Japanese Education Board Restricts Seminal World War II Manga

Thanks to a new report from Japan, the anime fandom has turned its eye to Hiroshima. The city is drawing headlines right now as its Board of Education chose to ban one of manga's most important takes on World War II. A recent motion by board members banned Barefoot Gen from a number of schools in Hiroshima, but now parents are pushing back on the decision.

The report comes from Yahoo Japan as it was there Hiroshima's Board of Education had its manga ban broken down. As it turns out, the board chose to ban Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa from its curriculum on war and peace. According to the report, local educators supported the ban as they said scenes from Nakazawa's manga could "create a misunderstanding" with kids.

In particular, the scene pointed out by the board from Barefoot Gen has nothing to do with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Instead, it is about a scene between Gen and his friends. The board took offense to a portion of the manga where the kids steal a koi fish from a rich neighbor's yard to feed themselves and their pregnant caregiver. This is the scene educators felt would confuse kids, so the Board of Education chose to remove Barefoot Gen from its curriculum.

Given the manga's seminal nature, parents and locals in Hiroshima are pushing back on the ban. A group in the city collected over 55,000 signatures in support of the manga and handed the letter to the Board of Education in hopes the ban would be overturned. At this point in time, no word has been given on whether the board members will reexamine the situation.

This is not the first time Barefoot Gen has been subjected to a ban because of its contents. Nakazawa's manga is loosely based on his own experiences as a Hiroshima survivor as he was a child in the city during World War II. Despite some fictionalization, Barefoot Gen has been compared to stories like Maus thanks to its unflinching take on war and the Hiroshima bombing. However, officials in Matsue restricted Barefoot Gen in schools in 2012 before the move was walked back a year later. Now, the city of Hiroshima itself has made moves to restrict Barefoot Gen, leaving locals and historians alike surprised. 

What do you make of this latest manga ban? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.

HT – Unseen Japan