Israeli Ambassador to Japan Nissim Ben-Shitrit visited a book store at a Tokyo Metro station recently, and he was shocked to discover a manga comic book with a drawing of Adolf Hitler on its cover.
An inquiry revealed that the book, which had been distributed in many book stands in Japan, was a Japanese translation of the Nazi leader's autobiography, "Mein Kampf."
Following the inquiry, the ambassador scheduled a meeting with the comic book's publisher, which was also attended by two of the book's illustrators.
Ben-Shitrit expressed his discontent with the publication and explained why it was so problematic. The publisher apologized, saying he did not think the book would offend anyone's feelings.
'Mein Kampf,' manga-style (Photo: Israeli Embassy in Tokyo)
Biblical comics. Messengers to Canaan return to Moses (Photo: Israeli Embassy in Tokyo)
The Bible comic books (Photo: Israeli Embassy in Tokyo)
The publisher told the ambassador that the "Mein Kampf" comic book had sold tens of thousands of copies and was already sold out. As he could not repair what was done, Ben-Shitrit tried to come up with an idea to tilt the balance.
After contemplating several solutions, the publisher accepted the ambassador's offer to issue a manga version of the Bible stories.
During the meeting, the parties agreed to publish three different books." Hitler's illustrators "fixed" their mistake by drawing the Bible heroes.
The Bible stories comic books are now offered for sale in Japan's book stores both in Japanese and in English.
"When I saw the drawing of Hitler with swastikas and Japanese captions, I was shocked," says Ben-Shitrit. "It's unthinkable that an enlightened person would read Hitler's book. Luckily, the book has exhausted itself and is no longer on the shelves.
"Now I'm hoping that young people in Japan will be exposed to the heroes of the Bible. I don't think that they maliciously intended to publish something anti-Semitic. It’s a small company that publishes manga books, and they thought their readers would be interested in it."