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Back in 1998 a young comedian named Kentaro Kobayashi was building a career that led over the years through film, novels, manga and anime to his appointment as director of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony. It is interesting that in his novice phase he was drawn to the Holocaust as a source of humor, rather than to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an atrocity closer to home.

Interesting, too, that his high-spirited gag about “(trying) to play Holocaust with these human-shaped papers for a kids’ TV show” apparently aroused no outrage at the time — or for decades afterward. Standards are changing, perhaps.

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