• Kyodo

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A controversial art exhibition in central Japan featuring works with purported anti-Japan messages was discontinued Thursday two days after it opened following repeated threats, the local government said.

A package containing firecrackers was sent to the Sakae municipal gallery in Nagoya where the exhibit titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression?'” was being held, the city government said. An official who opened the package was unhurt, but the city decided to close the facility through the rest of the week for safety reasons.

The exhibit, including a statue of a girl symbolizing Korean women who worked in wartime Japanese military brothels, was to be held through Sunday.

Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura told reporters the package was apparently sent by a protester and that the exhibit needed to be closed to ensure the safety of local citizens.

The event’s organizers said Thursday they received a threatening letter in late June demanding that the exhibit be canceled.

According to the city officials, protestors gathered in front of the facility over the weekend, criticizing the city for allowing use of the venue.

The works on display also included a film featuring a scene where an image of Emperor Hirohito, the grandfather of the current emperor, is burned to ashes.

The exhibition initially opened at the Aichi Triennale 2019 but was forced to close over security concerns amid a flood of threats and complaints.

Kawamura, who had objected to the exhibition, refused to pay a part of the festival’s expenses in 2019, leading to a legal battle.

The 2019 incident also triggered a campaign demanding the dismissal of Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura, who headed the festival’s steering committee.

A similar exhibition that was set to open in Tokyo last month was postponed indefinitely due to disruption caused by protestors in vehicles using loudspeakers.

The exhibition is also unlikely to open in Osaka later this month as scheduled after a prefectural facility revoked permission for organizers to use it as a venue.

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