[English] The KADOKAWA cancellation case: the Japanese translation of Abigail Schrier’s book Irreversible Damage

To KADOKAWA Corporation CEO Mr. Takeshi Natsuno

8 December 2023

Dear Mr Takeshi Natsuno

KADOKAWA announced the upcoming release on 24 January 2024 of the Japanese translation of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. This book was originally published in the US in 2020. It sold 120 thousand copies in US alone and was translated in more than 10 languages. After KADOKAWA made its publication announcement, a campaign to stop the book’s release developed on the basis of agitation by a few activists, and they pledged to hold a rally outside KADOKAWA headquarters on 6 December. A protest letter signed by editors and other publishing industry members was lodged, and even KADOKAWA authors registered protest. As a result, on 5 December, just a few days after the original announcement, KADOKAWA withdrew the Japanese translation of Irreversible Damage.  In its official website page announcing the withdrawal the KADOKAWA ‘arts non-fiction editing team’ apologised for ‘hurting [transgender] people with the book’s title and publicity contents’.

In no respect is Abigail Shrier’s book transphobic. As KADOKAWA knows, she interviewed 50 families and more than 200 people to produce an exemplary work of non-fiction that shows teenage girls in the uncertainty of adolescence becoming caught up in a temporary fashion promoted by social media, friends, and teachers that results in ‘irreversible damage’, like injections with hormones and double mastectomies, even though the girls are not transgender. In the book’s introduction Shrier expresses the utmost concern for people suffering gender identity disorder, and makes negative comment neither transgender nor transsexual people.

Most of the people who protested the book’s ‘transphobia’ have not read it, and judged it purely on negative reviews circulating in the West, and on the book’s provocative title and advertising copy in Japanese. It is a scandal of unprecedented proportions that these kinds of false, arbitrary claims would lead to the withdrawal of the Japanese translation of a book that has achieved worldwide acclaim and become a global bestseller. It has hugely damaged freedom of publication, speech, and expression in Japan, and we believe it will leave a stain on the history of Japan’s publishing industry.

Publishers are not mere profit-driven businesses; they hold important social responsibility for freedom of expression in Japan, elevation of its culture, and preservation of viewpoint diversity. KADOKAWA is likely aware of this weighty obligation to society. Naturally, incitement to overt violence and attack of minorities, women, and other marginal groups must not published in the name of freedom of expression. However, Shrier’s book constitutes no such thing, and in fact is a global bestseller that has been translated without problem in many countries to good reception. There was, to be sure, protest and criticism of the book by activists in Western countries, but this never prompted cancellation. Clearly, the circulation of criticism and objection to a book comprises no acceptable reason for its cancellation. If it were reasonable to cancel books on the basis of such criticism and objection, most books in Japan would be liable to that fate. This would render freedom of expression in Japan dead in all but name. It is precisely the books that do attract both criticism and objection as well as praise that promote public debate and promote diversity of viewpoint in society. These books are worth publishing most of all.

We lodge the strongest possible objection to the withdrawal of Irreversible Damage, and urge publication of the book under a Japanese title closer to the original English. We urge you to remember your mission as a publisher, and to meet your minimum responsibilities for freedom of expression in Japan.

No Self-ID! For Women’s Rights and Women’s Safety
Uno Ishigami
no.self.id.jp@gmail.com; https://no-self-id.com

ORIGINAL (in Japanese): KADOKAWAの出版中止決定に断固抗議する

>No ! self-ID For Women's Rights and Women's Safety

No ! self-ID For Women's Rights and Women's Safety