TOKYO (CNN) — Scores of copies of Anne Frank’s diary and other books covering the Holocaust held by public libraries across Tokyo have been vandalized, local government officials said Friday.
Pages have been torn out of at least 167 books — most of them versions of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” — said authorities in the Suginami and Nakano wards of Tokyo.
The diary, which has been read by millions of people around the world, is a Jewish girl’s account of hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II.
Local media in Japan have reported that the recent spate of vandalism of the book in Tokyo is more widespread than the just Suginami and Nakano.
Damage to at least 265 copies of Anne Frank’s diary has been discovered at 31 libraries since January, the Kyodo news agency reported.
The reports have stoked concern beyond Japan.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization, expressed “shock” at the news.
“The geographic scope of these incidents strongly suggest an organized effort to denigrate the memory of the most famous of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the World War II Holocaust,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center, said in a statement.
Anne and her family spent 25 months hiding in cramped quarters in Amsterdam, living in fear of discovery by the Nazis. They were betrayed, arrested and deported in August 1944. Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just weeks before it was liberated in 1945.
Cooper said the Simon Wiesenthal Center is “calling on Japanese authorities to step up efforts to identify and deal with the perpetrators of this hate campaign.”
The Japanese government said Friday that the police will fully investigate the matter, according to Kyodo.
“We cannot accept it,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable and shameful.”
Authorities in Suginami ward said pages had been torn from at least 119 books about Anne Frank, including her diary, in 11 public libraries. The first case of damage in the ward was reported February 6.
In Nakano ward, authorities said 54 books from 5 libraries were found to have ripped pages. Most of the books are about Anne Frank, the ward said, but others are about the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Both wards said that so far they had been unable to identify the cause of the vandalism.