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!
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • 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.