TOKYO — Japan promised to begin an investigation on Friday into the mysterious mutilation of hundreds of copies of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and other books related to her at public libraries across Tokyo.
Local media reports said 31 municipal libraries had found 265 copies of the diary by Frank, the young Holocaust victim, and other books vandalized, usually with several pages torn or ripped out. The reports said some libraries had taken copies of the diary off their shelves to protect them.
Officials said they did not know the motive for the vandalism, the first cases of which were discovered earlier this month.
On Friday, the top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, the chief Cabinet secretary, expressed disappointment at the damage done to the books, saying the police would investigate. “It is extremely regrettable and shameful,” he told reporters.
He spoke a day after the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group, issued a statement expressing “shock and deep concern” over the vandalism.
“Only people imbued with bigotry and hatred would seek to destroy Anne’s historic words of courage, hope and love in the face of impending doom,” the statement said.
The diary, written by Frank as she and her family hid from the Nazis, was published after her death in a concentration camp at age 15. It has been widely read in Japan, as in many other countries, and is one of the best-known testimonies about the Holocaust.
While anti- is not common in Japan, magazine articles and books have occasionally appeared here that deny the Holocaust.