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January 31, 2014

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 31, 2014 Behind Japanese fascination with Anne Frank, a 'kinship of victims' By Cnaan Liphshiz AMSTERDAM (JTA)--She speaks only Japanese and is not entirely sure what country she's in, but 18-year-old Ha- runa Matsui is happy to stand in the rain for an hour with two friends to see the home of a person she has never met yet nonetheless considers her soul mate. "We visited Paris and Brus- sels, so I just had to come here to see Anne's home," an excited Matsui told JTA last week outside Amsterdam's Anne Frank House. Matsui has read Japanese manga comic book adapta- tions of Frank's diary several times and watched every an- ime cartoon film she could find about the teenage diarist who spent two years hiding in an Amsterdam attic before her arrest in 1944. Frank's story is so well known that dozens of nations are represented in the entry line of the museum estab- lished at her former hideout on Prinsengracht 263. Every year, more than a million people visit the museum, making it one of the Dutch capital's most visited tourist destinations. But interest in Anne Frank is particularly in- tense in Japan, where her story continues to reach new audiences through comic books, cartoons, museum exhibitions and educational initiatives. ............ For some Japanese, this is a source of pride. But research- ers who have studied this fascination say it has a dark side, reflecting a tendency to focus on Japan's victimhood during World War II while ignoring responsibility for atrocities committed by its troops who fought as allies of Nazi Germany. Matsui thinks Japan was neutral during World War II. "The Germans fought the French and English and the Jews in Europe, and then America and Japan had a war later," she said hesitantly through a translator. For many Europeans, Anne Frank is a potent symbol of the Holocaust and the dangers of racism. But the Japanese peo- ple tend to connect to her story for fundamentally different reasons, according to Alain Lewkowicz, a French Jewish journalistwhowrotean elabo- rate iPad application,"Anne Frank in the Land of Manga," about his investigation of the Anne Frank phenomenon in Japan. In January, aversion of the work was published by the Franco-German television channel Arte. "She symbolizes the ulti- mate World War II victim," said Lewkowicz. "And that's how most Japanese consider their own country because of the atomic bombs--a victim, never a perpetrator." Currently, approximately 30,000 Japanese tourists visit the Anne Frank House every year, 5,000 more than the an- nual number of Israelivisitors. That figure places Japan 13th in a list whose top 10 slots are all occupied by European and North American nations. Japan has seen the publica- tion of at least four popular manga comic books about Anne Frankand three animat- ed films. The first Japanese translation of Anne Frank's diary appeared in 1952, one year before it was first pub- lished in Hebrew. "Basically, every Japanese person has read something about Anne Frank, which is even more amazing consider- ing the shocking ignorance on history of many young Japanese today," Lewkowicz said. "The older generation has read the book, and they buy the manga adaptation for their children." One place where Japanese children encounter Anne Frank's story is the Holo- caust Education Center at Fukuyama City, the only such institution in the region. Run by a Japanese reverend, Ma- koto Otsuka, the center has welcomed 150,000 schoolchil- dren since its establishment in 1995. Located just 50 miles from where the American atomic bomb landed on Hiroshima in 1945, the center is home to a statue of Anne Frank, one of only two such statues found in Japan and the only ones in her memory in the Far East. The children also tour the center's scale model of the Anne Frank House in Holland. In 2011, the center received one of two cuttings sent to Japan from the chestnut tree Frank described in her di- ary. Japan is the only Asian country besides Israel with saplings from the tree. The one in Fukuyama is already nine feet tall, according to Otsuka, who spoke to JTA in Hebrew. He studied the lan- guage to improve his ability to study the Holocaust, he said. "Anne Frank isa powerful symbol for peace in Japan," Otsuka said. "That's why her story resonates with so many Japanese, who have suffered the horrors of war." Otsuka began planning a Holocaust education center in 1971 after meeting Anne courtesy ofAlain Lewkowicz Examples of Anne Frank abound in Japanese popular culture. Anne Frank's father, Otto Frank, meeting with Japanese schoolgirls in 1965. Frank's father, Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive the war. "What I instantly saw in the man was how much love he had, despite everything he'd been through," Otsuka said. Introducing Japanese peo- ple to Anne Frank's story was important to Otto Frank. His efforts in this regard may be part of the reason for the Japa- nese interest in his daughter, Japanese on page 15A Will AIPAC- Obama sanctions clash dent pro-Israel lobby's clout? By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- In previous AIPAC vs. White House dustups, the pro-Israel lobbying group's strategy was to speak softly and let Congress carry the big stick. But in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's face-off with the Obama ad- ministration over new Iran sanctions, congressional support may not be so read- ily available and keeping a low public profile is proving impossible. According to congressional insiders and some of the pro- Israel lobbying group's former senior executives, AIPAC may soon face a tough choice: Stick out the battle over sanctions and potentially face a repu- tation-damaging defeat, or reach out to the White House and find a way for both sides to save face. "I don't believe this is sus- tainable, the confrontational Your in Orlando Real Estate!!!! Over 25+ years Residential Real Estate Sales experience Over $200 Million+ Lifetime Sales GALE MILGRIM, P.A., Realtor 407-443-9832 Visit www. To read my Glowing Client Testimonials and my BIO!!!!! Member Congregation Ohev Shalom Parent of 2 Jewish Academy Alumni Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando Supporter REAL ESTATE SERVICES posture," said Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy chief known for his hawkish- ness on Iran. The Obama administration has taken a firm line against the sanctions bill backed by AIPAC, warning that the legislation would harm pros- pects for a achieving a diplo- matic solution on the Iranian nuclear issue. Meanwhile, the confrontation has landed AIPAC squarely in the media spotlight and drawn pointed criticism from leading liberal commentators. AIPAC has been stymied by a critical core of Sen- ate Democrats who have sided with the 0bama ad- ministration in the fight. While AIPAC's bid to build a veto-busting majority has reached 59--eight short of the needed 67--it has stalled there in part because Democrats have more or less stopped signing on. Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the bill's sponsors, rounded up 15 Democrats when the bill was introduced on Dec. 19, just before Congress went on its Christmas recess. Since Con- gress returned this month, however, they have added Mark Wilson/Getty Images Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is the Democratic sponsor of new Iran sanctions legislation. just one Democrat, Michael Bennet of Colorado. AIPAC, however, says its bid to pass sanctions is on track. "Our top priority is stopping Iran's nuclear program, and consequently we are very en- gaged in building support for the Menendez-Kirk billwhich now has the bi-partisan co- sponsorship of 59 senators," AIPAC's spokesman, Marshall Wittman, wrote in an email to JTA. "This measure would provide our negotiators with critical leverage in their ef- forts to achieve a peaceful end to Iran's nuclear weapons program." But in a recent interview with The New Yorker, Presi- dent Obama appeared confi- dent that backers of the bill would not reach a veto-proof majority. "I don't think a new sanc- tions bill will reach my desk during this period, but if it did, I would veto it and expect it to be sustained," Obama said. A source close to AIPAC said the stall in support for the legislation is due in part to the fact that of 10 commit- tee chairmen opposed to the bill, four are Jewish and have AIPAC on page 15A