MATSUE--Faced with a flood of protests, the municipal education board here on Aug. 26 retracted its request for schools to restrict children’s access to “Hadashi no Gen” (Barefoot Gen), a famed comic book that depicts the miseries of war centered around the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The board, after a meeting of its members, overturned its earlier policy and agreed to allow each public elementary and junior high school to decide whether children should be allowed to read the manga without restrictions.
The board came under fire earlier this month following news reports that children in municipal-run schools can only read “Hadashi no Gen” on a request basis after copies were removed from school libraries following the board’s decision. Children cannot check out copies.
The manga series, created by Keiji Nakazawa, was available at about 80 percent of the 35 municipal elementary and 17 junior high schools in the capital city of Shimane Prefecture.
The board requested school principals at a meeting in December to restrict children’s access to the manga, citing graphic depictions of brutalities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army troops.
With varying responses from the schools, the board raised the issue again at a meeting in January to get them to toe the line.
The decision to restrict access was made by board’s secretariat. However, the secretariat did not report its decision to board members.
The Matsue municipal government said it was inundated with complaints from the public. As of Aug. 22, it said it had received 722 telephone calls, 1,614 e-mails, 140 faxes and 60 letters.
Of these, about 1,800 were opposed to the board’s direction.
The request to limit access came after a citizen filed a petition with the municipal assembly in August last year to remove copies from school libraries.
The petition argued that children will have a wrong perception of history after reading the manga. The citizen who filed the petition believes the manga series describes incidents that did not actually occur.
The comic has sold 6.5 million copies and been translated into 20 or so languages. The Japanese government distributed its English-language version to drum up support for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts.
* * *
- « Prev
- Next »