that local pimps and businesses tricked the women into prostitution rings, with Japanese soldiers buying their services as customers and having no direct role in the running of brothels.

The issue continues to cause friction between Seoul and Tokyo, with South Korea repeatedly asking for talks on compensation, overtures Japan has turned down, citing the 1965 compensation deal that led to the normalisation of relations.

Nikon has been tight-lipped about the on-off-on show.

“We told Mr. Ahn that we would like to cancel the show after comprehensively reviewing various factors,” a Nikon spokesman said Thursday, refusing to elaborate.

The company has objected to the court injunction, he added.



Makiko Segawa provides more details in her Japan Focus article:

Nikon, Neo-Nationalists and a Censored Comfort Women Photo Exhibition


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