Photo/IllutrationThe “Statue of a Girl of Peace” and a miniature of the statue are displayed at a gallery in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward in 2015. The statues symbolizing “comfort women” were created by South Korean sculptors Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung. (Provided by Yuka Okamoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

NAGOYA--A statue of a girl symbolizing “comfort women,” a poem treasuring the pacifist Constitution and other exhibits that were removed from public display will be featured at an exhibition here on freedom of expression.

The show, “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” will begin on Aug. 1 as part of the Aichi Triennale 2019: Taming Y/Our Passion.

It follows a similar event held in Tokyo in 2015 that displayed pieces that were shunned because of criticism that they were “politically motivated” and “contentious.”

Daisuke Tsuda, a journalist and the triennale’s artistic director, said he decided to organize a sequel after “receiving a jolt” when he saw the body of works at the first event in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward.

“Art is supposed to shake viewers’ emotions,” he said. “But there have been a growing number of cases in recent years in which artists’ freedom of expression has been curbed over concerns that their pieces might offend some viewers. We are providing an opportunity for audiences to view the exhibits and judge for themselves.”

The themed show at the Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya’s Higashi Ward will feature more than 20 pieces, including those displayed at the Tokyo gallery.

One exhibit shows photos of Korean former comfort women in China. “Comfort women” is a euphemism for women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II.

The photos were taken by Ahn Se Hong, a Korean photographer based in Nagoya.

In 2012, Ahn’s photo exhibition was scheduled to be held at the Nikon Salon gallery in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. But Nikon Corp. canceled it after a flurry of protests were lodged about the content of the photos.

The incident inspired a group of concerned citizens to stage the 2015 exhibition in the capital.

Another exhibit at the show in Nagoya will be a poem calling for Japan to adhere to war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

A woman in her late 70s in Saitama composed the poem after being alarmed by government moves to expand the overseas role of the Self-Defense Forces.

Her poem was supposed to have been carried in a monthly bulletin of a local community hall in 2014. But local officials changed their mind, saying the poem was “contentious.”

Also on display will be two statues epitomizing former comfort women. Sculptors Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, a Korean couple, created a number of these statues to “remember the painful memory of former comfort women.”

Their two entries for the Nagoya show are “Statue of a Girl of Peace” and a miniature of statues that were set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul and many other sites.

The miniature went on display at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in 2012, but it was later removed. The display of the miniature at the Aichi Arts Center will be its first showing at a pubic venue since then.

Tsuda has been preparing for the exhibition in Nagoya since last year by setting up an organizing committee of five members.

The organizers were concerned about possible obstruction by people critical of the exhibits, particularly at a time when Tokyo-Seoul relations have further deteriorated since South Korea’s Supreme Court late last year ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to wartime Korean laborers.

But they decided to go ahead with the exhibition as planned by working closely with local police and others to ensure security at the venue.

The exhibition will be held through Oct. 14.