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Israel to donate Anne Frank books to Tokyo libraries after vandalism of copies

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 - 5:05pm IST | Place: TOKYO | Agency: AFP
Hundreds of copies of Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" were found torn in libraries in many parts of Japan's capital last week.
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The Israeli embassy in Japan said on Wednesday it would donate 300 copies of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl to Tokyo libraries after hundreds of copies were damaged.

Scores of copies of Anne Frank's book kept in public libraries across Tokyo were vandalised, officials said on February 21. Pages in at least 250 copies of the diary, or publications containing biographies on Anne Frank, Nazi persecution of Jews and related materials were torn, the council of public libraries in the capital said. Local media have put the figure at 308.

News of the defacement of the books, which tells the tale of a young Jewish girl who fell victim to the Holocaust, sent shockwaves worldwide and sparked alarm amid a rightward shift in Japan's politics.

The embassy and the Jewish Community of Japan will present the copies on Thursday to the capital's residential ward of Suginami, whose libraries were a main target of the vandalism, embassy officials said. "We have offered the donation that can make up for the copies damaged," the embassy said in a statement. "Her diary is useful to deepen understanding of humanitarian views concerning the Holocaust and related incidents," it said. "We believe that the people who took the hideous action will be brought to justice."

A total of 121 books were damaged at 11 of 13 public libraries in Suginami, a library official said.

"It was sad to see the books torn," said Toshihiro Obayashi, deputy director of the central library in the Suginami area. "But we are pleased to receive a warm offer that encourages us.".

The diary, written by a Jewish girl who lived in Amsterdam during the time of the Holocaust, was added to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) Memory of the World Register in 2009.

Anne Frank, a German Jew born in Frankfurt in 1929, documented her family's experiences hiding in concealed rooms during the German occupation of the Netherlands where they settled in 1933. They were caught and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Anne and her sister died of typhus in 1945.

The vandalism spree comes amid criticism of a rightwards shift in Japanese politics under nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with a recent volley of provocative comments about Japan's wartime past that have sparked accusations of revisionism by China and South Korea.

Largely homogenous Japan does not have a very big Jewish community, with the vast majority of people believing in an admixture of imported Buddhism and indigenous Shintoism.

In 1995, a Japanese physician was censured by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Israeli embassy for writing in a domestic monthly magazine that the gas chambers Nazis used to exterminate Jews in concentration camps did not exist. The publisher of the magazine "Marco Polo" discontinued its publication and fired its editor


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