Japan loves Anne Frank, but for unexpected reasons

7 years ago by in Japan

Anne Frank, the little girl who became probably the world’s most famous victim of the World War 2, has made Japan to fall in love with her for decades. However, researchers say the reason for Japan identifying so much with Anne Frank has to do with a problem of denial.

Frank’s story has been presented in many ways in Japan, including comic books, cartoons, museum exhibitions and educational initiatives, while at least four popular manga comic books about her and three animated films were released in Japan so far.

Although many people in Europe see Anne Frank as a symbol of the Holocaust and a victim of racism, Japanese people tend to identify with her for totally different reasons, Alain Lewkowicz, a French Jewish journalist who investigated the Anne Frank phenomenon in Japan, said.

It reflects Japan’s tendency to identify itself with the victims of the World War II, ignoring at the same time the responsibility for atrocities committed by its army who fought together with Nazi Germany.

“She symbolizes the ultimate World War II victim,” said Lewkowicz, according to the media. “And that is how most Japanese consider their own country because of the atomic bombs — a victim, never a perpetrator.”

“The Anne Frank-Japan connection is based on a kinship of victims,” Lewkowicz said. “The Japanese perceive themselves as such because of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They do not think of the countless Anne Franks their troops created in Korea and China during the same years.”

Regarding Japan’s capacity to face the historical truth, Lewkowicz is not too optimistic. . “Japan is not ready. It may seem from the outside like an ultra-liberal society, but this is a false impression.”

Still, Lewkowicz added that slowly, people who are interested to present the truth will tell the nation “also through the Anne Frank story, that some of what Japan did in those years is pretty much comparable.”