Hundreds of photographers have accused Nikon of censorship after it pulled an exhibition in Japan about the lives of women who worked as wartime u2018sex slavesu2019.

The controversial show, by South Korean photographer Ahn Sehong, was due to depict the lives of ‘Comfort Women’ – Koreans reportedly ‘kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves’ by Japanese soldiers during World War Two.

Sehong, who has been working on the project since 1996, said Nikon pulled the show amid political protests in Japan.

The photographer said he has since been bombarded by crank phone calls and threats to his family over the exhibition, due to be shown at the Nikon Salon in Tokyo.

‘Everything was prepared, printed and framed, ready for the opening on 26 June,’ said Sehong.

‘It was due to show the efforts of 15 years of work. Suddenly, it was cancelled by the sponsor Nikon who apologised to us but did not offer any reasonable explanation.’

He added: ‘Since then I have found my personal information being posted on the internet, and I and my family have been intimidated by some anonymous calls.’

Nikon had reportedly received complaints about the exhibition, but has refused to give a reason for axing the show.

A Nikon Europe spokesperson told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘Nikon Corporation in Japan decided to retract its support of the photo exhibition for a number of different reasons.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t have anything further to add at this time.’


 Picture credit: Ahn Sehong

Photographers, including Magnum’s Chris Steele-Perkins and Chris Furlong of Getty, have demanded Nikon reverse its ‘censorship’.

Among those springing to Sehong’s defence is photojournalist Brian Harris who said: ‘It’s the job of the photographer to uncover difficult truths and confront the world with them. Censorship in any form is abhorrent.

‘Nikon should do the decent thing and show Ahn Sehong’s work and recognise it is an important contribution to Japan’s understanding of history.’

British photographer Simon Barber has drafted an open letter to Nikon that, he tells AP, has so far attracted nearly 250 signatures from amateur and professional photographers across the globe.

‘The support for Ahn Sehong has been incredible,’ he said.

The letter, to Nikon UK’s managing director, states: ‘The photograph is a crucial part of the matrix in free and fair societies and it is essential that photographers who are undertaking important and difficult work such as Ahn Sehong should be allowed to work without interference of narrow political interests.’

Barber added: ‘I would urge anyone, whether they are a pro or a hobbyist, to offer their name because this is a really important issue about corporate responsibility.’

The Japan Visual Journalist Association has also condemned Nikon’s decision, according to a report in the Japan Times.

The petition can be seen HERE

  • Koon

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  • Tony

    What you call censorship, others might call it quality control.

  • Truth of history

    I feel deep sympathy for their agony. It must not happen again.

    But I would like to correct misunderstandings for the principal cause of the issue.

    “Sex slaves” is not proper wording for comfort women.

    Major western powers did “Slave Hunting” in Africa,but Japan didn’t in Korea.

    Comfort women were not kidnapped by the Japanese Army.

    You could find many advertising article, which recruiting comfort women, on newspapers issued in Korea before 1945.

    some voluntarily worked as prostitute to help their poor family.

    Other were sold by their family to Korean sex traders.

    And most of Brothels were run by Korean people.

    They were not slaves but prostitutes who did business and got hefty compensation.

    Korea is still now notorious for exporting prostitute and criticized internationally.

    A few years ago, Korean prostitutes demonstrated to claim “Right for prostitution”.

    This kind of business is a Korean tradition.

  • Taro Yamada

    why British photographers are so easily cheated by ex-professional prostitutes and the photographer who is using their lies for his fame? It’s easy to find a photograph which certifies management of them by Korean dealers.

    Anyway, core of the issue is that the photographer announced needs of money to use the salon while, probably all of you know, the Nikon salon is free-for-charge for any exhibition. He attempted to use the name “Nikon” for swindle. One more. He is still occupying Japanese public corp condominium as his studio where any business-use is strictly prohibited.

    In short words, he is a “persona non grada”, so be careful, dear friends.

  • japan
  • japan

    Please study
    Comfort Women


  • 橘 卓



  • nnn

    「‘Comfort Women’ – Koreans reportedly ‘kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves’ by Japanese soldiers during World War Two.」

    ↑this is not the fact but the myth.there are many refutable evidences against korea’s allegation.
    please investigate what “Real Comfort Women” is.
    Please not get swayed by sensational words like sex-slave or censored.

  • Barry

    It is a shame that Japan has been unable to deal with its own guilt regarding its behaviour towards other nations during the years of conflict starting early in the 1930s until it was forced to yeild in 1945.

    It has tried to repress debate or any kind of discussion about this part of its history, which is going to lead to great pain for its people; better to admit its past and deal with it, even if it brings shame to those in the regime who wear the veil of respectability.

  • Lee yongnam

    japan nikon suspend culture art oppression