‘Comfort women’ film back to Japan festival | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 04, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 04, 2019

‘Comfort women’ film back to Japan festival

A film festival in suburban Tokyo will show a documentary on the highly controversial issue of Japan’s wartime military brothels, organisers said yesterday after coming under fire for dropping the movie.

The film’s screening was cancelled last week after concerns over the safety of volunteers and objections from local officials.

But the decision was reversed after “lots of voices offering cooperation to address our safety concerns,” a member of the organising committee told AFP, who said the festival would increase the number of volunteers to boost security.

The controversy over the film comes after an exhibit in central Japan was shut down for two months earlier this year after it received threats for displaying a statue of a wartime sex slave, and with relations between Japan and South Korea badly frayed over wartime issues.

The documentary “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue” examines the debate over so-called “comfort women”, who were forced to work in 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.

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 on Tokyo’s outskirts, which provided nearly half of the festival’s budget, reportedly expressed concerns about the lawsuit in its conversations with organisers.

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

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