By Jenny Murphy ’15
Libraries across the Tokyo area have reported that hundreds of copies of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Yong Girl and related books have been vandalized. The diary documents the life of Anne Frank and her family during Nazi occupation, and was published by her father af- ter her death. Humanitarian and Jewish rights groups around the U.S. have called for a probe in the situation, and Japanese police promised to begin an investigation in the mysterious vandalism.
At least 265 copies of the diary and Anne Frank relat- ed books have been reported vandalized in 31 libraries since January. Some libraries have even taken the copies off the shelves to protect them, although they can still be checked out, if asked, local news media has reported.
The BBC reports that Anne Frank’s diary is a fairly well-known book in Japan, listed as required reading in many school classes. And in terms of copies of the book sold, Japan is the second-highest in the world, beaten only by the U.S.
What makes the case even stranger is that anti-Sem- itism is not necessarily common in Japan. The Jewish population is miniscule, and there is very rarely be an article or book written by an extremist that denies the Holocaust happened or claims that a Jewish conspiracy theory was behind various historical events (as you find in several countries, if you look hard enough).
In general, the connection between Japan and the German atrocities to the Jewish population in Europe was minimal – at least small enough that a group of Japanese harboring resentment to Jewish people nearly eighty years later would be note-worthy.