Claiming it contains too many violent images, the education board of Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, has asked all its public elementary and junior high schools to limit pupils' access to "Hadashi no Gen" ("Barefoot Gen"), the manga series by the late Keiji Nakazawa that depicts the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

According to the board, Friday's decision was based on the view that the comic book series, which details the life of a 6-year-old boy named Gen before and after the city was bombed, contains images that are too strong, such as decapitations and rape.

The schools were asked verbally to lock the series away last December, the board said, and to only permit browsing with a teacher's permission. The books can't be removed from the schools.

"The work itself has significant value, but some of the expressions are questionable for children who are in their developmental stage," said Yasunori Furukawa, vice chairman of the Matsue education board.

Last August, residents petitioned the city council to remove "Hadashi no Gen" from school libraries, questioning the historic view of the work. Although the petition was not adopted, the board mulled how to handle the series based on some members' claims that the comic contains extreme writings and drawings.