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In March 1937, an official in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Azusa Hiraoka, traveled to Europe on government business and acquired some guides to Italian museums.

Prudishly fearing, however, that his 12-year-old son might be exposed to the depictions of female nudes contained within, he hid the books in a closet in the family home in Tokyo. One day, his son Kimitake — a bright, fragile boy — was off school sick and discovered the books.

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