Experts speculate on likely Anne Frank book vandal

TOKYO —

Who’s the depraved maniac who’s been ripping up copies of the Diary of Anne Frank around Tokyo public libraries? As of February 24, reports Nikkan Gendai (Feb 27) at least 305 books written by the young Jewish victim of Nazi persecution, her life story or on related topics have been vandalized at public libraries in five of Tokyo’s 23 wards and four municipalities, including Yokohama.

On Feb 24, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced it was setting up a special task force that would operate out of the Suginami Police Station, to investigate the destruction of public property.

“While the locations of the damaged books at first might seem scattered, they are situated on a line running westward from Shinjuku along the JR Chuo Line,” says a police source familiar with the investigation. “The MPD is looking at acts by a single perpetrator and has been looking through recordings by library security cameras.”

“We found a total of 40 books that had been vandalized at three libraries in Shinjuku including one in Yotsuya,” says Kotaro Fujimaki, librarian at the Central Shinjuku Library in Okubo 3-chome. “The method in all cases was basically the same: without damaging the front covers of the books the person grabbed several pages and tore downwards from the edges. My impression is that the person must be strongly motivated and planned the crimes carefully.”

“Among the damaged works were not only the diary but other types of books, including illustrated stories, and researched works, some of which didn’t have ‘Anne’ in their titles,” points out Itsuo Tobimatsu, a retired detective on the Hyogo prefectural police, who often appears as a commentator on TV programs and also operates an academy for training private investigators in Kobe.

Tobimatsu added, “I think it’s likely a person who would search out more than 300 titles is strongly obsessed over this topic and yet possesses a high level of sophistication.”

So what kind of perpetrator are we looking at? A dedicated anti-Semite? A neo-Nazi? A Holocaust denier infuriated by the attention lavished on the 15-year-old girl who is probably that tragedy’s most celebrated victim? Or might it possibly be a person moved by some other reason entirely?

“My guess it was carried out by a female who works as a researcher and is hard up financially,” Tobimatsu speculates. “‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ contains passages about Anne’s expectations of love even while she was forced to live in hiding. These days university instructors subsist on low wages and are hassled to engage in research. They have no chance get married, let alone enjoy romance. I think we can’t rule out the possibility that the perpetrator feels envy toward Anne Frank and is defacing the books out of a sense of unjustified resentment.”

While Tokyo’s finest will be sifting through hours of security camera footage in search of clues to the perpetrator, the article points out that to safeguard privacy of library users, most of the security cameras are not aimed to monitor the patrons’ browsing activities. And there’s a good chance whoever defaced the books knew that as well.

Shukan Shincho (March 6), meanwhile, adopted a different approach. Its reporter tracked down a man named Kazunari Yamada, who heads the National Socialist Workers’ Party of Japan (membership: 20), and asked him who he thinks might be the culprit.

“I’ve heard nothing at all from people in my circles,” he tells the magazine, “but it might have something to do with events being planned to observe the upcoming 125th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth. So might not the offender be someone who wants to lash out at Anne, a detested symbol of the tragedy the Jews underwent?”

Sophia University professor emeritus Akira Fukushima, however, believes the vandalism is more likely to have been done by someone in their 40s or 50s acting alone.

“A person from that generation would have read and studied Anne’s diary as a part of their school curricula,” suggests Fukushima. “The perpetrator conducted expanded searches for books based on contents, and not just with ‘Anne’ in the title. There are lots of tenacious males with obsessive-compulsive personalities out there.”

  • 0

    Virtuoso

    Nah, I think it's probably a Japanese Holden Caulfield, some pimply adolescent with serious growing pains.

  • -1

    rickyvee

    a japanese catcher in the rye? i don't see the connection. chapman had a copy on him when he murdered lennon, and hinkley had the book in his hotel room when he attempted to assassinate reagan.

    my guess is that it's some ocd guy who has a lolita complex with anne frank.

  • 16

    Nessie

    I think it's probably a Japanese Holden Caulfield, some pimply adolescent with serious growing pains.

    The Catcher in the Reich

  • 2

    Virtuoso

    LOL@Nessie!

  • 4

    Viclovesdrama

    Oh wow, these so-called experts lol, they should rather volunteer going through security camera material, the only concrete way to determine who did it.

  • 12

    Maria

    Tobimatsu is rather specific, isn't he? He'd better be spot on, otherwise he's just some old has-been with a grievance against the female academic who turned down his advances 35 years ago.

  • 0

    Tessa

    There are lots of tenacious males with obsessive-compulsive personalities out there.

    You don't say!

  • 0

    ThonTaddeo

    Every once in a while you see hoaxes where incidents like this will be faked to draw attention to causes that the "victims" want attention for. At Oberlin College there was a spate of incidents of supposedly-racist graffiti and people wearing KKK hoods, and it turned out that the whole thing was a hoax.

    I'd be very disappointed if this case turned out to be like that one, but then again, better than than the idea of a genuine neo-Nazi going around vandalizing library books.

  • 0

    hidingout

    It appears that the vandalism was carries out in at least seven different libraries (hard to tell exactly how many from this article). So even if the security cameras do not cover people browsing in the libraries they should be able to pick out the same person entering all of these libraries within the time frame provided the security cameras cover the entrances. Few ordinary citizens would visit that many branches of the library within such a short interval.

    “My guess it was carried out by a female who works as a researcher and is hard up financially,” Tobimatsu speculates.

    I doubt this crime was carried out by a woman, and the bit about being a researcher is really flimsy - as if it takes a researcher to look up related titles without the word "Anne" in the title.

    Three hundred odd books is a lot. Like really a lot. So the motivation to get noticed was very high. We aren't dealing with a garden variety nutjob taking out his/her frustrations after a bad day. I can't help but think that there is some political motivation behind the acts.

    My guess is that these acts were committed by some far left leaning person angered by a shift to the right in Japan's politics.

  • 2

    igloobuyer

    Bizarre, the so-called experts and the writer of this article seem to be (deliberately?) overlooking the fact there has been, and probably still is, fairly wide-spread anti-Semitism in Japan.

    Various Japanese 'tondemo' books and magazine have denied the holocaust most recently in a 1995 issue of 'Marco Polo' which was forced to shut down soon after. Don't forget you have the Japanese Red Army terrorist group who killed 26 people at Tel Aviv airport in 1972 Aum Shinrikyo have been associated with anti-Semitism also, "Hideo Murai, one of the leaders of Aum Shinrikyo, uttered "Yudaya ni yarareta (Jews got me)." when he was stabbed to death".

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_Japan

  • 0

    OrangeXenon54

    How does this not scream "Nettouyo"??! To suggested a woman "envious of Anne's life" is not only naive, but blatantly overlooks the ultra-nationalistic, ultra-conservative nutjobs who are gaining strength in this country.

  • -1

    WilliB

    " Among the damaged works were not only the diary but other types of books, including illustrated stories, and researched works, some of which didn’t have ‘Anne’ in their titles "

    Well, why did not hear that before? So it is not politically motivated, it is just another mental case. So the whole Anne Frank story is bogus. Why do we only hear that now?

  • 2

    BNlightened

    This article fails to mention that 256 of the 305 books did in fact have the word "Anne" (Frank) in them, while the Washington Post actually follows up what Japan Today leaves unanswered: namely, to actually connect the "other books" back to topics RELATED TO Anne Frank in Tokyo library search results for...Anne Frank!)

    My question here is: Why does this article assume that 305 separate copies of very similar books, clearly connected to WWII atrocities, spread all throughout Tokyo...were damaged by just ONE INDIVIDUAL? Where's the proof for this stupendous assumption?? Throughout the article, it talks about "a vandal, a perpetrator, the person, someone..." when it's far more likely that a political GROUP with a historical revisionist political agenda is behind this systematic, simultaneous and widespread vandalism.

  • -1

    Scrote

    It will be a sweaty, somewhat overweight and unattractive "former" member of a black van fascist group, probably in his 30s, living in a shabby six mat room and working part time jobs.

    That's the opinion of this "expert".

  • 2

    Kabukilover

    The "experts" are no closer to the truth than our JT posters were. I do have revise my one previous speculation. The evidence seems to point to a single person.

  • 0

    highball7

    LOL@ Nessie!!! Brilliant!!!!!

  • -1

    BurakuminDes

    @ Scrote - I think you may just be bang on there. I'd throw in an oedipus complex, coca-cola bottle glasses, a thick lisp, and spitting when he talks into your mix.

    @ Nessie - laughed my head off - well done!

  • 0

    presto345

    OK perp, you've got our attention. Now what is it you want next?

  • 3

    Educator60

    << WilliB at Feb. 28, 2014 - 11:43AM JST " Among the damaged works were not only the diary but other types of books, including illustrated stories, and researched works, some of which didn’t have ‘Anne’ in their titles "

    Well, why did not hear that before? So it is not politically motivated, it is just another mental case. So the whole Anne Frank story is bogus. Why do we only hear that now?>>

    All of the defaced books were related to Anne Frank. Some did not have her name in the title but discussed her within their pages and thus could be found by a search for books rflated to her. And this has been known for days now. I know I commented in this on a different JT thread days ago.

    Also of note is that rather than removing entire pages, which would not be so noticeable, the perpetrator tore of portions of the pages in a curved fashion so the defacement is quickly apparent, really in your face, so to speak.

  • -2

    gokai_wo_maneku

    I agree with a poster above, Thad, who says maybe someone is just trying to draw attention to Ann Frank and the Holocaust (books are the Holocaust were also damaged). Anything related to heightening of Arab/Islam profile in Japan, due to increasing dependence on oil?

  • 3

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    gokai@Muslims in Japan have a pretty spotless record as far as political activities, let alone crimes of this nature and are near the bottom of my own list of suspects. Foreigners tend to stand out, especially in libraries full of Japanese-language books, so the perp is either a Japanese or a person who can pass for one and who speaks the language. If it's just one person, then it's someone with a lot of time on his or her hands. The branches of some of those libraries are really off the beaten track, which tells me the vandalism was well planned. Since there was no 犯行声明文 (announcement by the criminal of his intent), we'll probably be in the dark until the police announce an arrest. (Or, they might decide to simply rattle the suspect by leaking his/her identity to the media, as was done in the Wakayama Curry Poisoning Case.)

  • 0

    paulinusa

    Anti-Semitism? Far right politics? Sorry to say it's simply a twisted lone wolf nut job obsessed with Anne Frank.

  • 0

    shaw34

    Who was the politician that insisted this couldn't possibly be the work of a Japanese, that it had to be the work of some foreigner in Japan?

  • 0

    SumoBob

    "My guess it was carried out by a female who works as a researcher and is hard up financially," Tobimatsu speculates. "'The Diary of a Young Girl' contains passages about Anne's expectations of love even while she was forced to live in hiding. These days university instructors subsist on low wages and are hassled to engage in research. They have no chance get married, let alone enjoy romance. I think we can't rule out the possibility that the perpetrator feels envy toward Anne Frank and is defacing the books out of a sense of unjustified resentment."

    Way to go, Tobimatsu-kun. Your misogynistic bias is showing, now that a middle aged, homeless man has been arrested for the crime. I so wish these so-called experts would stop talking out of their asses. 100 percent incorrect.

  • 0

    Danny Bloom

    they nabbed him today

  • 0

    Danny Bloom

    From Anne Frank to Hello Kitty MARCH 12, 2014 by Norihiro Kato

    TOKYO — In late February, officials from city libraries contacted the police after discovering that hundreds of copies of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” had been defaced. Media reports included an awful picture: a torn photograph of the girl smiling in a mutilated book. No culprit has been identified, but the rash of vandalism seemed to begin around the time, in January, that a member of the ultranationalist group Zaitokukai marched in a rally with a Nazi flag over his shoulders.

    If there is anything good to be said about that ugly bit of vandalism against Anne Frank’s diary, it’s that it might push Japanese society to say goodbye to all that cuteness and hello to the real history of Anne Frank and her countless sisters.

    Norihiro Kato is a literary scholar and a professor at Waseda University. This article was translated by Michael Emmerich from the Japanese.

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