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LEADING JAPANESE COMPANIES CANCEL SPONSORSHIP OF ´SHAHEED 100 LIVES´ EXHIBIT (SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER) 09/04/03) Source: http://www.wiesenthal.org/social/press/pr_item.cfm?ItemID=8135
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The foundations of two prominent Japanese companies (Kao and POLA) have cancelled their sponsorship of the controversial ´Shaheed-100 Lives´ exhibit after protests from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other concerned activists. In a letter to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Masatoshi Kitahara, executive director of the Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences, responded to the Wiesenthal Center protest after the latest suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem left scores of Israeli children and their parents dead or wounded.
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The ´Shaheed-100 Lives´ exhibit showcases 100 personal photographs and objects belonging to the first 100 shaheed (martyrs) of the Intifada, which started in September 2001. The Wiesenthal Center protested that the term ´shaheed´ is applied by many Palestinians to include suicide bombers and terrorists. The Kao Foundation response read in part, "We were alerted to the suggested meaning of ´shaheed´ only upon receiving your fax message* we have decided to withdraw our sponsorship and have notified the exhibition organizers of our decision to do so. We have no intention of supporting an exhibition that may convey any form of political message." A similar letter was released by Takao Miura, secretary general of the POLA Art Foundation on September 2nd.
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In a related development, The Japan Foundation wrote to the Wiesenthal Center that the Foundation´s contribution to the project was limited to bringing the curator from the Middle East and that "the Foundation´s support for the project has been completed." In his letter, the president of The Japan Foundation, Hiroaki Fujii, wrote, "As the government of Japan has been stating consistently, terrorism cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. It is a detestable act, which undermines great efforts made by peoples of the world who seek peace. Upholding this view, The Japan Foundation deeply sympathizes with victims of terrorism and their families and it adamantly opposes activities that express tolerance for terrorism."
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"As an international NGO, the Wiesenthal Center believes that non- governmental agencies, companies, and private citizens have a right and obligation to make positive contributions towards peace and tolerance. We are satisfied that these prestigious Japanese institutions have taken the necessary steps to remove any implication of support for those who would venerate and promote terrorism and violence," said Rabbi Cooper.
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The Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
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For more information, contact the Wiesenthal Center´s Public Relations Department at (310) 553-9036. (© Copyright 2003, Simon Wiesenthal Center 09/04/03)
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