Nikon, forced by the Tokyo District Court to honour its agreement with photographer Ahn Sehong to show his exhibition of ‘Comfort Women‘ after it had bowed to right wing pressure to cancel it (see my post Nikon Bows To Extreme Right), have further antagonised opinion around the world by their actions at the gallery.
On the Nikon Salon web site today the only mention of the show is still the statement:
“Tue., Jun 26 – Mon., Jul 9
Ahn Sehong’s photo exhibition has been cancelled based on a number of reasons. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused concerned parties.”
and a visitor to the show on Sehong’s Facebook page, quoted in a detailed report in English on Global Voices, Japan: Korean Comfort Women’ Photo Exhibit Sabotaged says there was no mention of the show at the gallery.
Visitors to the show had to undergo searches by Nikon hired security staff, including the use of metal detectors, and Nikon tried to prevent any media coverage and attempted to prohibit photography inside the show, although such bans are now virtually impossible to enforce. Their actions have been both misguided and counter-productive.
Right-wing extremists who deny the Japanese atrocities of the Second World War including the abduction and abuse of the ‘Comfort Women’ have protested outside the gallery, and some heightened security at the gallery is necessary to prevent any attacks by these groups on the show. But the Nikon gallery are clearly trying still to censor the show and public debate about it, as well as making it difficult and unpleasant for visitors to attend. Fortunately this does not appear to have had the intended effect, and Global Voices report Sehong as saying that many people came to the show on the first day and “many Japanese people showed condolences to these old ladies.”
Photographers from around the world have also showed their support for Sehong and their anger towards Nikon, with some calling for a boycott of Nikon products. The I Am Censored web site mentioned in my post Letter to Nikon is still calling for signatures – please sign if you have not already done so.
Calls to boycott Nikon are hardly practicable for those of us who are Nikon users, and have no meaning for the other half or more of professional photographers who use Canon. But I think we all have an interest in opposing this threat to free speech and photographic integrity, and need to find effective ways of making our views known to Nikon – wherever, whenever and however we can.