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Japanese people just hope these women will die and history will be erased

09/06/2012

Forgotten faces: Japan’s comfort women

Photographer Ahn Sehong photographs are portraits of the Korean women known as comfort women, victims who were forcibly taken from Korea and used as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

They’re pictures of elderly women, part of his exhibit that was scheduled to take place at the Nikon gallery. That is, until Nikon canceled it without explanation.

Now 80 to 90 years old, they’re the living but dwindling history of the decades-old war crimes. Some Japanese extremists believe the crimes against the comfort women never happened. Others would prefer to stop discussing Japan’s ugly war history in modern times.

Japan's past denied.

Japan’s past denied. Photo Ahn Sehong.

The letter Sehong received didn’t state why the exhibition was canceled, and while Nikon told CNN that public complaints had been lodged before its planned opening, a representatives said that wasn’t the reason the exhibition was pulled.

Japan has a track record of downplaying its war crimes. Most recently, Japan’s government says two delegations met with the mayor of Palisades Park, New Jersey, asking the city to remove a memorial dedicated to comfort women.

The city says the Japanese officials offered cherry blossom trees if the city would take down the memorial, a small, unremarkable rock that has a single bronze etching on the side.

“We don’t want to repeat that kind of massive, government-organized human trafficking. The only way we can stop that kind of human rights violation is remembering that human rights violation. The best way to remember it is to have a memory of it.”

Japan’s government has formally apologized on numerous occasions for the atrocities against the women. Japan helped establish the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, which is supported by government funds and provides assistance to comfort women. The AWF has received donations from Japanese people equaling US$7 million.

Japan has resisted direct payments to individual victims.

“These grandmothers were forced into slavery 70 years ago,” says Ahn. “They lived and survived alone. Afterwards, no one remembers them.”
Nikon cancels a photo exhibition by Ahn Sehong on Japan’s comfort women in Tokyo

English: Women volunteer corps (They are not s...

English: Women volunteer corps (They are not so-called “comfort women”) 日本語: 女子挺身隊 한국어: 여자정신대(이른바「위안부」는 아니다) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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3 Comments
  1. PHILLTHEDILL permalink

    Unfortunately Japan has a record of not acknowleding or trying to erase its horrific war history. They consistently under play their role in some of the worst events of the 20th century

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    • It’s human nature. Nobody likes to remember the bad things from the past.
      But it’s our duty to keep the memory alive, so that such things don’t happen again.

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  2. Even the coined word “comfort women” is insulting.

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