Tokyo Court Orders Nikon to Allow Ahn Se-hong’s “Comfort Women” Exhibit

A couple of weeks ago Nikon became the center of a heated debate when, without explanation, they cancelled Korean photographer Ahn Se-hong’s Comfort Women exhibit. The exhibit, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow on June 26th at the Nikon Salon in Tokyo, was complied by Se-hong over the course of 11-years, and brings attention to Korean women who were used as sex slaves or “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Needless to say, the decision came as quite a shock, especially given the lack of adequate explanation.

Se-hong, however, wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Soon after being told that Nikon would not be hosting his exhibit, he filed a court injunction to try and reverse the decision — and last Friday, he succeeded. On June 22nd the Tokyo District Court officially ordered Nikon to allow the exhibit to go on as previously scheduled, regardless of the many e-mails and phone calls the Japanese corporation has been getting in protest.

Nikon’s argument to the court was that the Nikon Salon is a venue they wish to use only for “the development of photographic culture,” and that one of the conditions for allowing an exhibit to go on there was that there be no political motives. The court, however, pointed out that no such condition is clearly specified anywhere, and that the Comfort Women exhibit contributes to the development of photographic culture just fine.

Nikon does plan to appeal the decision, but a spokesperson has said that the exhibit will go on as planned if they aren’t granted an appeal by June 26th. For now, you can chalk one up for the little guy.

(via The Asahi Shimbun)

  • derekdj

    The thing that doesn’t jive with Nikon’s stance is why did they suddenly come to this decision? Staging a show isn’t something that happens overnight, it involves curation, scheduling, marketing and staging, so clearly people knew about the photographer and the nature of the collection.

    It’s pretty clear Nikon buckled under Japan’s right wing groups.

  • Slash_Cynic

    Nikon are a bunch of cheap asses. I heard they’re still trying pay Ashton Kutcher.

  • Serge Lebrun

    show this guys photos! get some grief from a few wild right wing folks, but help bridge the gap between japan and korea. There has been so much animosity here, cooperation is the way forward.

  • Collene Tsai

    especially given the lack of adequate explanation.

  • Si Barber

    Yes the exhibition is on, but Ahn is now being harassed by three lawyers from Nikon who are following him and recoding his every move. If you want to support him, please go to to send an email to Nikon to ask them to lay off. Thanks

  • Matt

    Glad it is going forward, good for the Japanese courts.

  • CanOnion

    Nikon are asshats. Yay for Canon!

  • Tom Coyner

    Nikon was caught like a deer in headlights in a no-win situation.  The company was under considerable pressure from the largely hidden but hugely powerful Japanese right wing in government and business – and it was caught with an embarrassing situation with the international general public that makes up most of its market.  The court decision gave Nikon an easy out by forcing the company to go ahead with the exhibition with an alibi to the rightists that it was forced to go ahead with the exhibition.  The court decision is probably view as a win – or at least as an escape – within some Nikon circles – but please don’t expect them to say such a thing.