Declaration in Support of the Artists, Scholars, and Journalists of Japan

Japanese translation | 日本語版 | German translation | Background

The undersigned express their deep concern about the current threats against the freedom of expression in Japan and call upon the Japanese government and all of its agencies to take the steps necessary to safeguard the rights of artists, journalists, and scholars as embodied in the Japanese constitution. In particular, we urge the Agency for Cultural Affairs to retract its decision to withdraw support from the 2019 Aichi Triennale. It cannot be accepted that, in a democratic and pluralistic society, politics and administration give in to populist demands and even terrorist threats instead of defending arts and science against the enemies of the freedom of expression. We are deeply concerned that trust in Japanese official institutions has now been shattered to a degree that endangers cooperations between foreign artists, scholars and institutions with Japanese government institutions.
We also urge the Japanese government and the political leaders of Japan to fulfill their legal obligations to fight hate speech and every other, verbal or non-verbal threat against the spirit of international cooperation, reconciliation and peace.
Finally, we urge the Japanese government and all responsible politicians to give wholehearted and public support to all artists, scholars and journalists of Japan in their pursuit of the freedom of expression and opinion, to encourage the free and open discussion of political matters with respect to peace and international understanding, and to restore the reputation of Japan as a safe harbor of freedom, diversity and creativity, which are the true sources of human growth and development.

Signed by:

1. Adriasola, Ignacio, Assist. Professor (University of British Columbia)
2. Aldrich, Daniel, Professor of Political Science (Northeastern University)
3. Antoni, Klaus, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Tübingen)
4. Aoyama, Tomoko, Assoc. Professor (University of Queensland)
5. Bälz, Moritz, Professor of Japanese Law (University of Frankfurt)
6. Barnes, Gina L., Professor of History of Art and Archaeology Emerita (Durham University)
7. Bekes, Andrej, Professor of Japanese Linguistics Emeritus (University of Ljubljana)
8. Berndt, Jaqueline, Professor of Japanese Studies (Stockholm University)
9. Bogel, Cynthea J., Professor (Kyushu University)
10. Boiko, Melissa, Research Associate (Ruhr-University Bochum)
11. Brisset, Claire-Akiko, Professor of Japanese Cultural History (University of Geneva)
12. Brock, Julie, Professor (Kyoto Institute of Technology)
13. Broinowski, Adam, Dr., Researcher and Lecturer (Australian National University)
14. Buchmeier, Yosuke, M.A., Researcher (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
15. Buck-Albulet, Heidi, Dr., Research Associate (University of Hamburg)
16. Buntrock, Dana, Professor, Tomoye Takahashi Endowed Chair in Japanese Studies (University of California, Berkeley)
17. Cave, Peter, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies (University of Manchester)
18. Chauhan, Anubhuti, Dr. (University of Tsukuba)
19. Choi, Gina J., PhD cand. (Princeton University)
20. Conrad, Harald, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Düsseldorf)
21. Cook, Theodore F., Professor of History (William Paterson University)
22. Cort, Louise Allison, Curator Emerita (Freer Galley of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery)
23. Crowley, Cheryl, Assoc. Professor of Japanese (Emory University)
24. Cummings, Alan, Dr., Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies (SOAS, University of London)
25. Cushman, Carrie, Dr., Curatorial Fellow (The Davis Museum at Wellesley College)
26. Denecke, Wiebke, Professor of East Asian Literatures and Comparative Literature (Boston University)
27. Dodd, Stephen, Professor of Japanese Studies Emeritus (SOAS, University of London)
28. Dolce, Lucia, Dr., Reader in Japanese Buddhism (SOAS, University of London)
29. Dudden, Alexis, Professor of History (University of Connecticut)
30. Dufourmont, Eddy, Assoc. Professor (University of Bordeaux)
31. Eckersall, Peter, Professor of Theatre and Performance (City University of New York)
32. Failla, Donatella, Professor of History of Art of East Asia (University of Genoa)
33. Faure, Bernard, Kao Professor of Japanese Religion, Director, Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religions (Columbia University)
34. Field, Norma, Professor of East Asian Languages & Civilizations Emerita (University of Chicago)
35. Fleischer-Heininger, Carolin, Research Associate (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
36. Flüchter, Winfried, Professor for Human Geography Emeritus (University of Duisburg-Essen)
37. Forrest, Stephen, Dr., Senior Lecturer, Japanese Language and Literature (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
38. Frenkel, Vera, Professor Emerita (York University Faculty of Fine Arts, Toronto)
39. Fritsch, Lena, Dr., Curator (Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford)
40. Fujitani, Takashi, Chu Professor of Asia-Pacific Studies and Professor of History (University of Toronto)
41. Fukuoka, Maki, Dr. (University of Leeds)
42. Fukuzuwa, Hiroomi, Dr., Researcher (Free University of Berlin)
43. Garon, Sheldon M., Professor of History and East Asian Studies (Princeton University)
44. Germer, Andrea, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Düsseldorf)
45. Gleiter, Jörg, Professor of Architecture (Technical University of Berlin)
46. Gordon, Andrew, Professor of History (Harvard University )
47. Gössmann, Hilaria, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Trier)
48. Gramlich-Oka, Bettina, Professor (Sophia University)
49. Grouth, Catherine, Professor (National School of Landscape Architecture, Lille)
50. Guth, Christine, Dr., Head Curator Emerita (Royal College of Art/Victoria and Albert Museum)
51. Hayashi, Toshio, Professor (Sophia University)
52. Hayashi, Sharon, Associate Professor (York University)
53. Hayek, Matthias, Assoc. Professor (University of Paris-Paris Diderot)
54. Hein, Laura, Harold H. and Virginia Anderson Professor of History (Northwestern University)
55. Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Irmela, Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural History (Free University of Berlin)
56. Hiramatsu, Ryuen, Assoc. Professor (University of East Asia)
57. Hirano, Katsuya, Assoc. Professor of History (University of California, Los Angeles)
58. Hopf, Anja, Assoc. Professor (Niigata University)
59. Horiuchi, Annick, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Paris-Paris Diderot)
60. Horvat, Andrew, Professor by Invitation (Josai International University)
61. Hoshino, Mitsuko, M.A., Artist (Heidelberg)
62. Hughes, David W., Professor Emeritus, Research Associate (SOAS, University of London)
63. Ikeda, Shun, Independent Scholar (Australian National University)
64. Inoue, Miyoko, Lecturer of Japanese (Dalarna University)
65. Jack, James, Assist. Professor (Yale-NUS College)
66. Jelinek, Martie, M.A., Independent Scholar ()
67. Jesty, Justin, Assoc. Professor of Asian Languages and Literature (University of Washington)
68. Johnson, David T., Professor of Sociology (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
69. Joos, Joel, Professor (University of Kochi)
70. Kaminski, Eva, Assist. Professor for Japanese Studies (Jagiellonian University, Krakow)
71. Kingston, Jeffrey, Professor, Director of Asian Studies (Temple University)
72. Kinski, Michael, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Frankfurt)
73. Kirchberger, Jana, Independent Scholar ()
74. Koch, Franziska, Assist. Professor of Global Art History (University of Heidelberg)
75. Kornicki, Peter, Professor of Japanese Studies Emeritus (Cambridge University)
76. Koschmann, J. Victor, Professor of Japanese History and Asian History Emeritus (Cornell University)
77. Krebs, Gerhard, Dr., Independent Scholar ()
78. Krings, Leon, Researcher (University of Hildesheim)
79. Kunimoto, Namiko, Assoc. Professor and Director of the Center for Ethnic Studies (The Ohio State University)
80. Kuroda, Tamio, Professor Emeritus (Dokkyo University)
81. Kyburz, Josef, Professor (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
82. Lenz, Ilse, Professor Emerita (Ruhr University of Bochum)
83. Lévy, Christine, Maitresse de conférences (University of Bordeaux)
84. Lim, Jie-Hyun, Professor of Transnational History (Sogang University)
85. Lindemer, Philip, Dr., Researcher (Waseda University)
86. Linhart, Sepp, Professor of Japanese Studies Emeritus (University of Vienna)
87. Marotti, William, Assoc. Professor of History (University of California, Los Angeles)
88. McNeill, Dougal, Dr., Senior Lecturer (Victoria University of Wellington)
89. McPherson, Sean H., Assoc. Professor of Art History (Bridgewater State University)
90. Meier, Thomas, Professor of Archaeology (University of Heidelberg)
91. Meyer, Harald, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Bonn)
92. Miller, Mara, Dr., Visiting Scholar (University of Hawaii)
93. Minami, Asuka, Professor (Sagami Women’s University)
94. Mitsuyama-Wdowiak, Kiyoko, Independent Scholar (SOAS, University of London)
95. Morris-Suzuki, Tessa, Professor Emerita (Australian National University)
96. Narangoa, Li, Professor of Japanese and Mongolian History (Australian National University)
97. Nornes, Markus, Professor of Asian Cinema (University of Michigan)
98. Notehelfer, Fred, Professor of Japanese History Emeritus (University of California, Los Angeles)
99. Oikawa, Shigeru, Professor Emeritus (Japan Women‘s University)
100. Otsuki, Grant Jun, Dr., Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology (Victoria University of Wellington)
101. Pasca, Roman, Assist. Professor (Kyoto University)
102. Pfeifer, Matthias, Assoc. Professor (University of Shizuoka)
103. Picone, Mary, Assoc. Professor (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris)
104. Pizziconi, Barbara, Dr., Reader in Japanese Applied Linguistics (SOAS, University of London)
105. Platz, Anemone, Assoc. Professor (Aarhus University)
106. Poulton, Cody, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Victoria)
107. Pulverer, Bernd, Dr., Chief Editor (The EMBO Journal)
108. Pushakova, Anna, Independent Researcher ()
109. Quenzer, Jörg B., Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Hamburg)
110. Reynolds, Jonathan, Professor of Japanese Architecture and Visual Culture (Columbia University)
111. Richter, Steffi, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Leipzig)
112. Rots, Aike, Assoc. Professor in Asian Studies (University of Oslo)
113. Ruperti, Bonaventura, Professor of Japanese Studies (Ca‘ Foscari University of Venice)
114. Sakai, Cécile, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Paris-Paris Diderot)
115. Sakai, Naoki, Goldwin Smith Professor of Asian Studies (Cornell University)
116. Sand, Jordan, Professor of Japanese History (Georgetown University)
117. Sasamoto-Collins, Hiromi, Dr. (University of Edinburgh)
118. Schäfer, Fabian, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Erlangen-Nuernberg)
119. Scheid, Bernhard, Dr. (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
120. Schlichtmann, Klaus, Dr., Independent Scholar ()
121. Schlombs, Adele, Dr., Director (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne)
122. Schmitt, Uwe, Independent Journalist ()
123. Schneiss, Paul, Pastor Emeritus (German East Asia Mission)
124. Schulz, Evelyn, Professor of Japanese Studies (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
125. Schumacher, Kevin, Researcher (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
126. Seifert, Wolfgang, Professor of Japanese Studies Emeritus (University of Heidelberg)
127. Selden, Mark, Dr., Research Associate (Cornell University)
128. Shores, Matthew, Dr., Lecturer in Japanese (University of Sydney)
129. Skrandies, Wolfgang, Professor, Physiology (University of Giessen)
130. Smith, Jordan A. Yamaji, Assoc. Professor of International Humanities (Josai International University)
131. Smits, Ivo, Professor of Arts and Cultures of Japan (Leiden University)
132. Spremberg, Felix, Dr. des., Research Associate (University of Tübingen)
133. Sprotte, Maik Hendrik, Dr., Researcher ()
134. Staemmler-Fricke, Birgit, Dr. (University of Tübingen)
135. Steineck, Raji, Professor of Japanese Studies (University of Zurich)
136. Stinchecum, Amanda, Research Associate (Harvard University )
137. Suzuki, Yui, Affiliate Assoc. Professor (University of Maryland)
138. Takahashi, Shin, Dr., Lecturer in Japanese Studies (Victoria University of Wellington)
139. Takii, Kazuhiro, Professor (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
140. Tamanoi, Mariko, Professor of Anthropology (University of California, Los Angeles)
141. Tamura-Foerster, Naoko, Dr., Lecturer in Japanese (University of Bonn)
142. Teasley, Sarah, Dr., Reader in Design History and Theory (School of Arts and Humanities, Royal College of Art)
143. Tomii, Reiko, Dr., Independent Art Historian, Co-Director (PoNJA-GenKon)
144. Tonomura, Hitomi, Professor of History and Women’s Studies (University of Michigan)
145. Topolski, Lucien, M.A. (Trinity College Dublin)
146. Trede, Melanie, Professor of East Asian Art History (University of Heidelberg)
147. Ueno, Takao, Professor (Wako University)
148. van Ewijk, Aafke, Research Associate (Leiden University)
149. Volk, Alicia, Assoc. Professor of Japanese Art History (University of Maryland)
150. Vollmer, Klaus, Professor of Japanese Studies (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
151. von der Schulenburg, Stephan, Dr., Curator (Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurtr)
152. Wang, Aileen June, Dr., Curator (Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University)
153. Watanabe, Toshio, Professor for Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage (University of East Anglia)
154. Weiß, David, Assist. Professor (Rikkyo University)
155. Welker, James, Professor (Kanagawa University)
156. Weth, Reinhard R., Government Director, retired ()
157. Wetzel, Michael, Professor of Media Studies Emeritus (University of Bonn)
158. Williams, John, Professor (Sophia University)
159. Winschermann, Toshi, M.A., Independent Scholar ()
160. Winther-Tamaki, Bert, Professor of Art History (University of California, Irvine)
161. Wittern, Christian, Professor (Kyoto University)
162. Wöhr, Ulrike, Professor (Hiroshima City University)
163. Yamada, Shoji, Professor (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)
164. Yamamoto-Masson, Nine, M.A., Researcher (University of Amsterdam)
165. Yasutake, Rumi, Dr. (Konan University)
166. Yokoo, Ayaka, M.A., Independent Scholar ()
167. Yonezawa, Yoko, Dr., Lecturer in Japanese (Victoria University of Wellington)
168. Yoshioka, Shiro, Dr., Lecturer in Japanese Studies (Newcastle University)
169. Zohar, Ayelet, Assoc. Professor of Art History (Tel Aviv University)
170. Zöllner, Reinhard, Professor of Japanese and Korean Studies (University of Bonn)

This statement represents the opinions only of those who have signed it and not of any organization or institution.

Japanese Translation | 日本語訳



German Translation | Deutsche Übersetzung

Erklärung zur Unterstützung der Künstler, Wissenschaftler und Journalisten Japans

Die Unterzeichneten sind zutiefst besorgt über die gegenwärtigen Bedrohungen der Meinungsfreiheit in Japan und fordern die japanische Regierung und alle ihre Behörden auf, die notwendigen Schritte zu unternehmen, um die in der japanischen Verfassung verankerten Rechte von Künstlern, Journalisten und Wissenschaftlern zu wahren . Insbesondere fordern wir die Agentur für kulturelle Angelegenheiten nachdrücklich auf, ihre Entscheidung, die Unterstützung für die Aichi-Triennale 2019 zurückzuziehen, zu widerrufen. Es kann nicht akzeptiert werden, dass in einer demokratischen und pluralistischen Gesellschaft Politik und Verwaltung populistischen Forderungen und sogar terroristischen Drohungen nachgeben, anstatt Kunst und Wissenschaft gegen die Feinde der Meinungsfreiheit zu verteidigen. Wir sind zutiefst besorgt darüber, dass das Vertrauen in japanische offizielle Institutionen inzwischen in einem Maße erschüttert wurde, das die Zusammenarbeit zwischen ausländischen Künstlern, Wissenschaftlern und Institutionen mit japanischen Regierungsinstitutionen gefährdet.
Wir fordern auch die japanische Regierung und die politischen Führer Japans nachdrücklich auf, ihren gesetzlichen Verpflichtungen nachzukommen, um Hassreden und jede andere verbale oder nonverbale Bedrohung des Geistes der internationalen Zusammenarbeit, Versöhnung und des Friedens zu bekämpfen.
Schließlich fordern wir die japanische Regierung und alle verantwortlichen Politiker nachdrücklich auf, allen Künstlern, Wissenschaftlern und Journalisten Japans bei ihrem Streben nach Meinungs- und Meinungsfreiheit uneingeschränkte und öffentliche Unterstützung zukommen zu lassen, um die freie und offene Diskussion politischer Fragen in Bezug auf Frieden und Völkerverständigung zu fördern sowie den Ruf Japans als sicherer Hafen von Freiheit, Vielfalt und Kreativität wiederherzustellen, welche die wahren Quellen des menschlichen Wachstums und der menschlichen Entwicklung sind.


On September 26, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, published its decision to withdraw all financial support from this year’s Aichi Triennale, one of the largest international art festivals in Japan. The decision was made after the exhibition displayed at the Triennale had to be closed down after only three days, on August 4, 2019, because violent threats including calls announcing acts of terrorism had been made to the Triennale office alleging that, among others, the display of a „comfort woman“ by a South Korean artist violated the feelings of the Japanese people. The mayor of Nagoya city demanded that public financial support be withdrawn from the Triennale. The Agency had originally consented to support the Triennale with 78 million Yen (c. 724,000 USD).
The Agency now claims that the organizers of the Triennale,
„with regard to the exhibition, despite recognizing important facts that threaten the safety of the exhibition hall, including visitors, and the smooth operation of the business received notification of the decision of eligibility [for support by the Agency] without declaring those facts. Even after submitting a grant application form, they did not declare these facts until they received an inquiry from the Agency for Cultural Affairs at the subsequent screening stage.“ (Source).
The Minister of Education has since denied that the (highly rare) decision to withdraw support was related to the contents of the exhibition and thus could qualify as an act of censorship. (Source)
However, the Governor of Aichi has called this decision „a grave violation of article 21 of the Japanese constitution“ which guarantees the freedom of expression, and has announced to take court action. (Source)
Japanese artists and media have also been highly critical of the Agency’s decision. The Asahi Shimbun commented that „internationally, it may invite distrust and contempt for Japanese cultural administration.“ (Source) The Mainichi Shimbun demanded that „political power should not be able to select exhibition contents and works through subsidy decisions.“ (Source)