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Matsue City Rescinds Order to Remove Barefoot Gen Manga from Schools

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
School board cites procedural problems as reason to revoke ban

The Reuters news source is reporting on Monday that the education board in the southwestern Japanese city of Matsue has rescinded its order to remove copies of the late Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen manga from library shelves in primary and junior high schools.

The board said it made the new decision because of procedural problems with the way the order was originally given. The board added that the decisions of the individual schools in the city regarding access to the books should be respected. The board had conducted a survey with principals in 49 city schools, and the survey found that only five principals had said they saw a need to restrict access to the books.

Translator Dan Kanemitsu posted an opinion piece at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund on Monday regarding the ban.


The board decided last December to pull copies of the manga after a complaint was filed about the historical manga's depiction of violence used by the Imperial Japanese Army troops. The board eventually decided to remove the manga due to the graphic nature of the violence, not for the claimed historical inaccuracies. The removal would not have allowed students to check out the manga, but teachers still could have access to copies as educational materials.

Barefoot Gen first ran in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1973 and follows Gen Nakaoka, a character based on the author's own experiences. Nakazawa was six years old when the Hiroshima bombing killed his father, two sisters, and brother. The resulting 10 volumes of Barefoot Gen have since sold more than 10 million copies and have been translated in English, Russian, Korean, and many other languages.

The Hiroshima City Board of Education added Barefoot Gen to its schools' curriculum for third-year elementary school students last year as part of its "Peace Education Program." A group petitioned for the work to be dropped from the curriculum, asserting that it is a "one-sided portrayal."

Last Gasp Publishing republished the Barefoot Gen manga in North America. The story has been adapted into two animated films and a live-action television drama special in Japan. Producer Northrop Davis and a partner have been pitching the story to Hollywood studios.

[Via Robot 6]

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