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Books on Ukraine, Russia selling well

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A special section for books on Ukraine and Russia at a bookstore in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in late March.

Books related to Ukraine and Russia are selling well in Japan, as more people apparently seek to learn about Ukraine and why Russia has attacked it.

Sanseido Bookstore Ltd. set up a special section in early March for related publications at its Jimbocho main store in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. Many people are buying related books every day.

“Monogatari: Ukuraina no Rekishi (The Narrative: Ukrainian History)” describes Ukraine’s history up to its becoming independent from the former Soviet Union. It was written by Yuji Kurokawa, a former Japanese ambassador to Ukraine, and published in 2002 by Chuokoron-Shinsha, Inc.

According to the publisher, this book also drew attention when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, after which 9,000 new copies were printed. It has drawn even more interest now, with Chuokoron-Shinsha planning to print 90,000 more copies by mid-April.

“I’ve learned about Ukraine in-depth for the first time. I hope that peace will be restored there soon,” one reader contacted the publisher to say. A Chuokoron-Shinsha official said, “We hope the book will prompt people to think about the recent aggression.”

Many people are also reading a children’s picture book based on a Ukrainian folktale called “The Mitten,” with illustrations by Evgenii M. Rachev and translated into Japanese by Risako Uchida. Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers, Inc. published its first edition in Japan in 1965.

The story is set in a forest in winter. An old man drops a mitten, after which a mouse, a fox, a bear and four other kinds of animals slip into it one after another. The first animal who went in brings in the second, who then brings in the third, and so on. All of them live in harmony, even though it becomes ever more cramped.

Sanseido Bookstore’s main store in Jimbocho used to sell only a few copies of the picture book a month, but since the invasion by Russia, about 20 copies have been sold. An official at the store said, “Parents may be buying the book to tell their children about Ukraine.”

“Gendai Roshia no Gunji Senryaku (The Military Strategy of the Present-Day Russia)” was published last May by Chikumashobo Ltd. Written by Yu Koizumi, a lecturer at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology of the University of Tokyo, it closely analyzes Russia’s military thinking.

According to the publisher, sales of this book rose after Russia’s invasion, and by mid-March, it had decided to print over 60,000 more copies. The book introduces Russia’s past military aggression, its large-scale military drills and cyberattacks.

A Chikumashobo official said: “This book also refers to the issue of the northern territories. Many people probably buy the book to learn the motives for Russia to take (military) action.”