Shimane school board bows to outcry, drops curbs on anti-war comic


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

"Besides its stark depiction of the aftermath of the bombing, the 10-volume manga illustrates atrocities by Japanese soldiers in Asia - drawings some thought were too graphic for children". As I've posted a couple days ago, no sugar coating is necessary.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This must be a real kick in the teeth to the people who want to portray Japan as the poor victim during WW2.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Banning this in schools is the most SURE-FIRE way to make absolutely certain it gets read!

Good stuff Shimane!

Hope other prefectures follow suit.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have never viewed this manga. But if children's exposure to the imagery that is described as "graphic" is what keeps the Japanese people so anti-war, then I am all for it. I can think of children protected from anything "graphic" who grow up to be war hungry loons, so Japan must be doing something right.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Thanks for the leadership, Shimane!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First Anime high school girls and underwear on tanks. Then a couple of days of TV showcasing the live firing exercise by the JSDF. Now I read about this. Anyone see a trend beginning to play out?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Procedural problems".......... heh.................

Just admit directly that it was a mistake.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

drawings some thought were too graphic for children.

Go into book off and read some of the manga's there, compared to barefoot gen, there are some violent manga out there,

4 ( +4 / -0 )

what's all the hub bub? the superintendent was restricting access to children under high school age because the novel was too graphic. High school students were still allowed to view the material. It's like a PG13 rating for a movie. no big deal.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Excellent. No amount of whitewashing campaigns can stop descendants of the race which was responsible for instigating the war, from speaking the truth so future generations can learn and live in harmony.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Well I don't really see what the big deal is honestly, if it is really that graphic, then Primary School students should definitely not have school-sanctioned access to it.. Once they're in High School, then it should be made available if it has any educational value.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good news for everyone in the long run I think.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I like it when people speak out and authorities listen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Don't let your guard down, this is only the beginning. The chicken hawks will learn as they go along and will try try other methods when their agenda is curtailed. The disturbing thing is that it was the school board that tried this; the same people who are usually negligent of school bullying and the resulting suicides. If we get to the point of book burnings and censorship then we're too late.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The sad thing is, many of the depictions of Japanese occupations and aggression during WW2 in high school textbooks are far removed from the truth, hence the desire to sanction this book. It has very little to do with the graphic violent content. There are much worse graphic manga available to kids. The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow for the Japanese right-wing imperialistic bureaucrats.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Bravo and bravo again to the Matsue City Board of Education for rethinking their decision to bow to the demands of a painfully small but vocal group of nationalist thugs who make annual trips to haunt and clog the streets of Matsue with their black vans and general ass-hattery.

But shame on the Matsue BOE for even giving in to this silliness in the first place.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Dennis BauerAug. 27, 2013 - 09:18AM JST Go into book off and read some of the manga's there, compared to barefoot gen, there are some violent manga out there,

Yes, but the difference is that those manga are pure fantasy, and many of them carry age restrictions. So now historical subjects can't be age restricted? How would you feel about letting your kid watch the TV series "Rome" or "Spartacus"? They're just not appropriate for kids.

... I'm sure that if there was so much as a single woman's nipple visible in the manga those from the U.S. would be yelling for the obscene pornography to be banned from schools... but because U.S. culture is very permissive of violence you're all behind unrestricted access to this manga. I think your cultural biases are showing.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

rickyvee (et al),

"what's all the hub bub? the superintendent was restricting access to children under high school age because the novel was too graphic."

The hubbub is that the books weren't restricted strictly because of graphic content. That was the tatemae explanation given to mitigate the actual reason.

They were banned because an ultranationalist filed (yes, one person) an official objection to the Matsue Board of Education stating that the story contained in Barefoot Gen was largely fictional and that it was wrong to present fiction as fact to the children of Matsue. In particular, the complaint centered on Japan's culpability during the War in Greater East Asia. The complainant felt Japan was a victim in the war and that stories of the Japanese military's more notorious escapades were fabrications created by the victors in the war.

Which most historians would agree is simply not that clear-cut a distillation of what actually happened.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


the manga were still accessible to older kids and with permission from a teacher.

The superintendent had instructed elementary and middle schools to take the manga off library shelves and not allow students to read it without a teacher’s permission.

furthermore, this was one school district in one prefecture in japan. so the media are making it sound a lot worse than it is.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

rickyvee: "furthermore, this was one school district in one prefecture in japan. so the media are making it sound a lot worse than it is."

No, it is an example of a growing trend, and one that is growing far, far too quickly. The media and the public making a big deal of it, which I agree with in this case, has helped the Matsue school board bow down, and bow down pretty quickly. I have no doubt they'll try again before too long, when more of Abe's rightist wishes have their footholds.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

This must be a real kick in the teeth to the people who want to portray Japan as the poor victim during WW2.

If people were to say the people of Japan were the only victims, that would be ridiculous.

But there plenty of people in Japan who didn't want the war. Some of them died in jail protesting it.

But don't truth detract you from your anti-Japan agenda.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


I'm not disputing that these books were restricted to older readers. I'm telling you what the real impetus was for the removal of the books. This aspect was reported on in the national news outlet Asahi Shimbun. And that aspect was nationalistic in origin.

A local resident was unhappy with the depiction of the Japanese Imperial Army in the books and demanded that they be removed from the shelves of public junior high schools, which happen to be administered at the city level. This point is important because while the books may have been made available to high-school aged children or older, this is largely because high schools are administered at the prefectural level, barring the Matsue Board of Education from making any determination what high school students can or cannot read.

This also isn't an isolated event. As a result of the furor over "Barefoot Gen" in Matsue, it was revealed that Tottori City in neighboring Tottori Prefecture, had quietly placed "Barefoot Gen" in a reserved section of the library in response to similar complaints from a solitary individual.

The "hubbub" is that a citizen demanded that the Matsue Board of Education be complicit in censorship. And the Matsue BOE complied.

A bright light in all of this is that some 6,000 parents petitioned the Matsue City government in the space of two days to have "Barefoot Gen" put back on the shelves. And it worked. Tottori City, also at the behest of concerned parents, just this week put "Barefoot Gen" back into the manga corner of the local library.

And ss BernieWooster pointed out accurately, the controversy has stoked a renewed interest in this seminal comic series, something that's desperately needed in the current Shinzo "The Imperial Japanese Army Wasn't All That Bad" Abe-led revisionist climate in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am pretty sure all school boards in all other pr3efectures were laughing at the first Matsue decision when 1st news was released. This manga collection can help burdensome teaching of WW I I history teachings in any Rekiishi classes in schools.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Went into book-off today and they didn't have a single copy left! It is a truly great anti-war comic that strips away all the haughty veneer of ultra-nationalism, exposing its consistent historical failure and exposing its policies as a sham based on motivation of citizens through hatred. This was an important victory as it was a test case in the continuing fight against the increasing resurgence of idea that this kind of fascism can put Japan back on its feet again. Just ask Aso Taro, Japan's deputy prime minister, who just a few weeks ago was eager to praise some of the benefits of Hitler's policies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For parents, it will be hard to hide this manga books in their home as they could be reading this manga books., Also, it is difficult to monitor what kind of TV programs their children are watching. Maybe they want their children learn from mangas than them to explain as the parents themselves couldn't be old and know WW I I time stories.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


The right-winger wanted the manga completely removed from the library, and the compromise was that they would be restricted. it's a win-win for everyone actually because he (I'm assuming) believes he accomplished something while kids still had access to the manga if they had permission from their parents.

my point is that the press made it seem as though there was a complete ban on this manga, but that wasn't the case at all. Kids of all ages still had access to it, although with a caveat.

Just because something is historically accurate doesn't mean that it's appropriate for all ages. even Schindler's List is rated R. So I think the school board made the best out of a bad situation, regardless if it was tatemae or not.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Rickyvee: do you really feel this is inappropriate for a JHS library? It has been appropriate for 40 years. It does not just suddenly become inappropriate.

The book is a classic, read by nearly everyone. You do not just start to censor it at the behest of an individual.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


Any efforts by the Matsue BOE to aquiesce with the complainant were viewed by the general public as an attempt to censor the material. There is a significant percentage of the population in Matsue City that wants very much to ensure its children are not left blinded to the horrors of war, particularly the last one Japan found itself in. And if do so involves allowing unfettered access to "Hadashi no Gen," then so be it.

Any issues regarding excessive depictions of violence in the manga are entirely moot when one considers the amount of violence freely available to elementary and junior high school-aged children the the comic book shelf in any convenience store or book store across Japan, and to cast it in that light, as if depictions of factual horrors attached to a moral message are somehow more deserving of restricted access than, say, GANTZ, is missing the point entirely and not just a little bit mypic.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@rickyvee II don't think Matsuye BOE is controlled by right-wing. It just did bad decision and decided not to use that decision. Do you have any data about relationship between right wing and Matsue BOE to your claim?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites