The Israeli ambassador to Japan was shocked to discover a manga adaptation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf on the shelf of a Tokyo bookstore, so much so that he arranged a meeting with publisher East Press to express his dismay.
Ynetnews reports that while the publisher apologized and said he didn't realize the book would offend anyone -- it was released in 2008 as part of a series of historical adaptations that included Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and Tolstoy’s War and Peace -- he explained that Mein Kampf had already sold out.
And so Ambassador Nissim Ben-Shitrit came up with a solution that, in his view, would provide a bit of balance: three manga adaptations of Bible stories, illustrated by some of the Mein Kampf artists. The books are now available in Japanese and in English from East Press.
"When I saw the drawing of Hitler with swastikas and Japanese captions, I was shocked," Ben-Shitrit told Ynetnews. "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."
East Press' Mein Kampf outperformed its other historical adaptations, selling about 45,000 copies in its first year of release. Editor Kōsuke Maruo explained the publisher released the book because, "It is a famous book, but there are few who have read it. I think it is [studying] material for knowing Hitler, a man synonymous with 'devil,' and what sort of thinking created that level of tragedy."