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Three major bookstore chains in Japan stop selling CoroCoro Comic after an image defacing the ancient ruler was published.
Many of us in Japan have learned this week that Genghis Khan is still a really big deal in Mongolia. Although outside his homeland history books often depict him as a ruthless conqueror of Asia, inside the country he is seen as a symbol of the nation’s strength, particularly after breaking free from the oppressive control of the Soviet Union.
So it was probably a bad idea from the get-go when the kids’ manga Yarisugi!!! Itazura-kun in the magazine CoroCoro Comic‘s March issue showed a portrait of Genghis Khan renamed “Chin Chin” (wee-wee) and with a penis drawn on his forehead. But the current wave of protests is showing just how bad it is.
▼ Germans have been quiet regarding Einstein depicted as a shi-tsu in the same manga.
Despite CoroCoro Comic making a formal apology on 23 February, protesters gathered outside publisher Shogakkan on the 26th, chanting “unforgivable insult” and “recall.” One demonstrator, a Mongolian faculty member of a university in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture, told Sankei News, “Genghis Khan is a spiritual pillar for our people and the focus of our beliefs. This disrespect is unforgivable.”
Also, on 25 February major bookstore chains Kinokuniya and Miraiya pulled the March issue of CoroCoro Comic from their shelves out of respect for the Mongolian people whose embassy had already filed an official complaint with the Japanese Foreign Ministry. One more bookstore chain, Kumazawa, followed suit on 26 February after Mongolian protesters visited a store and asked that the magazines be removed. The retailer complied citing “safety concerns” had they continued to offer the comic.
The internet has been relatively dumbfounded by this matter, showing much less snark than usual and apparently just trying to follow the rapid escalation of what’s going on.
“So, it’s come to this.”
“Wow. Whoever did that Genghis Khan thing is looking at a cancellation of their series, a massive recall of books, and an international incident. What a screw-up.”
“So we’ll at least see ads for the March CoroCoro Comic disappear first.”
“What a fuss over a kids’ comic.”
“I remember when I was a kid and read CoroCoro Comic. I got in trouble for repeating some of the language in it and my parents took it away. In hindsight, they were probably right to do so.”
“Most kids buy CoroCoro Comics right when it goes on sale. This is just posturing by the bookstores since the money has already largely been made.”
Indeed, the March issue of CoroCoro Comic was released on 15 February and sold for about a week without incident. It wasn’t until Mongolian-born sumo legend Asashoryu tweeted images of the offending pages that it became national news.
Meanwhile, Shogakkan is still considering whether or not to recall the magazine. I certainly hope they do, and not just because it would make my own copy increase in value, but because it’s the right thing to do.
▼ Unfortunately a recall would hurt the other dozen or so more culturally sensitive titles that share the pages of CoroCoro Comic, such as Nanto! Dangerous Ojisan (pictured below)
Japan’s entertainment industry started 2018 by offending Americans’ with an ill-advised Eddie Murphy blackface impression in January. And now having ticked of Mongolians in February, they’re averaging one major cultural slight a month and are well on course to seriously irking Guinea-Bissau by the spring thaw.
Source: Shinbunka Online, Sankei News, Hachima Kiko