A 47-year-old man was arrested Sunday for allegedly threatening an organizer of a controversial Tokyo art exhibition that was to feature a statue symbolizing "comfort women" but was canceled due to protests, investigative sources said.
“Comfort women” is a euphemism for those who suffered under Japan’s military brothel system before and during World War II. They were forced or coerced into sexual servitude under various circumstances, including abduction, deception and poverty.
Takahiro Unemoto, a resident of Amagasaki in Hyogo Prefecture, is suspected of sending a threatening email five times from his mobile phone between June 19 and July 14 to one of the organizers of the "Non-Freedom of Expression Exhibition," according to the police.
The event, which was scheduled to run from late June to early July in the capital, was canceled at the last minute due to protesters who denounced it as "anti-Japan" and used loudspeakers to create disruption.
Unemoto has admitted to sending a threatening email that included statements such as "It wouldn't be strange even if someone among you would die," according to the Tokyo police.
In July, an envelope containing firecrackers and addressed to the venue of an art exhibition in Osaka, featuring the same statue of a girl symbolizing Korean comfort women and other controversial works, was delivered to a post office.
Shortly before the Osaka exhibition, a suspicious package exploded at the venue of another controversial art event in Nagoya, leading the exhibit to be canceled two days after its opening.
Police have been looking into the two cases, with both envelopes having been sent from Hyogo Prefecture.
A similar event staged using taxpayer money sparked controversy in Nagoya in 2019. The exhibition was closed three days after opening in August that year over security concerns amid a flood of threats and complaints.
Following its initial closure, the exhibition reopened for seven days in October 2019 and showcased the statue symbolizing comfort women, as well as a film featuring a scene where an image of Emperor Showa, the grandfather of the current emperor, is set alight.
The exhibition drew public attention as it cast light on Japan's historical issues with its neighbors as well as the right to freedom of expression.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.