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Gallery in Japan halts 'comfort woman' show after explosive device found

The exhibit of a Korean “comfort woman” statue was suspended Thursday after staff at Citizen's Gallery Sakae in Nagoya reported an explosive device in a package, according to multiple press reports. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
The exhibit of a Korean “comfort woman” statue was suspended Thursday after staff at Citizen's Gallery Sakae in Nagoya reported an explosive device in a package, according to multiple press reports. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

July 8 (UPI) -- A gallery in Japan suspended a "comfort woman" exhibit after a small explosive device was delivered in a package.

Citizen's Gallery Sakae in Nagoya said Thursday that a staff member opened the package about 9:35 a.m. and a firecracker inside exploded. No injuries were reported, according to Kyodo News.

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The group organizing the exhibit, which includes a statue, said local authorities requested a temporary evacuation of the building. Organizers were forced to remain outside the gallery after the incident and the exhibit did not open at 10 a.m. as scheduled.

The city of Nagoya has ordered the gallery to close, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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The exhibit in Nagoya opened Tuesday after much controversy, which forced other venues in Tokyo and Osaka to postpone similar shows.

The Nagoya exhibit was expected to continue through Sunday, but the gallery has been the target of protests. Far-right demonstrators used loudspeaker-equipped vans to disrupt the event. according to Channel A on Tuesday.

The statue of a Korean teenager in traditional dress, symbolizing the women victims forced to service Japanese wartime brothels, also became a flashpoint in 2019 at the Aichi Triennale.

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Demonstrators two years ago threatened to set the exhibition hall on fire with gasoline, prompting organizers to cancel the exhibit after only three days.

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The suspension of the show in 2019 prompted civic groups and artists to condemn the action. Some activists took legal action, according to Yonhap.

Japan's far-right was planning to hold a rival exhibit in Nagoya this month, but the event is likely to be canceled in light of the recent incident at Citizen's Gallery as investigations are ongoing, reports said.

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Tokyo and Seoul have failed to resolve historical disputes after South Korea shuttered a foundation to compensate comfort women. Pressure from activists and former victims forced Seoul to close the fund in 2019.

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