A film festival that began over the weekend in Kawasaki has decided not to show a documentary focused on debates over the issue of “comfort women.”
The phrase refers to women who provided sex, including those who did so against their will, for Japanese troops before and during World War II.
The organizer said it could not avoid changing its initial plan of showing the film — “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue” — after the city, a co-sponsor of the festival, expressed concerns.
It said the city, which has provided ¥6 million ($55,200) for the Kawasaki Shinyuri Film Festival, was worried about potential problems given that some of the people interviewed in the film by director Miki Dezaki had filed a lawsuit to stop its screening, claiming they had not given permission to appear in a commercial film.
“The festival is organized by mostly volunteers and we made the decision considering safety and management risks,” said Shuji Nakayama, head of the festival. “Given that the festival is financed by taxpayers’ money, it was unavoidable to have a different judgment from a private theater.”
The festival, organized by nonprofit organization Kawasaki Arts with a total budget of ¥13 million, will run through Nov. 4.
The decision prompted an independent film company, Wakamatsu Production, to withdraw the showing of its two movies, criticizing the move as an act of “murdering freedom of expression.”