As the taboo-busting comic Joan Rivers used to say after pressing her audience's buttons, "Can we talk?"

On the evidence of this year's Aichi Triennale, one of the largest art festivals in Japan, if it's about World War II atrocities (other than the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or Emperor Showa in any way that may be less than respectful — the answer seems to be "no."

To recap: A section of the festival, called "After 'Freedom of Expression?'" was closed for more than two months of the scheduled 75-day long triennale run, after the organizers received threats, particularly about two works. One was a video piece by Nobuyuki Oura, which features the burning of photographic images of Emperor Showa. The other was "Statue of a Girl of Peace" by Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, which commemorates Korean "comfort women," a version of which caused Japan to withdraw its ambassador to South Korea for three months in 2017, after it was installed in Busan.