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Israel donates Anne Frank literature to Japan after library vandalism

The Israeli government has provided Japan with hundreds of copies of Anne Frank's diaries and related literature. This followed a vandalism campaign apparently targeting the books in Tokyo libraries.

Israel's Japanese embassy and the Jewish Community of Japan jointly donated some 300 Anne Frank-related books to Tokyo libraries on Thursday, including many copies of the most-read document ever written during the Holocaust, "The Diary of a Young Girl."

Copies of Anne Frank's diaries and other related literature in several Tokyo libraries were recently found to have been defaced by unknown assailants. Multiple pages were torn out of the texts, in the library at the Tokyo ward of Suginami, more than 100 books were vandalized.

"Our first reaction was actually a little bit of a shock," said Peleg Lewi, an Israeli embassy official, at a ceremony in Suginami. "Japan is so known in Israel … as a pacifist and as a very secure country. So this kind of act really made a big impression on us. But I think that everybody understood that it's a single act that does not represent Japanese people."

Israeli embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission Peleg Lewi (C) and Jewish community of Japan president Philip Rosenfeld (L) smile with Ryo Tanaka (R) Mayor of Suginami ward during a ceremony to donate copies of Anne Frank's 'Diary of a Young Girl' in Tokyo on February 27, 2014. (Photo via TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Suginami's mayor received some of the copies for his ward's library

Japanese police established a task force earlier this week to investigate the case.

The mayor of Suginami also attended the ceremony, saying he hoped the vandalism could be turned into an opportunity to educate those who might be unaware of the history of the Holocaust.

"Through this incident, I believe that people also learned about the horrid facts of history and of racism, and with this knowledge, I hope that our people were given an opportunity to reflect on the preciousness of peace," Mayor Ryo Tanaka said.

Anne Frank's diary tells the tale of her last two years in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II; she was 15 when she died in a concentration camp in 1945. "The Diary of a Young Girl" was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2009.

msh/kms (AFP, AP)