MATSUE, SHIMANE PREF. – The Matsue education board decided Monday to retract its request to limit student access to the comic book “Hadashi no Gen” (“Barefoot Gen”) amid reports that sales of manga are soaring.
The board in the capital of Shimane Prefecture, had urged municipal elementary and junior high schools to restrict access to the comic book series about the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and require teacher authorization to read it, claiming the manga contained “extreme” scenes and language not suitable for youngsters.
Matsue’s move has reportedly been linked to scenes in the series depicting some of the atrocities Imperial Japanese troops committed overseas during the war, including in China and what is now South Korea. Today, Shimane Prefecture still lays claim to the South Korean-controlled Dokdo islets, which it calls Takeshima and celebrates each year.
The request to limit access came to light in mid-August when media reported that the board’s secretariat had made the request in December. The board has said the decision was made by the secretariat alone.
The series, penned by the late Keiji Nakazawa, who lost his father and siblings in the atomic bombing, depicts a Japanese boy who tries to survive after Hiroshima is flattened by the bomb. It is based on Nakazawa’s experience with the Aug. 6 event, which occurred when he was a 6-year-old heading to school.
Nakazawa died in December of lung cancer. He was 73.
A Matsue resident requested in August 2012 that the comic book series be banned from school libraries, but the city assembly rejected the request four months later.