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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 August 14 - 20  > Hibakusha voice anger over restriction on access to ‘Barefoot Gen’
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2013 August 14 - 20 TOP3 [ANTI-N-ARMS]

Hibakusha voice anger over restriction on access to ‘Barefoot Gen’

August 19, 2013
The Matsue City Board of Education has decided to restrict free viewing of “Barefoot Gen”, a cartoon story of Hiroshima, by public school students at their school libraries, provoking criticism from Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) and citizens.

“Barefoot Gen (Hadashino Gen in Japanese)” is a manga series by A-bomb survivor Nakazawa Keiji, who died December 2012, based on his experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The work has been translated into various languages, including English, French, and German.

The city education board at a meeting of the city principals’ association in December 2012 demanded that access to “Barefoot Gen” at school libraries be restricted on the grounds that the series contains vivid and brutal depictions.

A city survey shows that among 52 city-run elementary and junior high schools, 80% responded that their school library collection includes Nakazawa’s work.

An 83-year-old Hibakusha living in Shimane’s Matsue City angrily said, “The book accurately describes what happened in Hiroshima after the 1945 atomic bombing. It is really important to pass on to young people Hibakusha stories. Keeping them away from the book will prevent them from knowing the true history.”

Funaki Kenji, chair of a teachers’ union in Shimane Prefecture, said, “‘Gen’ is the story read by different generations in Japan and attracts many foreign readers. Teachers use the book as a material for teaching about peace. It should not need control over viewing and lending practices. We call on the city education commission to reverse its decision.”

The Japanese Communist Party also expressed its intention to urge the city board to reconsider its decision.
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