Investigators are looking into several cases of vandalism to copies of Anne Frank’s diary, and other books about her life in public libraries in Tokyo, Japan. To date it has been recorded that 265 books about Frank have been vandalized in over 30 public libraries in Tokyo. While a motive has yet to be discovered, Japanese law enforcement is researching the events in hopes to discover why Anne Frank’s diary is being defaced in Japanese libraries as a public hate-crime, and what can be done to stop it.
The Diary of Anne Frank, first published in Dutch in 1947 chronicles the experience of Anne Frank, a Jewish 15 year-old and her family as they hid for months in an attic to escape a cruel, horrific fate in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Since it’s 1947 publication, The Diary of Anne Frank has been published in more than 60 countries and translated into at least 70 different languages. This tragic tale has also been recreated as a play and a major motion picture. This book has been a primary historical artifact and educational tool, and an internationally cherished piece of literature.
This act of vandalism and racism was first discovered in early January of 2014, as librarians in parts of Tokyo including Suginami and Nakano, were noticing torn and missing pages in books about the young Holocaust victim, and even copies of her diary. The damage that has been done to many of these books have left several of the copies further unusable. As a means to protecting these precious historical tomes, many libraries in Tokyo have temporarily pulled the books from their shelves where they can still be checked out, but are otherwise under supervision.
Due to the relative closeness and frequency of these disturbing crimes in which Anne Frank’s diary was defaced in Japanese libraries as a public hate crime, Japanese authorities are speculating that this is not a mere coincidence, and that the criminals are aiming to send a negative racial and political message promoting Holocaust denial. While the Japanese as a whole do not value anti-Semetic beliefs or advocate for Holocaust denial, there have been some published opinions in Japanese magazines and books denying that the Holocaust was an event and that it was simply a conspiracy.
This crime has come as a shock to many Holocaust organizations and has raised international concerns. Representatives from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam have reacted to this crime with surprise, including the museum’s director, Robert Leopold. He has spoken out expressing his disappointment and confusion regarding this crime, as it has been recorded that thousands of Japanese travelers make a trip to the museum annually and are highly interested and reverent concerning the young girl and her tragic life. This hate crime also has representatives from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights advocacy organization based out of Los Angeles, requesting that swift action and investigation by Japanese authorities be carried out to find the criminals, motive and put an end to the acts of bigotry.
Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan has publicly expressed his concerns about this despicable crime in which Anne Frank’s diary was defaced in Japanese libraries as a public hate crime, and has confirmed that an investigation is already underway, in hopes of providing answers and putting an end to the crime.
By Allison Longstreet