Nikon Corp. officials canceled a photo exhibition of former "comfort women" in Tokyo but denied the decision was the result of angry protests that spread from the Internet to the camera manufacturer.
"While it is a fact that we received several phone calls protesting the holding of the photo exhibition, the cancellation was decided on after comprehensively considering various circumstances,” a Nikon official told The Asahi Shimbun. “We cannot comment on the specific contents of the protests nor on the number we received."
The photos of the Korean women, who were abandoned in China after the end of World War II, were taken by Ahn Se-hong, a South Korean who lives in Nagoya.
An organizing committee that includes Ahn, 41, planned to hold the exhibition at the Shinjuku Nikon Salon in Tokyo between June 26 and July 9. A committee in charge of operating the salon consisting of photographers and other individuals initially approved the project after an application was submitted last December.
But Ahn was told on May 22 by a Nikon official that the exhibition had been scrapped. The photographer is now demanding answers.
"We cannot accept the cancellation because we have not yet received a convincing explanation from Nikon," Ahn said.
Ahn quoted the Nikon official as saying, "I cannot say what the reason is, but we want to go to Nagoya to apologize to you."
The photo exhibition would have featured about 40 photos taken by Ahn since 2001 in various parts of China. The 12 women he met were forced to provide sexual services for Imperial Japanese Army troops during World War II and were abandoned in China after the war ended.
Of the 12, seven have since died.
Ahn held a talk on the photos in Nagoya on May 19, apparently without incident.
But from around May 21, postings about the exhibition became more frequent on Internet bulletin boards. One posting described the exhibition as propaganda by a foreign nation, while another said it was an act of betrayal that would only serve to falsify history.
Other postings called for sending the protests to Nikon.
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