Japanese right-wingers protest South Korean comfort women photographer, shout ‘go home’
By Adam Westlake / June 6, 2012 / No Comments
Ahn Se-hong, a South Korean photographer whose exhibition on ‘comfort women’ was cancelled abruptly by sponsor Nikon, is now receiving threats and having his life disrupted by Japanese right-wing conservatives. Nikon refused to give an explanation as to why they canceled Ahn’s exhibition in Shinjuku, but it is believed that they were pressured by conservative groups to call off the event, as it showcased the artist’s photographs of Korean women who had been forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during their Chinese occupation preceding and during World War II. Ahn was furious, and insisted that the exhibition go on, but now he is the subject of harassment and demonstrations.
Living in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Ahn Se-hong’s personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses for both his home and office, as well as information about people he knows, has been posted on the internet. He says that he receives at least one or two hang-up calls at day at both home and office, as well as receiving letters with no return addresses that say “go back to Korea” and to “stop lying.” Right wing supporters have posted video online that call for a protest of a lecture Ahn has scheduled in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, on June 10th. A group calling themselves the Citizens’ Association for Disallowing Preferential Treatment for Zainichi Koreans have also begun a telephone campaign against Yokkaichi city hall in order to stop the lecture. On the group’s website, they state that they will do everything they can to stop the event, and they can’t, then there will be protests in the street at the venue.
It still remains taboo in Japan to discuss the cruel acts committed during wartime, especially the comfort women issue. The Japanese government has never issued a formal apology to South Korea or its victims. There was outrage from South Koreans towards the cancellation of Ahn’s photo exhibition. This was fueled by the Japanese government’s earlier request for a comfort women memorial in New Jersey, U.S., to be taken down. The local community, made up of a large population of South Korean descendants, was furious, and the news made its way around the globe to Korean citizens. A spokesperson for Ahn has said that he still plans to go ahead with the lecture in Yokkaichi, as well as a display of his works on June 25th, the original date for the cancelled Nikon display in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Nikon comfort women photographer told to ‘stop lying’ and ‘go back to Korea,’
Posted on : Jun.6,2012 13:48 KSTModified on : Jun.6,2012 14:17 KST
Japanese right-wingers demonstrate against Ahn Se-hong in front of Nikon headquarters in Tokyo, May 25.
Japanese conservatives mobilize to disrupt photo exhibition and photographer’s personal life
By Jung Nam-kyu, Tokyo correspondent
A Korean-Japanese photographer whose planned exhibition on comfort women in China was abruptly canceled by Nikon Salon is now receiving direct and indirect threats from Japanese right-wingers.
Ahn Se-hong, 40, had planned to stage an exhibition on comfort women left behind in China. The event was abruptly cancelled by camera maker Nikon, who had been sponsoring the event. Nikon purported to sponsor events such as the comfort women exhibition to encourage creative photography, but buckled under pressure from conservative groups to call off the event.
Discussion of Japan’s wartime atrocities is still taboo in that country; the comfort women issue remains unresolved as Japan still refuses to apologize to South Korean women forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
Now Ahn’s personal information has been posted on the internet and he is receiving harassing phone calls on a daily basis. Internet users believed to be affiliated with the Japanese far right began posting internet videos in late May calling for a protest of Ahn’s lecture on comfort woman photographs, which is to be held in the third conference room of the Yokkaichi civic center this weekend. Demonstrations are expected in front of the venue for a lecture he is scheduled to hold on June 10 in Yokkaichi, a city in Japan’s Mie prefecture.
A right-wing organization called the Citizens’ Association for Disallowing Preferential Treatment for Zainichi Koreans said on its web site that it was waging a continued telephone campaign to the city hall to stop the lecture and demanding an investigation of Ahn “using his rented residence in Nagoya as a base for other purposes.”
“We intend to do everything in our power to stop the lecture. If we cannot, we will hold a street protest in front of the venue,” the site said.
Ahn reported receiving one to two hang-up calls a day at his home and office. “I also sometimes receive letters with no return address telling me to ‘stop lying’ and ‘go back to Korea,’” he said.
Ahn also said someone had posted his home and office addresses and telephone numbers on personal information about acquaintances online.
The executive committee for Ahn’s exhibition plans to go ahead with the Yokkaichi lecture meeting as scheduled and attempt an installation of his works on June 25, the date of the originally scheduled exhibition in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district that was canceled by Nikon Salon.
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