Matsue education board restricts 'Barefoot Gen'

SHIMANE - The Matsue City Board of Education has called on the city's public primary and middle schools to place the manga "Hadashi no Gen" (Barefoot Gen) on "closed shelves" in libraries to limit students' access to the book due to some violent scenes, it has been learned.

"Hadashi no Gen" is a manga series by Keiji Nakazawa about a boy who survives the 1945 US atomic bombing in Hiroshima.

The board asked the 49 public schools to limit students' access to the manga so that it can only be viewed with permission from teachers, sources said.

"I've never heard of such a thing," said an Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry official.

According to the board, 39 primary and middle schools in the city kept the book at their libraries as of last school year.

Some citizens called for the city to remove the manga from school libraries as it depicts such scenes as a beheading by a Japanese Imperial Army soldier and a woman being sexually assaulted.

In response to the requests, the board said it asked all the public schools in December to place the book on closed shelves.

"This manga is a very valuable piece of work. However, we also think some of the content is unsuitable for children from an educational point of view. When the book is used to learn about peace, teachers should make appropriate comments," said Yasunori Furukawa, deputy head of the education board.

Chobunsha Publishing Co. President Kazuyoshi Masakado said: "I want them to consider the essence of the manga rather than deem it extreme based on certain specific scenes. Mr. Nakazawa must be deeply saddened to learn about this in heaven."

Nakazawa died last year on Dec 19 at a hospital in Hiroshima.