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
“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
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