The controversy comes after an art exhibition was forced to shut down for two months when it received threats for displaying a statue of a sex slave Photo: AFP/File
entertainment

Criticism after Kawasaki festival drops 'comfort women' film

25 Comments

A local film festival in Kawasaki has come under fire for dropping a movie examining views on the highly controversial issue of sex slavery and Japan's wartime military brothels.

Organizers of the film festival said they had opted to drop the film after local officials raised concerns.

The controversy comes after an exhibit in central Japan was shut down for months earlier this year over the display of a statue of a sex slave, and with relations between Japan and South Korea badly frayed over war-time issues.

"Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue" is a documentary examining the debate over so-called "comfort women," who were forced to work in wartime Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Mainstream historians say up to 200,000 women -- mostly from Korea, but also other parts of Asia including China -- were forced to work in the brothels.

But some nationalists insist the women were prostitutes, claiming there is no documented evidence that the Japanese military was ordered to recruit women against their will.

The head of the festival organizers said he was "deeply ashamed of a decision that may result in pressure on freedom of expression" but cited concerns from local officials as well as worries about the "security" of volunteers staffing the festival.

Some of the people interviewed in the film, by Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki, have filed suit against him, claiming they were not aware the interviews would be used in a movie for public release.

Kawasaki City, which provided nearly half of the festival's budget, reportedly expressed concerns about the lawsuit in its conversations with organizers.

Local officials however denied pressuring organizers to drop the film, with one telling AFP they merely questioned "whether showing such a film is appropriate."

The film's distributor said the decision was shocking and called the organizer's explanations "insincere and irrational."

"If this decision stands, it would create a bad precedent for a film festival created by citizens to succumb to pressure from authorities," distributor Tofoo's president Shigeki Kinoshita told AFP.

A second film firm said it would withdraw two of its films from the festival in protest, criticizing organizers for "murdering freedom of expression."

An exhibition in central Japan was in August shut down for two months after it received threats for displaying a South Korean statue of a wartime sex slave.

The central government pulled funding for the exhibition, which eventually reopened for the final few days of its run.

Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea have frayed in recent month over a long-running dispute on the use of forced labor during World War II, with the two sides trading retaliatory measures.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

25 Comments
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This documentary film was made by a Japanese American director.

Most Japanese Americans oppose Abe administration's attempt to whitewash Japan's wartime history.

-5 ( +19 / -24 )

Unhealthy censorship.

3 ( +18 / -15 )

The head of the festival organizers said he was "deeply ashamed of a decision that may result in pressure on freedom of expression" but cited concerns from local officials as well as worries about the "security" of volunteers staffing the festival.

Threats of far-right thuggery destroying freedom of speech in Japan.

6 ( +21 / -15 )

Even if they weren’t recruited against their wills, serving 25-35 soldiers or 10-100 soldiers per day depending on the account, is not slavery? Did they have the freedom to leave? Were they forced to continue even if paid and if at all?

There has been no answer from the Japanese side on this

The answer you get from Japan’s side is that they made the decision therefore they have to accept the consequences. Not allowing them the freedom to quit is the issue of slavery overlooked by the decision to be employed often used to distract.

3 ( +17 / -14 )

A friend of mine who was in the Japanese army in Manchuria at the time described to me exactly the same scene quote by AgentX above. Every three or four days the women were sent in rota to sick quarters to recuperate.

Some of the women were Japanese too, which the article fails to mention.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

Tired of seeing S. Korea always pulling this issue out from time to time and whacking Japan over the head with it, but at the same time I'm against censorship. Let the people decide and make up their own minds about it.

In Japan, unfortunately, if you do happen to own a movie theater showing such a film, the fear of being attacked by right-wing groups has to be taken quite seriously.

5 ( +17 / -12 )

AgentX, you need to be updated.

http://www.sdh-fact.com/essay-article/369/

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Question: Why was the film pulled from the festival?

Answer:

Some of the people interviewed in the film, by Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki, have filed suit against him, claiming they were not aware the interviews would be used in a movie for public release.

It's not about censoring 'big bad Japan recruiting sex slaves', it's about an individual's right to give permission to use video of themselves in a public capacity or not. If they were not aware they were being filmed for use in a documentary and are suing the creator, then the film shouldn't be released.

Calm down anti-Japan brigade, no one's trying to whitewash anything.

5 ( +17 / -12 )

They did the same crap when "The Cove" came out about 10 years ago. Then it got very limited release.

4 ( +16 / -12 )

Hillclimber -

"...It's not about censoring 'big bad Japan recruiting sex slaves', it's about an individual's right to give permission to use video of themselves in a public capacity or not. If they were not aware they were being filmed for use in a documentary and are suing the creator, then the film shouldn't be released...."

As i understand permission WAS given and director Miki Dezaki has spoken at length about this on the internet. He has openly shown the original agreements with the appropriate clauses.

What apparently has happened is they never, ever, expected a "non-famous student film maker" to actually produce a documentary of this quality and credibility and that anyone let alone a cinema would ever give him screening rights.

They put forward their views as did others in the documentary and they just haven't got the gumption to stand by what they said.

Weak as.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

AgentX, you need to be updated.

http://www.sdh-fact.com/essay-article/369/

Can you explain how this is a credible source?

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Wobot, I agree. I found that article confusing for a number of reasons, including a lack of inverted commas, meaning it was not clear who was saying what, when and to whom, and it jumped backwards and forwards with strong opinions injected here and there.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Who wants to watch South Korean propaganda? I understand what happened with the comfort women. Okinawa had the same sort of system for the Imperial forces but I do not wish to think about it all of the time. It was the mistakes of the Japanese Imperial Government and while we must never repeat their crimes. We do not need to embrace it in our day to day lives.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

 I understand what happened with the comfort women.

Maybe you do, but many don't. Just look at the comments in this thread, and they aren't even Japanese.

Also how is this "Korean propaganda?" The film is made by a Japanese American.

3 ( +16 / -13 )

Divine Wind, it is not who made it but the content. I am sure it will bash Japan somehow.

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

Nothing screams guilty more than these obsessive attempts at trying to stop people from listening to different view points. One of the biggest myths about Japan is that people are conformists and avoid confrontation because they value social harmony. That's BS. Japan is a society of coercion by intimidation. People don't want to express themselves and speak their mind because they are scared of the consequences. And for a good reason too.

On the other hand, i can understand why these nationalists are so brutal and obsessed in burying their history and making sure nobody knows about it. They project their own twisted mentality into others. We all do that. They think if the world "knows" what Japan did, Japan will be seen as "bad" and will be constantly bullied and looked down on. They will lose face forever and their precious image will be lost. That's what happens in Japanese society when someone loses face, and that's what they think is going to happen to Japan on the world stage. Imagine a little kid who wet his pants, and is now afraid to death that others will find out about it and laugh at him, so he is desperately trying to hide it. Little does he know, everybody already knows, but simply don't care.

2 ( +17 / -15 )

Can you explain how this is a credible source?

Funny, no one seem to care about the credibility of contradictory testimonies by Comfort Women but you are suddenly curious about the credibility of this direct interview with Mr. Matsumoto? How do you define “credible source” then?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Yuri Otani - "...I am sure it will bash Japan somehow..."

I can only assume by that statement that you have not seen the film or seen any of the other explanatory pieces concerning the documentary's content.

It would be far better to investigate a little more than band-wagonning like some of the posters who also appear to be clueless re the films content, motives and conclusions to draw.

Why does showing a 2 sides of the story - meaning all points of view - documentary scare so many?

Why?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

YuriOtaniToday 07:42 pm JST

Divine Wind, it is not who made it but the content. I am sure it will bash Japan somehow.

What a strange comment. Even by the standards of this forum that's strange comment.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Failing to face up to wartime atrocities does Japan no favours.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Divine Wind, it is not who made it but the content. I am sure it will bash Japan somehow.

And this, in a nutshell, shows the blinkered, blinded POV of some people. It doesn't matter as to the veracity of the source, it doesn't matter if the facts are the facts or not. If it shows Japan in WWII as being anything other than innocent victims of Western aggression, then it's 'Japan bashing,' and must be rejected outright.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's clear to all and sundry that some of these women were indeed in brothels. After all, it happens in every war, especially when rights and conventions were/are weakly enforced.

As Idi Amin's forces retreated after losing the war to the Tanzanian forces in 1979, we heard of the many cases of brothels. Yet there were also those Ugandan women who willingly joined the trade to provide services as prostitutes. I'm almost certain that our US soldiers had something similar - brothels - going on during the Vietnam War.

But Koreans ought to accept that some of these women willingly joined the trade in the face of poverty, at the behest of family, or to assist their families to survive during perilous times. And, yes, many others were forced by the invading forces.

Folks, the reality of our world is murky: it's not always a world of absolutes - that good is here... bad is there. No, it isn't.

Complicity under duress is a human trait - be it in Africa, MidEast, South Asia, East Asia, Europe or wherever!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

The Japanese government and major figures have admitted to the case of the comfort women who were mostly Korean but also Japan, Chinese and others. The country apologised several times and provided compensations and set up the asian womens fund.

But the post is about stopping the showing of a movie.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But some nationalists insist the women were prostitutes, claiming there is no documented evidence that the Japanese military was ordered to recruit women against their will.

This "rationale" by Japan that there are no documents evidencing the war-time atrocities is hollow given the Japanese started burning documents en masse when it became apparent the US was coming to occupy. Rightists are too ignorant to understand this and the average Japanese person is too intellectually lazy to sort it out.

It's lucky for the rest of thag there were survivors on both sides that remember(ed) the atrocities and spoke out about them.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

@Chip Star

Rightists are too ignorant to understand this and the average Japanese person is too intellectually lazy to sort it out.

Wrong. Koreans are too blinded with anti-Japan hatred to understand Comfort Women system wasn’t illegal at the time of WW2 hence Japan didn’t need to destroy anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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