The Matsue Municipal Education Committee has decided to pull Hadashi no Gen, or “Barefoot Gen,” off the city’s primary school libraries. The famous manga depicts how atomic bomb survivors faced the aftermath of the war, but the Committee finds the reality of the story too violent for young children. The manga can still be viewed, although only upon request. It was also said that borrowing the manga will no longer be allowed for children.
“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,” said the education committee’s Deputy-Head Furukawa Yasunori. “Barefoot Gen” was created in the early 1970s, based on the experiences of manga artist Keiji Nakazawa, who was 7 years old at the time of the Hiroshima bombing. The book is unrestrained in depicting the aftermath of the horrific explosion. Scenes of people with their skin rotting and falling off their bodies are shown, while others are seen dismembered.
The decision of Matsue Municipal Education Committee came last December following a complaint on the manga’s description of the war and the post-Hiroshima bombing. A number of conservative Japanese still deny the carnage of Japan during the Second World War. “Children would gain a wrong perception of history because the work describes atrocities by Japanese troops that did not take place,” claimed the complaint. The manga was not shy of showing what Japanese society was like during the war.
Netizens who have heard of the committee’s decision expressed their disapproval. Others suspect that the children nowadays are being raised in a protective environment, while someone wondered if “Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture wants to educate children to accept nuclear weapons.” Besides the unreserved graphics of “Barefoot Gen,” the message of the manga is also heavily anti-war, even against the superiority complex of Imperial Japan.
[via Robot 6]