Since mid-January this year, bizarre incidents of vandalism have been occurring in libraries and bookstores in Tokyo. A handful of texts were targeted, but hundreds of copies of The Diary of Anne Frank, which chronicles Jewish persecution during World War II, were found with pages slashed and torn out, leading some to suspect that the acts were part of some political statement.
On 12 March it was revealed the Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a man for the destruction of Jewish themed books in a major book store in Toshima, Tokyo. Authorities also feel there is a strong possibility he is involved in the other 310 books that have been destroyed.
Police were notified of a particular incident at the Ikebukuro branch of Junkudo, a popular bookstore chain in Japan. Both in the middle of January and on 21 February, a single copy of The Diary of Anne Frank was found destroyed. After reviewing security footage of the area in which the book was on display, police they found that a second book had also been defaced on the 21st, and noticed a man behaving suspiciously in the same vicinity as the damaged books.
In addition they spotted the same man in store footage from about a week earlier. In it, he could be seen moving back and forth between sections on the third, fourth, and eighth floors where books regarding the holocaust were kept. In each location damaged books were later found. On top of all that, it was reported that on 22 February as Junkudo staff were contacting the police about the damaged books, the same man was back in the store planting fliers. Police did n0t, however, reveal what the nature of the fliers was.
Police arrested the man on 7 March on suspicion of unlawful entry having entered the store for purposes other than purchasing books, such as distributing pamphlets without permission. Investigators are now trying to link him with the 300 other cases of vandalism that occurred largely in libraries and bookstores of the western part of Tokyo.
Police have confiscated the suspect’s computer and mobile phone in the hopes of finding evidence, such as search results for the locations of libraries affected by similar crimes, in their browsers’ history or hard drive. They are also reviewing the security camera footage of all locations to try and find the suspect, and have reportedly been successful in some cases.
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have also announced that the man, whom they only identify as an “unemployed man in his 30s,” made a statement admitting some degree of involvement in these incidents. It’s said that he didn’t have any particular ideological agenda when defacing the books, but appears to be mentally unstable.