Japan: Art festival removes a statue created in memory of ‘comfort women’

22 August 2019
A section of the Aichi Triennale 2019 art festival  featuring the 'Statue of a Girl of Peace' was shut down in Nagoya following protests.
Image: Japanese flag / Nicolas Raymond on Flickr


A section of the Aichi Triennale 2019 art festivalAfter ‘Freedom of Expression’? featuring the Statue of a Girl of Peace was shut down in Nagoya following protests, reported Japan Times on 3 August.  

The statue created by Kim Seo-Kyung and Kim Eun-sung representing wartime “comfort women” has been a subject to a strong criticism since Aichi Triennale 2019 started on 1 August.  

The term comfort women is a euphemism for the women who provided sex for Japanese army before and during World War II.  

According to The Mainichi, only during the first day of the festival about 700 people filed complaints against the statue. 

One of the protesters was Nagoya Mayor, Takashi Kawamura. He has requested that the statute should be removed and told The Mainichi that “Views that the matter (of comfort women) isn’t factually correct are strong.” 

“It’s unrelated to a lack of freedom of expression. It doesn’t have to be displayed at a venue funded with a massive amount of taxpayers’ money, Kawamura added 

Freemuse’s report Creativity Wronged: How women’s right to artistic freedom is denied and marginalised covers comfort women as one of the key topics for artists self-censorship in Japan. 

The issue of Japanese authorities censoring statues depicting the systematic sexual exploitation of women from several countries by the Imperial Japanese Army is widespread.  

“Incessant attempts by authorities to censor any artworks related to the gender-specific violations suffered by ‘comfort women’ exposes the pervasive patriarchy that continues to suppress women’s rights and feminist art in the country, said Freemuse in the report 

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