The Tokyo District Court has ordered Nikon Corp., the Japanese camera maker, to open an exhibit by South Korean photographer Ahn Se-hong as was originally planned before the company cancelled it nearly a month ago. Se-hong’s exhibit on Korean ‘comfort women,’ who were drafted as sexual slaves by the Japanese army during their occupation of China prior to World War II, was originally to open on June 25th, but was cancelled by sponsor Nikon out of fear of controversy. The artist protested the injustice, and while Nikon has filed an appeal with the court, it does appear the exhibit will begin in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on June 26th after all.
Takuya Moriguchi, a spokesman for Nikon, has stated that Nikon will comply with the judge’s orders, and they have no intention of disobeying. Ahn Se-hong’s show, titled “Layer by Layer: Korean women left behind in China who were comfort women of the Japanese military,” is currently scheduled to run through July 9th, but Moriguchi says that if Nikon convinces the court of its position, it will end the exhibit early. The Japanese company abruptly announced last month that they were canceling the exhibit, and although they wouldn’t explain their reasons, it was widely believed they wanted to escape the controversy around the event and gave in to pressure from conservative groups.
Ahn Se-hong, who himself didn’t even get an official explanation from Nikon, sued the company in order to force them to hold his exhibit. Judge Yasushi Itami, of the Tokyo District Court, announced his ruling on Friday. A document filed with the court from Nikon said that the exhibit was part of a political demonstration, and as it did not fit with the original mission of Nikon’s exhibit salon, they had a right to cancel the show. Judge Itami wrote in his ruling that despite having political ties, the exhibit still displayed the importance and development of photography culture.
[Via Wall Street Journal]