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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 31 - August 6  > Political pressure on exhibit of ‘statue of Korean girl’ in Aichi Triennale violates Constitution banning censorship: Koike
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2019 July 31 - August 6 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Political pressure on exhibit of ‘statue of Korean girl’ in Aichi Triennale violates Constitution banning censorship: Koike

August 4&5, 2019

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on August 4 in Sendai City said to the press that political pressure for the closure of exhibits, including the “Statue of a Girl of Peace” symbolizing Japan’s wartime sex slaves (so-called comfort women), is unacceptable as it poses a threat to the freedom of expression stipulated in the Constitution of Japan.

The exhibits in question were displayed as part of the Aichi Triennale 2019 which opened in Nagoya City in Aichi Prefecture three days earlier. This section titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” exhibited works which had been rejected or removed from Japan’s public cultural institutions along with explanations of how and why. In addition to the statue of a girl, there were various works which are deemed to be “political”, such as a work having a motif of the Emperor Showa and wartime Japan and a “haiku” on Article 9 of the Constitution.

Koike, who visited Sendai to join JCP candidates’ campaigns for the city assembly election, referred to remarks made by the Nagoya City mayor and the Chief Cabinet Secretary. Koike said, “The imposition of an end to the exhibition featuring themes irritating to administrative authorities constitutes censorship prohibited under the Constitution.” He added, “Under a situation where the freedom of expression, which is the foundation of democracy, is put in danger, people’s human rights will be seriously endangered. The JCP will work hard in collaboration with other political parties to block any move to turn Japan into a highly censored nation like prewar Japan.”

Nagoya Mayor Kawamura Takashi urged the Aichi governor to close the “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” section immediately after his visit to the exhibition on the second day of the Aichi Triennale by saying said that the statue symbolizing Korean victims of comfort women “represents a gross insult to Japanese”.

Cabinet spokesperson Suga Yoshihide made a remark hinting at the withdrawal of state subsidies to the Aichi Triennale, which is tantamount to applying pressure on the organizing committee to shut down the exhibition.

On the third day of the Triennale, on August 3, Aichi Governor Omura Takashi, who also heads the Triennale organizing committee, announced the cancellation of the exhibition at issue. As the reason for this, Omura reported that the number of aggressive phone calls and e-mails which included threats of committing a terror attack reached 1,400. The governor said, “I know that the government authority should refrain from interfering with exhibits in the art festival. However, I decided to shut down the “Freedom of Expression” section in order to secure the safety of the art event.”

Following the governor’s announcement, Aichi Triennale Artistic Director Tsuda Daisuke held a press conference. Stating that he was experiencing heartbreaking grief, Tsuda said that he cannot deny the possibility that remarks made by Kawamura and Suga might have triggered the security threats.

Past related articles:
> High court recognizes city’s refusal to publish woman’s poem on Article 9 as illegal [May 19, 2018]
> Abe gov’t should hold talks with Seoul to improve bilateral ties [February 22, 2017]

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