politics

Statue of 'comfort woman' pulled from Japan exhibit finds new home in Spain

20 Comments
By Andrés González

A Spanish businessman has bought a statue symbolizing women forced to work in Japanese military brothels which was removed from an exhibition in Japan after organizers received threats over the piece.

The "Statue of a Girl Of Peace" symbolizes the "comfort women", a euphemism referring to women, many of them Korean, forced into the brothels before and during World War Two.

Estimates vary, but historians say thousands of women may have been involved. There are currently 20 survivors registered with the South Korean government and the subject remains a sensitive one in both countries and elsewhere in Asia.

The work was removed after it attracted "terror threats" via telephone and email as soon as it went on display this month at the Aichi Triennale art exhibition, Aichi Prefecture Governor Hideaki Omura told a news conference on August 3.

Businessman Tatxo Benet said he plans to display the work, which depicts a young woman wearing a traditional Korean dress sitting on one of two wooden chairs, in a "Freedom Museum" he plans to open in Barcelona as early as next year.

Benet, founder of soccer rights company Imagina (Mediapro), said the museum would exhibit around 60 pieces of artwork that have been censored in different parts of the world.

"A year and half ago I began buying artwork censured around the world for different reasons whether political, ethical, moral or sexual," Benet told Reuters in a telephone interview.

After reading about the furor caused by the statue in Japan, he bought it last week, he said.

"I think I have enough material for a permanent exhibition center and perhaps even a documentation and archive center about censorship in the art world," Benet said.

His collection includes a Lego brick portrait by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, a satirical painting of Donald Trump by Illma Gore and a video by David Wojnarowicz censored by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

From Spain, the exhibit will include a set of pictures of jailed Catalan separatist leaders which was removed from Madrid's ARCO art fair last year.

Organizer Ifema said at the time that the controversy surrounding the pictures was hurting the visibility of other art works, an explanation which sparked complaints from separatist political parties and the left-wing Podemos party.

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20 Comments

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A brilliant idea for a museum. Censorship should never win.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

Benet, founder of soccer rights company Imagina (Mediapro), said the museum would exhibit around 60 pieces of artwork that have been censored in different parts of the world.

To sum up, he plans to make money from controversial pieces.

He is no ally, he is a capitalist user/vulture.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

A lot more people are going to see it now, a far more global platform for the topic to be talked about and educated about. Great outcome really.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

@Chip Star

A brilliant idea for a museum. Censorship should never win.

It is the Japanese who need to be educated on the history of comfort women, not Spanish people.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

It is the Japanese who need to be educated on the history of comfort women, not Spanish people.

Agreed. That said, your comment is completely irrelevant to mine.

I did not comment on who needs educating. Please keep your responses relevant to mine or leave me out of your conversation.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

To sum up, he plans to make money from controversial pieces.

Didnt see anything stating this? You have some information that the article didnt have?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Samit BasuToday  

It is the Japanese who need to be educated on the history of comfort women, not Spanish people.

You want the education about comfort woman?

Read this

https://twitter.com/head_bulb/status/1105470546949529600

Read this (Note: she was indicted in Korea for defamation of comfort women)

http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.com/2014/10/summary-of-professor-park-yuhas-book.html

1 ( +8 / -7 )

A brilliant idea for a museum. Censorship should never win.

Certainly no contradiction from me. @ chipstar and @ Samit, if the whole world can be educated the better, but more so the Japanese, they're the ones who need it most .

1 ( +4 / -3 )

You want the education about comfort woman?

Oh? Try spinning this then

https://www.smh.com.au/national/australian-wartime-sex-slave-jan-ruffohearne-hits-out-at-hideous-japanese-denials-20140224-33d4o.html

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Wallace FredToday  09:36 am JST

*You want the education about comfort woman?*

Oh? Try spinning this then

So?

That is a very famous case.

Her father complained to the comfort station and 4 stations were shut down.

But that's the only individual crime done by Japanese officer.

Are you saying if only some individual police officers committed crime, it means ALL ENTIRE officers are criminal?

Hell No!

There was no official Japanese military document issued to order to abduct women against their will.

Have you took statistics class? What you do is just BIAS SAMPLING.

Question is how much that Dutch woman case represents all the entire comfort woman?

Answer me, if you can.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The point of these sources provided above is to show that some Koreans were also involved in the sex slave and/or prostitution system. The above links do not intend to exonerate the Japanese involvement and indictment but to add Koreans to the accused am I right?

That Koreans were involved does not mean the Japanese weren’t responsible. Tell me what I am missing for those of you who insist that they were all prostitutes.

Could it be that there were sex slaves and prostitutes? Is there a requirement they must be either all prostitutes or all sex slaves?

Those who witnessed slavery might consider that prostitution existed.

Those who witnessed prostitution might consider that there were many who were not paid and were forced to serve like slaves.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Melt it down and turn it into coins.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@quercetum

Could it be that there were sex slaves and prostitutes?

Thank you. That is a starting point. The next step is to calculate what the proportions were and who was doing the so called "enslaving".

Actually, it would also be fair to state there was also a third category of war time sex crimes too but, again, the question is who carried them all and in what numbers?

The ultimate weakness in the Japan Hate Mob's argument is that they want to take the very worse single cases they can find, actions that were clearly against military code, and claim that all cases were the same. And discount any contradictory evidence, or evidence of Korean culpability.

For example, many regiment or battalion leaders were against comfort stations and this is recorded in their diaries that still exist. They saw them as below the dignity of the IJA.

(Note, Koreans in Japan also had their own comfort women at this time and many Korean comfort woman actually chose to stay on in Japan after the war because they considered life there better breaking the mould of an "evil Japan". Many married former clients and there are records of genuine love affairs between them).

Actually, if you study the actual cases that are recorded, the complaint of many of the women was not what they did for a living, but that after the war their earnings were worth nothing, that the wartime currency collapsed, or that they simply lost their bank books and were not able to withdraw their generous earnings.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I wonder if his freedom collection will include some Charlie Hedbo cover pages. That would certainly make for hat exhibition site.

But dare I guess he limits his freedom of speech artifacts to those that are not dangerous to him?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

quercetumToday 09:54 am JST

The above links do not intend to exonerate the Japanese involvement and indictment but to add Koreans to the accused am I right?

No, not adding.. it is a different role.

Comfort woman is all about money, because the amount of money for prostitution Japanese military paid was a lot!, as shown in recruitment advertisement or their bank accounts (before Japan came to Korea, Korean women were not even allowed to have a bank account!) ,

These are types of people involved.

(1) Parents

Poor and needed money 

(2) Their daughters

(3) pimp/ mediator/ local recruiter

(Either Koreans or Japanese )

(4) Japanese military

Story line

Parents(1) sold their daughters to pimp(3), and received a half of money in advance.

Their daughters(2) were foolishly lured into a vehicle with a bait gift like a red beautiful pair of shoes or something(as testimony says) taken to the comfort station .

Japanese military paid a lot of money to pimp(3) and girls start to work.

Here below is an famous official cautionary documents about comfort woman station issued by Japanese military.

It says to be more carefully about recruiters who might have kidnapped girls and getting a trouble with police. Try not to hurt the prestige of Japanese military.

http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.com/2014/10/summary-of-professor-park-yuhas-book.html

source Figure 7

http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.com/2014/10/summary-of-professor-park-yuhas-book.html

So, who should be blamed first for comfort women?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

it seems that censorship is alive and well in Japan...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

About the comfort women, it is clear that it was large and complex situation, and that the truth is somewhere between the two extremist narratives ("they were all prostitutes" vs "it was organized sex slavery"). I don´t know why some people insist that it has to be one or the other.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@pacificwest

The ultimate weakness in the Japan Hate Mob's argument is that they want to take the very worse single cases they can find, actions that were clearly against military code, and claim that all cases were the same. And discount any contradictory evidence, or evidence of Korean culpability.

Well said. This is characteristic of propaganda. Extreme examples made out to be the norm disrespects the intelligence of the public seeking the truth. I have to wonder if the same might be said as well: that some Korean women who were coerced or tricked into working at the brothels or comfort stations, by Korean operators, becomes all the Korean women in question were victims of Korean operators and not that of the IJA.

@hachikou

My initial impression of Professor Park Yuha was that this person seems to be saying everything the Japanese have been claiming and was skeptical: that the Korean women in question were not coerced by the Japanese military but by the Koreans themselves. She gains credibility though when acknowledgement of partial responsibility is given:

Professor Park Yuha:

Some may ask why it was necessary for the Japanese government to apologize via Kono Statement if Korean women were coerced by the Korean operators. Well, the Japanese military's invasion into China and Southeast Asia did create the demand for comfort women. So Japan bears part of the responsibility for women's suffering although its military did not coerce Korean women nor operate comfort stations.

This is important that responsibility is admitted but you’ve got to be kidding me because the main issue is that there were women who had to serve thousands of soldiers against their will. Whether they became victims initially by Koreans or the Japanese is secondary. This is not what they had signed up for.

While there were women who knowingly signed up for this line of work, the question of whether the Japanese military were wholly responsible or merely partially responsible prevents Japan from owning up to the role they played, side steps the issue, and diminishes the suffering of these women.

What would you say if a pedophile with thousands of pictures of naked children in his pc or device claimed that he wasn’t the one who had taken those pictures?

We are too focused on who, rather than what, had taken place. What is preventing the reconciliation?

Professor Park Yuha offers her explanation and evidence:

The anti-Japanese activist group "Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery" (also known as Chong Dae Hyup 정대협 挺対協) was formed by the South Korean communists. Its leader said publicly it was determined to defame Japan for the next 200 years. 

Chong Dae Hyup ...has used the comfort women issue for its political purpose, which is to drive a wedge into U.S.-Japan-South Korea security partnership.”

This is promising because as pacificwest mentions and I paraphrase: the weakest argument is to take an extreme case, the very worst case, and claim that all cases were as such.

In the same way, we would be guilty of the same folly if we were to take an extreme group, the Chong Dae Hyup, and claimed that Koreans all subscribed to and endorsed their agenda and line of thinking.

As much as the Imperial Seal decorating, loudspeaker fitting, propaganda and Kimigayo broadcasting, black van driving ultranationalist far right are not representative of the Japanese, neither are the Japanese defaming, reconciliation impeding, Agreement reneging Chong Dae Hyup representative of the average Korean.

In short, , Professor Park Yuha acknowledges the responsibility of the Japanese military in the Comfort Women/ Sex Slave issue but informs the world that the women in question were not coerced by the Japanese military but instead, were recruited and forced by Korean businessmen and operators of such facilities. Reconciliation and compensation efforts have been made by the Japanese government but ultra leftist or Communist group(s) in South Korea with ties to North Korea obstructs any progress due to their own political agenda. The former essentially names another culprit in the past. The latter names the culprit in making progress towards the future.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The Japanese argument is always going to be, that it does not matter how the women got into the brothels, only that they were ALL paid for their services, and many if not most were paid BETTER than a IJA soldier at the time.

This justifies their position that the women were ALL prostitutes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good to read productive discussion like above which is rare here in JT.

The problems are those activists including Chong Dae Hyup and even the one like WAM in Japan.

They do nothing but fix spot-lights onto Japanese only. Imagine how those young kids have been taught about this horror stories in their class and made to protest in front of Japan Embassy. Look all those statues overseas and what epitaphs of those still saying.

Yes Japanese soldiers were almost exclusive customers of the system at one time, but if you step back and see things in longer span since before ww2 through Korean/Vietnam war up to 90's , you could have much better grasp on what the real issues have been in Korean Peninsula. That is what Park Yuha or Lee Yong-hoon have been claiming.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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