Living Questions Mural
Location: Takeo, Saga Prefecture, Japan. Mixed media. 2022. During World War II, thousands of Korean and Chinese slaves and Allied prisoners of war were forced by Mitsui company to work in Mitsui Miike Coal Mines throughout Ōmuta and Arao. As a result, many were severely injured due to neglect, accidents, and abuse, and some lost their lives. The trauma of being forced into corporate slavery has been passed down generation after generation, and yet there is only a small mention of the major contributions the enslaved Korean, Chinese and Allied prisoners made toward keeping Mitsui company alive during the war.
During the same period of time, the United States issued executive order 9066, forcing all immigrants and Americans of Japanese ancestry to relocate to concentration camps across the West Coast. The justification on paper was to prevent spying. As a result of this mass displacement and incarceration, many people lost their homes, businesses, belongings and communities. When World War II ended, everyone placed in concentration camps were forced to restart their lives, often with nowhere to go and no resources.
Living Questions is a visual examination of the moral gray areas between corporate slavery and preventative confinement in the United States and Japan from an anti-capitalist perspective. What incarceration practices and justifications of slavery or sub-human status do both countries share? What role does fear play in justifying violence and abuse? Who is allowed to be included in history and why? Who are the unseen victims of industrialization or progress? What are the justifications for tolerating corporate abuses of power over people?