Why Is Japan Obsessed With Anne Frank?

'Kinship of Victims' — Despite Wartime Role as Nazi Ally

Alain Lewkowicz

By Cnaan Liphshiz

Published January 24, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — She speaks only Japanese and is not entirely sure what country she’s in, but 18-year-old Haruna Matsui is happy to stand in the rain for an hour with two friends to see the home of a person she has never met yet nonetheless considers her soul mate.

wikicommons

“We visited Paris and Brussels, so I just had to come here to see Anne’s home,” an excited Matsui told JTA last week outside Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House.

Matsui has read Japanese manga comic book adaptations of Frank’s diary several times and watched every anime cartoon film she could find about the teenage diarist who spent two years hiding in an Amsterdam attic before her arrest in 1944.

Frank’s story is so well known that dozens of nations are represented in the entry line of the museum established at her former hideout on Prinsengracht 263. Every year, more than a million people visit the museum, making it one of the Dutch capital’s most visited tourist destinations.

But interest in Anne Frank is particularly intense in Japan, where her story continues to reach new audiences through comic books, cartoons, museum exhibitions and educational initiatives.

For some Japanese, this is a source of pride. But researchers who have studied this fascination say it has a dark side, reflecting a tendency to focus on Japan’s victimhood during World War II while ignoring responsibility for atrocities committed by its troops who fought as allies of Nazi Germany.

Matsui thinks Japan was neutral during World War II.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.