Shueisha Inc. said Wednesday it will halt publication of a “manga” comic featuring the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 in response to complaints by Japanese politicians who claim the slaughter never happened.

The comic series “Kuni ga Moeru” (“The Country is Burning”), authored by popular comic writer Hiroshi Motomiya, is a fictional tale about a bureaucrat in the turbulent times of the early Showa Era (1926-1989).

Publication of the series, which has been carried in Weekly Young Jump magazine since November 2002, will be temporarily suspended from the Oct. 28 edition. Weekly Young Jump is popular among Japanese men.

In the magazine’s Sept. 16 and Sept. 22 editions, the comic described Japanese soldiers massacring civilians in Nanjing, China.

Thirty-seven members of local assemblies protested to the publisher on Oct. 5, saying the massacre was presented as if it really happened. They say the story deliberately distorted history by using a photo whose authenticity they claim cannot be confirmed.

According to the assembly members, there is strong evidence that the massacre never happened and that there is no proof that it did.

A Shueisha representative said: “Some people say the photo used for reference in the drawing cannot be authenticated. It was inappropriate to use such material.”

“The parts related to the use of the photo as pointed out will be edited or deleted when the comic book is published,” Shueisha said in reply to the complaint.

The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal concluded that more than 140,000 people were killed. Some Chinese historians put the death toll at 300,000 in Nanjing alone. Japanese accounts vary from several thousand to 200,000 dead.

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