AICHI (TR) – Aichi Prefectural Police have arrested 59-year-old male truck driver for allegedly threatening to set fire to a museum over a statue symbolizing the so-called “comfort women,” reports Nippon News Network (Aug. 8).
On August 2, Shuji Hotta, a resident of Inazawa City, allegedly threatened the organizers of the art festival Aichi Triennale 2019 via a hand-written fax over one part of the exhibit “After Freedom of Expression.”
The part of the exhibit includes two chairs and a statue of a girl seated in one. The figure, titled “Statue of a Girl of Peace,” is representative of the women and girls forced to serve in the brothels of the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II.
“Remove it as soon as possible,” the message said, referring to the statue, “or our network of people will bring gasoline cans to the building.”
The matter was reported to police on Tuesday. Hotta, who was arrested the next day, admits to the allegations, police said.
Hotta emerged as a person of interest for police after examination of security camera footage showed him using a fax machine at a convenience store in Ichinomiya City, Aichi.
Protests and threats
After receiving a series of protests and threats, organizers shut down the exhibit out of concerns for public safety on August 3.
Aichi Prefectural Gov. Hideaki Omura is the chair of the organizing committee. He said that a number of threatening emails, phone calls and faxes had been sent.
Omura added that the use of “bring gasoline” in the fax sent on August 2 was a reference to the arson attack at a studio of Kyoto Animation Co. last month, which killed 35 persons.
Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura was among those calling for the removal of the statue. Two days after the cancellation, Omura said that Kawamura’s request was unconstitutional and “censorship.”