Last month’s ruling in which the Tokyo District Court compelled Nikon Corp. to allow South Korean photographer Ahn Se Hong to use Nikon’s property for a controversial exhibition (of former South Korean “comfort women”) is no victory for freedom of expression, as argued in the July 7 editorial “Victory for freedom of expression.”
Without reading the contract, it would be difficult to say how the court erred in its decision, but as a matter of principle, the most severe requirement of Nikon should have been to refund any fees Ahn might have paid to Nikon for the public exhibition.
Because of the subject matter of the exhibition, Nikon decided to do what was best for the company and its shareholders — cancel the exhibit. (Editor’s note: Nikon first approved the exhibition, then canceled it after receiving protests mainly from rightwingers.)
The editorial fails to mention Nikon’s right to “freedom of expression,” which includes the freedom to remain silent.
I am not saying Ahn’s right to freedom of expression is less than Nikon’s right, but Ahn cannot take property that belongs to other people in order to exercise free speech.
Every individual in a free society has a right to freedom of expression, but that does not mean every individual is entitled to free paper, ink, photocopy machines and broadcast time.
A quote from America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, sums up this ruling very well: “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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