Resource: Japanese Censorship Collection

Page from Amenoōji Nushigami : shinjin, chūkō, kore waga michi, Library of Congress Japanese Censorship Collection

Modern Japan enthusiasts will be excited by this relatively recent addition to the digitized collections of the Library of Congress. In collaboration with Japan’s National Diet Library, the Library of Congress has made available a digitized collection of Japanese censored materials dating from 1923 (the Kanto Earthquake) to 1945 (Japan’s surrender in WWII). As described on the website:

The Japanese Censorship Collection contains 1,327 marked-up copies of censored monographs and galley proofs for approximately 1,100 titles, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s. They include copies submitted by publishers for examination by censors in the Home Ministry of the Japanese imperial government as well as books lawfully confiscated by the ministry and local authorities for censor review. The practice of censorship were carried out “to protect public order ‘annei‘ and the manners and morals ‘fuzoku‘” in Japan. To achieve these ends, censors suppressed “kinshi“, deleted “sakujo” or revised publications “kaitei” they deemed a threat to social and political stability.

These materials, previously forbidden from both publication and distribution, often include comments by censors written directly on them, including penciled remarks, notes in the margins, stamps, and more.

The website contains full-color images in high resolution as well as all the accompanying metadata one can expect from the Library of Congress archives on title, medium, creator, publication, etc. for each work. Similarly, these materials can be used for freely for educational and research purposes and some are public domain.

There are over 1,000 items included in the Japanese Censorship Collection, many of them fully digitized, so there’s plenty for the history buff or researcher to dig through while investigating this fascinating period of history. Check out the site here!

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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