Anti-China comics head Japanese bestseller lists

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The Independent Online

In the world according to Ko Bunyu, China is incapable of sprouting democracy, practises cannibalism and mass murder and has exported 600,000 "Aids-infested" prostitutes across the world. "The only good thing to come out of China is food," he says.

Bunyu is the sort of man you might steer around if you met him, but in Japan he is hard to avoid thanks to sales of almost one million books. A single comic volume, Introduction to China, has sold nearly 200,000 copies since it was published four months ago.

Introduction is one of several right-wing comics to have hit the Japanese bestseller lists this year. Hate Korea, a 300-page manga that says Japan brought civilisation to the Korean peninsula during its colonial rule of 1910-45, has sold almost 350,000 copies in three months. The book shows a wide-eyed Japanese college student being tutored in an Alice-in-Wonderland version of history that concludes by claiming that South Korea owes its modern industrial status to its old enemy.

In a country where popular manga show everything from violent rape to economic policy, nationalist comics are not new; Yoshinori Kobayashi has sold millions of virulently xenophobic books that beautify Japan's colonial adventures. But the two new volumes have surprised many with their popularity and hostility toward China and Korea, at a time when Japan's relations with its Asian neighbours have sunk to new lows.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has enraged Chinese and Koreans with regular visits to the controversial war memorial Yasukuni Shrine. This, along with the increasingly right-wing drift of domestic Japanese politics, has seeped into popular culture.

* A film on the giant Second World War ship Yamato, set for release this week, is targeting millions of young people. "The Japanese should be proud of their history," says the movie's producer Haruki Kadokawa, who denies any nationalist leanings. "I want people to know the real facts of history," he added.