Crisis pushes Japanese publishers to reprint books on Ukraine and Russia

Japanese publishers are increasingly reprinting books and offering free online access to manga about Ukraine and Russia amid heightened reader interest following the invasion of this European country from the East by Moscow.

But some companies are wary and rather low-key in promoting reposted material out of consideration for the victims, whose numbers continue to grow in the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. “I feel guilty about the sales,” a publishing industry official said.

Photo taken on March 9, 2022 shows books about Ukraine and Russia on display in a special corner of a bookstore in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Among the companies is Chuokoron-Shinsha Inc., which reprinted 30,000 copies of “Monogatari: Ukuraina no Rekishi” (Stories from Ukrainian History) by Yuji Kurokawa, Japan’s former ambassador to Ukraine.

Since the book was first published in 2002, orders have increased whenever Ukraine has gained international attention, such as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Chuokoron-Shinsha said.

Chikumashobo Ltd. reprinted 20,000 copies of “Gendai Roshia no Gunji Senryaku” (The Military Strategy of Modern Russia) by Yu Koizumi, a professor at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo.

Koizumi frequently appears on television to answer questions about the Ukraine crisis and interpret Russia’s military action.

Kodansha Ltd. has made available six chapters of its “Funso Deshitara Hatta Made” (If There’s Conflict, Go to Hatta) series for free on its online comic book site Comic Days.

Motohiro Den’s series chapters involve Ukraine in the story, which follows the titular character Yuri Hatta, a “geopolitical risk consultant”, who travels the world to solve problems.

Publib LLC also rushed to reprint copies of the guide “Ukuraina Fan Bukku” (Ukraine Fan Book), written by Takashi Hirano, Japanese-language editor for the Ukrainian state-run news agency Ukrinform.

A revised manuscript of the book was submitted to Publib on February 24, the same day Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

“Cities that have become battlegrounds actually have a lot of charm,” said Yoshiro Hamazaki, president of Publib. “That’s what the book helps to understand.”

Another editor said “the invasion itself is a sad story”, expressing hope that the books could “help readers understand the background of the invasion and learn about Ukraine”.