Photo/IllutrationA statue of a girl representing “comfort women” and photos of former comfort women at the exhibition, “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” at the Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya on July 31. (Jun Ueda)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAGOYA--An exhibition featuring a statue symbolizing wartime “comfort women” and more than 20 other pieces that were removed previously from public view was scrapped three days after opening following a flurry of protests.

The exhibition, titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” was part of the Aichi Triennale 2019: Taming Y/Our Passion, began on Aug. 1 in Aichi Prefecture.

The organizing committee decided to scrap the exhibition on Aug. 3. Journalist Daisuke Tsuda, the artistic director of the triennale who was also involved in planning the exhibition, said at a news conference on Aug. 2 that staff members were “emotionally exhausted” dealing with threats from an outraged public.

Tsuda said about 200 protest calls were made to the Aichi Arts Center, where the exhibition was being held, on Aug. 1 alone.

The decision to cancel the exhibition followed a written call by Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura on Aug. 2 for an appropriate response, including removal of the statue, to Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura, chairman of the organizing committee of the triennale.

Kawamura told reporters it “tramples on the feelings of Japanese” after he saw the statue, which is intended to represent comfort women forced to provide sex to wartime Japanese troops, on Aug. 2.

It was created by South Korean sculptors.

Among the other exhibits were photos of Korean former comfort women and a poem embracing war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.