Robot 6

‘Barefoot Gen’ removed from school library in Japan

Barefoot GenThe school board in the Japanese city of Matsue has restricted student access to Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, the autobiographical story of a six-year-old boy who survived the Hiroshima bombing.

The board ruled that the book will remain in elementary and junior high school libraries but only teachers will have access to it; students will not be allowed to check it out.

Barefoot Gen, which originally ran in Shonen Jump, a magazine for teenage boys, is based on Nakazawa’s own experiences; he was seven years old and on his way to school when the bomb was dropped, and the adult who was walking with him was burned to death on the spot, and his father, brother and sister were killed when their burning house collapsed on them.

The Matsue school board made its decision last December, after a complaint was filed with them alleging “Children would gain a wrong perception of history because the work describes atrocities by Japanese troops that did not take place.” Many Japanese nationalists deny that Japanese troops were involved in the Rape of Nanking or committed war crimes during World War II, such as the events depicted in the book. Nonetheless, the school board said its decision was based strictly on the level of violence in the books and not on the political nature of the complaint.

Barefoot Gen has been acclaimed worldwide, and it is included in the Hiroshima Public Schools’ peace education curriculum for elementary school students, although there have been calls for it to be removed from schools there as well.

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12 Comments

It’s sad to see this kind of stupidity exists over there as well.

This absolutely infuriates me. First off, it’s a good book that shouldn’t be censored. Second, as a Chinese-American, the Rape of Nanking is a pretty sensitive issue, so to have these Japanese Right-Wing Revisionists spread their lies pisses me off.

As terrible as this sort of Revisionism is – and it really is horrible – it is already extremely mainstream in Japan, unfortunately.

Oh Japan! Stay classy won’t you? Jeez, Japan. Just admit the bad stuff your soldiers stupidly did in WWII and move on. Its the 21st century already. The denial after all this time is beyond the joke.

Barefoot Gen is a masterpiece of an experience that no human being should ever have to go through again, and frankly its horrors deserve to be highlighted. Thing is some in Japan still have major issues with its past, that still it can’t admit where it did wrong, even after all these years is a really sad state of affairs. Its really just another day in Japan’s old guard agenda to censor/rewrite history taught to children, to hide much of what went on in WWII, so they can save face and push the cute anime sweetness positive Japan mask, we all eat up.

Once some of these ancient political peeps bend/indoctrinate a child’s mind at an early age, because of their group culture,many things are never questioned as would be done elsewhere. Add the proliferation of badly taught english programs in schools there, and kids are taught a edited version of WWII history. Can’t read/speak english, can’t really learn or question Japan’s taught view of WWII, even with the internet. Seems its easy to keep people ignorant through lack of english that keeps Japan alienated from others. Kudos to those cool good japanese people that buck the trend and are more open minded.

The rise of the nationalists over there isn’t helping things, because this decision looks like them pulling strings. Stuff might only change once all the old political guard die out.

I think a lot of the issue is that the old guard has already taught the new guard to act like them. Mostly through ignorance, though. A few years back my school had a Japanese exchange student who started sobbing in an Asian History class when she learned about the Rape of Nanking. She just had no idea that her country had ever done something so horrible.

I’m not sure that the lack of proper English education over there is done to help keep them ignorant, though. They basically just teach it in the exact same manner as all their other subjects, but that process just doesn’t fit learning a language so different from the native one.

The crimes of Japan in China and Korea during and prior to WWII were largely ignored by the victorious Allies, unlike the crimes of Nazi German. Without that international pressure Japan was able to get away with denying their crimes long enough for it to become official policy.

@MW: Hopefully the Japanese exchange student was just sobbing from shock at hearing about NanKing, and not because the teacher decided to shame her.

I’ve taught English in Japan before. I was out in the countryside, north of Tokyo, and the biggest obstacle there wasn’t poor English studies or unwillingness on the part of the students to learn (they were FANTASTIC students.) The issue was that they never had any reason to use/speak English after they got out of school. Much like someone who learns French or German in an American high school or college and then promptly forgets it after the class is over. English is not nearly as pervasive in Japanese culture as we think it is, especially outside of the big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. So for these kids, they learned English for the tests and would practice with me and the other English teacher, and then not use it in any practical setting after graduating. I also taught some adults English over there (in night classes), people who supposedly had English education in school themselves, and their English was terrible.

So, yes, if we’re counting on Japanese people in general to turn to English language versions of events, then there will be problems with them understanding it…

Well, now that’s terrible…

The South Korean government, by the way, is still lobbying for an official apology from Japan regarding these exact kinds of crimes during wartime. Korean culture agencies have produced pamphlets, educational seminars, and even animation programs about the use of “comfort women” during wartime and are actively working to build awareness of just this sort of thing.

@idmac I wasn’t there at the time, but I know there’s no chance the teacher was shaming her. She’s a Japanophile herself and – more importantly – a nice person.

I like ‘Barefoot Gen’(Hadashi no Gen) .
I’m Japanese . I live in Japan.

I dislike nationalism and nationalists .

We Japanese blamed City of Matsue . Because the city make a mistake decision.

Not every Japanese is nationalist .
I love world peace strongly . Many Japanese people loves world peace , too.

In these days , But I feel cloudy moods in Japan society .
I wish YOU root for Japanese good sense .

@hatosato2525

(sorry , poor English)

I learned by this book that the the United States killed innocent civilians by two atomic bombs.
Such genocide should not be repeated.

Chinese nationalism

August 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm

In addition to ‘Barefoot Gen’, we need another manga describing Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

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