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Aichi Triennale festival's art director reiterates argument that removal of ‘comfort women’ statue was for safety Updated: 2019-08-23 16:23:40 KST

A statue representing the many victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, commonly known as 'comfort women,' was removed earlier this month from Japan's largest art festival.
At the time, the statue's sculptors only received an email from the organizers of the Aichi Triennale art festival explaining their decision four days after the exhibition came to an end.

The statue's removal triggered an uproar with the segments of the Japanese public and artists from Japan and other countries insisting the organizers shouldn't have backed down to threats.
Without prior notice, the festival's art director attended a discussion held in Seoul on Thursday and said he wanted to apologize to the artists.

"So far, I haven't heard anything from the festival's organizing committee. What we heard today was the first message we received from them."

"We showed discourtesy. We also felt there was a lack of communication. I want to talk to the artists and say sorry."

However, instead of apologizing sincerely, Tsuda doubled down on the festival's past excuse.

"When we made the decision, my only thought was about keeping the artists and our staff safe. It was a tough decision."

But the curator, who planned the exhibition "After Freedom of Expression?" that included the comfort women statue, refuted the director's argument and said the statue's removal exemplifies the issue of censorship in Japanese society.

"It doesn't match the facts, but I'm afraid it's not appropriate to disclose that here. The comfort women statue was the most attacked piece at the festival followed by other works about a Japanese emperor. That's the real aspect of Japanese society."

Over 30-thousand people have signed a petition and public protests are continuing in Japan calling for the exhibition to be reopened.
The curator also emphasized that there should never be a repeat of the situation, saying the festival should reopen to show the right-wingers who made threats that their behavior is unacceptable and won't be tolerated in the future.
Lee Min-sun, Arirang News.
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