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Japan Bans Updike Story From Text

May 26, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s government has banned a short story by American author John Updike from a high school textbook, objecting to the description of three women in bathing suits, the publisher said Tuesday.

Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. had planned to include a translation of Updike’s ``A&P″ in a textbook on contemporary literature. The book would have been used beginning next April.

The Education Ministry told the publisher that the story’s descriptions of women could embarrass young readers and would interfere with classes, said Kadokawa Shoten official Tetsuo Torii.

The ministry, which screens public school textbooks and can block use of material, refused to comment until mid-June, when its review of proposed textbooks ends.

Kadokawa Shoten protested the decision, but has agreed to replace the Updike story with a work by a Japanese writer.

The story depicts a teen-age supermarket worker and his observation of three young female shoppers in swimsuits. The ministry has defined six parts as offensive, Torii said.

``We didn’t really think that, considering the way young people feel, it would be a problem,″ Torii said.

The ministry commonly orders writers to delete or change passages in public school textbooks, often to tone down references to Japan’s conquest of East Asia during the 1930s and 1940s.

The government has tight control over what is read in the classroom, but off school grounds students have wide access to pornographic magazines and comics openly displayed in convenience stores and book shops. Late night TV often features frontal nudity.

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