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2019年8月6日火曜日

Petition Campaign to Demand the Reopening of the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition and the “Statue of Peace” at Aichi Triennale 2019


Please join us to demand the reopening of the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition and the “Statue of Peace” 

Please add your name to the campaign here

  
 Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Japan Standard Time on August 18, 2019 


On August 3rd, the Governor of Aichi Prefecture Hideaki Omura who heads Aichi Triennale 2019 Organizing Committee, and Mr. Daisuke Tsuda, its Artistic Director, announced to cancel the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition (hereafter “Exhibition”) held in Aichi Prefecture 3 days after the opening. The “Exhibition” was scheduled to be held for 75 days from August 1st to October 14th. 

The Triennale curated various artworks involving Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery (also known as “comfort women”) and Japan’s Imperial System that had been censored and removed from public spaces in the past. The “Statue of Peace” by sculptors Seo-kyung Kim and Eun-sung Kim was among them. (For more information about the “Statue of Peace,” please click here: The Interview: Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung on Arirang TV). These artworks were created and exhibited in the hope that viewers would learn about and remember what happened in the past, and such horrific war crimes would never be committed again in the future. In other words, it is an important art project for our future. 

However, the “Exhibition” immediately started to receive threats, harassment and attacks through phones, emails and other means from politicians, commentators and citizens who found it problematic based on their one-sided interpretation. In the meantime, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura also criticized the “Exhibition” and implied the possibility of stopping government funding for the triennale. On August 2nd, Mayor Kawamurai shared a comment about the “Statue of Peace” after his brief visit at the exhibit. He said it “violates Japanese people’s feelings no matter how one thinks. It is not acceptable,” and then requested Governor Omura to remove the statue. Consequently, on August 3rd, it was announced that the statue would be removed by the end of the day, and hours later, that the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition altogether.
 
We are extremely concerned with this incident as it not only violates “freedom of expression” -the very topic the artists dealt with in the “Exhibition”- but the victims and survivors of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery. 

Empire of Japan sexually enslaved women and girls from countries such as China, the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, East Timor, the Netherlands and Japan. For more than 70 years, victims and survivors have been wanting legally bound sincere apology from the Government of Japan, recovery of their dignity and remembrance of their experience, suffering and memories.

We cannot frame the threats, harassment and attacks targeting the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition solely as an issue of politics or “freedom of expression.” In fact, Aichi Triennale 2019 made conscious efforts in gender equality, for example, by making sure the same number of female and male artists took part. The artwork in question, the “Statue of Peace,” represents one extreme example of gender inequality and violence, i.e. Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery. We must make efforts to confront and understand the issues of the wartime sexual violence, imperialism, and Japan’s Imperial System. The “Exhibition” would have granted us the precious opportunity. 

We demand the reopening of the “Lack of Freedom of Expression and Thereafter” Exhibition that will provide us an opportunity and space to think about and discuss such challenging yet important historical and contemporary issues.

Furthermore, we condemn all forms of violent threats and harassment such as a fax "I will bring a gasoline container to the museum," which drew comparisons with the recent arson attack on Kyoto Animation Co. studio that killed 35 people, as well as political pressure that would reinforce hate and attack. Governor and Mayor should not give in to violence but fulfill the obligation to protect freedom of expression and safety of people.
We will submit the petition to Governor of Aichi Prefecture and Mayor of Nagoya City. 

August 4, 2019
Voluntary Group to Oppose Removal of the “Statue of Peace” at Aichi Triennale



References:

STATEMENT BY THE ARTISTS OF AICHI TRIENNALE 2019 ON THE CLOSURE OF AFTER “FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION?”

“The Exhibit Lauded Freedom of Expression. It Was Silenced” The New York Times, Aug 5, 2019 
“Aichi Prefecture art festival shutters section of exhibition containing 'comfort women' statue” The Japan Times, Aug 3, 2019

“Nagoya mayor demands removal of 'comfort women' statue on display at Aichi arts festival” The Mainichi, Aug 3, 2019

“Director of pulled art exhibition in Nagoya ‘regrets’ decision to give in” The Asahi Shimbun, Aug 4, 2019


自己紹介

あいちトリエンナーレの企画展「表現の不自由展・その後」および《平和の碑》(一般には平和の少女像と呼ばれています)の展示中止に反対する署名を開始します。私たちは、美大生や研究者などの若年層が集まってできた有志グループです。 Twitterアカウントもあります。 @LnOObc0JF5mBEOO

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