Famous Anti-War Manga Removed From City’s School Libraries

A scene from the manga "Barefoot Gen", showing a mother and baby trying to escape the suffering of the atomic bomb.

A scene from the manga “Barefoot Gen”, showing a mother and baby trying to escape the suffering of the atomic bomb.

The biggest story of the day today was the news that the Matsue municipal education committee were to prevent the renowned manga Barefoot Gen, which portrays the horrific realities of Japan after the atom bomb, from being on free-access selves in libraries at elementary schools in the city.

The manga is to be taken off library shelves and put away so that it can only be viewed on request, while borrowing the manga will not be permitted.

The education committee claim that some of the scenes in the manga are not suitable for younger children, given some of the harrowing ordeals faced by the characters in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima; but netizens argue that the realities of war and the facts of Japan’s past are precisely what children should be taught.

From 47 News:

Manga “Barefoot Gen” To Be Placed On “Closed Shelves”: Matsue City Education Committee Has “Doubts About Content”

On August 16, it was discovered that the Matsue Municipal Education Committee had requested that all elementary schools in the city take measures to place the manga “Barefoot Gen”, which depicts the misery of the atomic bombs, on “closed shelves” where children cannot browse it freely.

According to the Committee, because the manga features scenes of beheadings and the rape of women, they made an oral appeal to the schools last year. Consequently, each school took measures so that a teacher’s permission was necessary to browse the manga, and so that borrowing was forbidden.

Furukawa Yasunori, deputy-head of the education committee explained that “I think that the manga in itself is a highly-valued piece of work. However, we still have some doubts as to whether some of the content is suitable for a child in a developmental stage”.

From Facebook:

Kuwada Hirohiko:

Umm, I read “Barefoot Gen” when I was in elementary school. But that’s how education today is, averting people’s eyes from reality.

Masanori Yoshida :

What on earth…Precisely because even parents today have no proper sense of these things that we need materials for children that they can seem themselves and understand.

Kunihiko Toyoba:

When I was a child, my mother got the entire series, plonked it before me, and just told me “READ THIS!” I even wrote a book report about it back then. I’ve got all the books back home, so someday I’ll have to make the kids read it.

Ryuko Kamoshita:

I guess if you’re an elementary school student then it might be a bit traumatic…I haven’t read it in a long while so I’ve forgotten the details, but I really think that once you’re a little bit older and in middle school you should read it. They even sell the translated version in France.

Mari Matsumoto:

Isn’t one of the purposes of education to experience these things through looking and reading? This manga is not for amusement. It’s Japan’s history.

Hideomi Nakatsugawa:

Hide. Don’t show. Cover Up.
What’s going to happen, bringing up kids in this over-protective way, where they take the kids for fools and think it’s better for them to grow up innocent?
Is it really ok for the education committee to bring up children to be like little bonsai trees instead of raising them into adults?
By telling them how things really are, children can learn about joy and pain and all the inconsistencies of life.
Then they can grow up to become strong, kind-hearted adults.
I think that the most important thing in education is to create adults who can think and act of their own accord.

Syuu Yoneka:

I saw the movie version of the manga when I was in middle school. Most of this wasn’t shown in the film, but I think that expressing the misery, irrationality and cruelty of war really was necessary in order to show the historical backdrop of those times. War is not whitewashed in the books. This manga is so meaningful for the very reason that it depicts the experiences of the author. To try to restrict borrowing is in itself nonsensical.

渡辺晃一 :

Certainly it has that kind of content, but will it really be beneficial to future generations if we avert their eyes from the realities of the past?

Syunmyou Nomura:

The very purpose of a library is that it’s a place where you can choose what to read, why reduce the breadth of choice?
I don’t know what age these children who are still in a developmental stage are reading the manga, but I read it when I was in year 5 of elementary school [age 10-11].

Kenichi Kawamura:

I wonder if this is because Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture wants to educate children to accept nuclear weapons?

Comments from Twitter:



So now this, after that thing with the Ghibli movie the other day! So the LDP really are moving to suppress free speech, huh? Abe’s sweeping criticism technique is going into overdrive.


Isn’t the point of a manga like that to casually pick it up to read and then get traumatised?


So it was my school who showed me things that had an influence on my development? So it’s all because of them that I could become a public official and then retire to a lucrative private position?


Well I have doubts about the judgement of the education committee. What is necessary for the emotional development of kids then?


This is awful.

松永大樹(天国に一番近い男 ):

Japan is probably going to degenerate starting with Shimane Prefecture.


No, this actually something that we should be showing children. Are these people stupid?

Shimizu Hideo:

This? I can’t believe it. The only think I can think is that they must be crazy.


So the people who decided this in the education committee never came across “Barefoot Gen” when they were kids? It’s because of how scary some of the things in that manga are that we have to educate our children about it.

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