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“Comfort women” photographer receives death threats


Rebecca Rogers
WVoN co-editor 

A South Korean photographer has received a number of death threats after his exhibition on comfort women was abruptly cancelled by sponsor Nikon.

Ahn Sehong, 40, was due to stage the exhibition in the prestigious Nikon Salon in Tokyo next week but has come up against protests from Japanese right-wing conservatives.

Camera producer Nikon have so far refused to comment on specifics, stating only that they cancelled for “various reasons”, but it looks like they buckled under pressure from conservative groups.

The term ‘comfort women’ is used to describe the young women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial armed forces during World War II.

Discussion of these atrocities is still taboo in Japan and is a source of tension in Asia, particularly between South Korea and Japan. The issue currently remains unresolved as Japan has yet to apologise to the South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during the war.

Since the controversy, Sehong’s personal information has been shared online and he has received a number of harassing phone calls.

“I also sometimes receive letters with no return address telling me to ‘stop lying’ and ‘go back to Korea’” Sehong said.

But others have come out in support, dubbing the cancellation a “betrayal of women”, including The Japan Visual Journalists Association, The Japan Daily Press, The Japan Times and CNN.

Sehong has stated that he will not let the issue lie and is demanding that the exhibition continues as planned, saying:

“In the beginning I was angry and frustrated…but this is not a matter of being angry. I believe there is a problem with the Japanese government. They’re discriminating against the comfort women.”

An online protest has been set up, including an open letter to Nikon.

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