National

Aichi art festival featuring controversial 'comfort women' statue wraps up without incident

JIJI, Staff Report

The Aichi Triennale 2019 art festival, which included a controversial exhibition featuring a statue of a girl symbolizing the so-called comfort women, came to a close Monday.

As the 75-day festival in Aichi Prefecture ended, Gov. Hideaki Omura, head of the event’s organizing committee, told reporters that there were many things that should be regretted, adding that he will look back and reflect on the lessons learned to better prepare for future projects.

Daisuke Tsuda, artistic director of the festival, said that although the cancellation of the exhibition set a bad precedent, he is glad that the exhibition was reopened.

The “After ‘Freedom of Expression?'” exhibition was suspended soon after the event opened on Aug. 1, as its content, including the comfort women statue, faced a storm of protest.

The term “comfort women” is a euphemism used to refer to women who provided sex, including those who did so against their will, for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

The prefectural government reopened the exhibition in early October.

On Monday, the last day, many people from both within and outside the prefecture, went to the art festival. There were no major problems or trouble on the final day, according to the organizing committee.

More than 650,000 attended the art festival, a record high for the triennial event, according to sources.

On Monday, about 220 people selected by lottery were able to see the controversial exhibition.

“I’m really glad that I could get to see the exhibition, as when I came here before it was the day when it was canceled,” a 30-year-old woman from Kyoto Prefecture said. “There were art works that left me feeling strange, but it was wrong to cancel the project itself.”

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