Rally held against govt. decision on art festival

A rally has been held in Tokyo to protest the cultural affairs agency's decision to withhold subsidies for an international art festival.

The agency last week canceled subsides of about 720,000 dollars for "Aichi Triennale," which is underway in the central prefecture of Aichi.

The festival includes a controversial exhibition about freedom of expression. It's cancellation sparked debate about the relationship between politics and art.

The organizers of the rally say more than 200 artists, including those who contributed their works to the event, gathered in front of the agency on Monday evening.

The agency cited a procedural flaw with the prefecture's application.

One of the exhibitions was canceled after threats were made about some of the works on display, including a statue symbolizing those referred to as wartime comfort women.

During the rally, participants demanded the decision be retracted, chanting "Stop bullying art," and "Protect art."

An art university student said he feels the decision might amount to indirect censorship, and that it could make artists afraid.

Culture Minister Koichi Hagiuda said the agency has not been involved in determining what kind of works can be displayed in the event.

Aichi Prefecture officials are aiming to resume the suspended exhibition as early as October 6 after taking necessary measures.