After all the controversy and struggle Ahn Se-hong went through to have Nikon continue with his ‘comfort women’ photo exhibit in Tokyo, his event continues on, albeit with some increased security after some nationalists made a scene. As the sponsors of the event, Nikon originally cancelled the South Korean photographer’s exhibit, but he won a court order against the company to have his show go on as scheduled. After it’s opening on June 26th, the event has seen a number of attendees, and even a few more looking to make trouble.
The artist’s exhibit, titled “Layer by Layer: Korean women left behind in China who were comfort women of the Japanese military,” features pictures of women who were used as sexual slaves prior to, and during World War II. In order to get inside, visitors must pass through an x-ray station, as well as numerous guards at the entrance, and inside as well. Ahn says there have been 5,000 visitors so far, exceeding his expectations by around 1,000. He openly admits that the numbers most likely higher because of all the controversy and news headlines. On Wednesday of this week, a group of nationalists entered the exhibit, accompanied by police. They claimed they only wanted to discuss the pictures on display, but Ahn said Nikon staff members stepped in and quietly resolved the issue.
There are 38 photographs on display, each being a portrait of elderly Korean women, their faces wrinkled from time and seemingly portraying despair. The issue of ‘comfort women‘ is the source of many tensions between Japan and South Korea. Many South Korean women claim Japan has never issued apologies, that not enough has been done to make amends for the past, meanwhile, Japanese right-wing nationalists claim that Korean women were never forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army. These are most likely the people who pressured Nikon into calling off Ahn’s exhibit originally. When the photographer spoke out against the injustice, he was targeted for protest and harassment from those who didn’t want his art to be displayed.