Tokyo’s “Comfort Women” exhibition in Asahi Shimbun

art Asahi Shimbun 15102015

Asahi Shimbun (Japan, 6.5 million+ readers), Sunday. Oct. 15:

Exhibition of portraits of Indonesian “Comfort Women”
It took a Dutch photographer 2 years

Frontal photographs of Indonesian women, who claimed that they received sexual violence from Japanese military during the Second World War, are exhibited in a Setagaya (Tokyo district) ward; “Japanese military comfort Women in Indonesia.” Remarkable are their eyes of these women.
Until 25th in Setagaya

In 2007 Dutch photographer Jan Banning (61) started taking the pictures. Together with Dutch journalist Hilde Janssen, who earlier began researching and interviewing the women, he spent two years to visit more than 50 women. Some of them didn’t want to talk or to be photographed. The research was difficult but they managed to photograph 46 women. 16 of them are exhibited now.

One of them, Ema, said that she was taken away from home when she was 16 years old and forced to work as prostitute for 3 years with a Japanese name “Miyako.” She also said that soldiers selected a girl from pictures of them shown at the entrance of the brothel. Mr. Banning decided to make frontal portraits as well now, just like these pictures at the time.

Women were in their teens or early twenties at that time. There was also a woman, who was kidnaped and confined when she was playing.

Mr. Banning said: “some people in Japan claim that Comfort Women were professional prostitutes, but these young girls could not be that. Please visit the exhibition, watch their faces, and think about them.”Ms. Jansen, who traced the women, said: “they are courageous women, who dared to talk about their past by showing their faces. Please have a look at their eyes. It is important for me to deliver their messages in order not to repeat the same thing.”

About the half of the 16 women have passed away already.
[furthermore: information about the Kid Ailack Hall in Tokyo and about the Women’s Museum on War and Peace that organized the exhibition]
Written by Maki Okubo.

Below the photo: Jan Banning (“this exhibition in Tokyo in the most important exhibition we could possibly have”) and Hilde Jansen.

Thanks to Fumi Hoshino for the translation.