comfort woman statue
© Reuters / Kim Hong-Ji
A statue symbolizing "comfort women" is seen during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea. December 2015.
A director who is being sued after making a film about the sexual slavery of Korean women by the Japanese Army during WWII told RT that these attacks damage free speech and muzzle discussion about this sensitive issue.

The lawsuit is a clear example of attacking freedom of speech, filmmaker Miki Dezaki told RT.
My film - if it gets silenced or taken down, or they prevent [its] bigger distribution, this [will be] another hit at freedom of expression in Japan.
"These little digs at the freedom of expression make it really hard for the media and people in general to talk" about sensitive historical topics, the director said.

A recent graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo, Dezaki made a film exploring different views on the 'comfort women' who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during WWII. Up to 200,000 women are believed to have been rounded up and placed in army-run brothels to serve Japanese soldiers. Most victims came from Korea, which was a Japanese colony at the time.

Dezaki is being sued by several Japanese conservative figures who he interviewed for the film. Among the plaintiffs are education professor Nobukatsu Fujioka and journalist Yoshiko Sakurai, who deny that comfort women were taken into sexual slavery and that it was a war crime committed by Japan. They claim they did not give Dezaki permission to use their words in the documentary. They also accuse Dezaki of taking their comments out of context and profiting from screening the film.

The filmmaker maintains that he has presented the views of both sides fairly. The attacks against the documentary are aimed at muzzling the discussion, he said. Attempts to take down the film create a situation in which "powerful people" can say whatever they want, while "people who have an opposing opinion can't say anything," Dezaki told RT.

In 1993, Japan formally apologized to South Korea for forcing Korean women to work in wartime brothels. Nevertheless, some conservative politicians, historians, and writers continue to deny Japan's culpability in the matter, and the issue remains a point of contention between Seoul and Tokyo.

The Japanese government has repeatedly demanded that Korea remove statues in honor of the comfort women that were placed in front of Japanese embassies and consulates. Korea has refused to do so.