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Japan Studies guest speaker denied U.S. visa for conference

November 17, 2015

A guest speaker for the UW Japan Studies program and the Simpson Center for the Humanities was denied a visa to speak at a three-day conference on Socially Engaged Art in Japan, according to a press release from the Simpson Center.

Fram Kitagawa, a Japanese curator who espouses art’s return to slow, rural values as opposed to urban, market systems, planned to deliver a video address on Nov. 12 for the event. His original keynote was presented by Justin Jesty, an assistant professor of Asian Languages & Literature who teaches for the Japan Studies program.

The story was picked up by arts critic Jen Graves and was published in The Stranger.

According to Kitagawa, he was denied a visa by U.S. authorities because of his involvement more than 45 years ago in protests against a U.S. military base expansion in Sunagawa. He was never prosecuted or convicted of any crime. He supplied documents to the embassy prepared by Japan’s Ministry of Justice and the head of the National Police attesting to his innocence, but he was still refused a visa, according to Jesty.