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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 August 21 - 27  > Civil groups protest against restrictions on student access to ‘Barefoot Gen’
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2013 August 21 - 27 [EDUCATION]

Civil groups protest against restrictions on student access to ‘Barefoot Gen’

August 22, 2013
Civil groups and a teachers’ union in Shimane Prefecture demanded on August 21 that the Matsue City Board of Education retract its request to municipal primary and junior high schools to impose restrictions on free access to “Barefoot Gen”, the manga series about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, in school libraries.

That day, representatives of civil organizations visited the city office, including the Matsue Branch of the New Japan Women’s Association, the prefectural association against constitutional revision, the Shimane Prefectural Council against A and H Bombs, and the Shimane Peace Committee.

The representatives conveyed to a deputy chair of the education board, “Children who read ‘Barefoot Gen’ said that they were able to learn about the hardships of war. We want public schools to continue teaching students about the importance of peace through educational works such as this manga series.” A mother accompanied by her children said, “I’m angry that a handful of people made a decision behind closed doors and have kept the books away from pupils. Children can cultivate understanding and think on their own through learning the truth.”

On the same day, the Shimane Prefectural Teachers and Staff Union submitted to the education commission a written opinion seeking the withdrawal of the access limitation. Citing the declaration on freedom of libraries, the opinion states that children should be guaranteed the right to have access to and read books without undue restrictions in school libraries.

*****

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide on August 21 said at a press conference that the city education board has the authority to put a limit on free access to some books in public school libraries. Education Minister Shimomura Hakubun also expressed a similar view.

The view of the two ministers not only approves the infringement of freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution, but justifies the authorities’ censorship.
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