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SOCIETY > Human Rights

International art festival receives reduced subsidy from gov’t

As a result of reviewing its decision not to pay a subsidy at all (about 78 million yen in total) to “Aichi Triennale 2019,” an international art festival, the Agency for Cultural Affairs decided on March 23 to pay a reduced amount, about 67 million yen, to Aichi Prefecture. The agency had once decided not to pay a subsidy on account of errors in the prefecture’s application, but the prefecture, after admitting the fault, reapplied, sources said. 


During the festival, a statue symbolizing a comfort woman was exhibited in the section titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression. The statue provoked a storm of protest. As a result, the exhibition was temporarily suspended. Citing the prefecture’s failure to report at the time of the submission of the application for a subsidy to the agency that it was concerned about the safety of the venue and smooth operation of the festival because of the statue, the agency, despite its original decision to pay a subsidy, decided not to pay last September.  


In response, the prefecture, based on the Act on Regulation of Execution of Budget Pertaining to Subsidies, etc., filed a complaint with the government. After admitting that the prefecture failed to report to the agency in advance its concern about the safety of exhibition and withdrawing the complaint, the prefecture reapplied for a subsidy for a reduced amount. The agency then overturned its earlier decision and judged that it is appropriate to pay a subsidy to the festival. 


(Translator’s comment: This year’s Human Rights Report covers the festival saying, Despite the constitutional right to freedom of expression, in August the governor of Aichi Prefecture shut down, after three days, a section titled “After ‘Freedom of Expression’” of an art festival in Nagoya. The section was intended to celebrate freedom of expression by featuring works that had previously been excluded or removed from exhibition in Japan or elsewhere. The exhibit featured a statue symbolizing an estimated 20,000 wartime sex slaves or “comfort women” and was closed three days after the opening of the festival, one of the country’s biggest international art festivals,”…”The exhibit was ultimately reopened for the final two weeks of the 75-day festival, but organizers were notified they would not receive a state subsidy, in part because organizers did not notify the Cultural Affairs Agency in advance that the exhibit could trigger an outcry that might affect the event’s operation.” The Human Rights report was published on March 11. The government’s decision to pay a subsidy was made on March 23, according to the article). 

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