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A Japanese manga artist’s guide to children’s mental care amid the virus is spreading globally


The Thai translation of the illustrated guide to Japanese manga artist Kimidori Inoue on protecting children’s mental health appears in this photo provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

TOKYO – A Japanese manga artist photographer’s guide on how to maintain the mental health of children during a coronavirus pandemic has been translated into at least 17 languages ​​after the virus spread on social media.

Kimidori Inoue, 55, is a manga artist living in Sendai, northeast Japan, Miyagi Prefecture, illustrations based on her own experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 as well as interviews in the affected areas. The guide has been translated into at least 17 languages ​​and reached at least 23 countries. “The coronavirus is like a natural disaster. It has a huge impact on children, so I would like people to use it as a reference,” Inoue commented.

Eno remembers the time when energy was restored in her home a few days after the earthquake disaster. Tsunami pictures suddenly appeared when she turned on the TV in the living room. Her daughter, who was in fifth grade at the time, turned pale the moment she looked at the screen. Inoue remembers thinking “this is not good” and made sure not to leave the TV running from that point on.

When she visited the heavily damaged coastal areas of the tsunami to obtain materials for the manga series she was working on, the artist also met children and suddenly trusted her about their fears after playing in high spirits. She also saw some children paint violent pictures.

“I felt from my experience that even if the children seemed happy, they endured fears that could not be expressed. The reality of these difficult times due to the coronavirus interferes with the condition of the disaster affected areas after the earthquake,” she said.

With coronavirus infection spreading all over Japan, Inoue decided to record the reality of the crisis as a manga artist who depicted disaster-affected areas and developing countries, among other issues. She created illustrations including ones that show correct methods of cleansing and tips for working from home, and posted them on her blog and other media. In the illustrated guide to protecting children’s mental health, I made six points based on what I learned from experts after the Great East Japan earthquake, including “Don’t keep TV or YouTube news all the time” and “Pay attention to your reactions when watching the news.”

The illustration spread overseas after Kazuo Takeuchi, 43, deputy head of the Japan Office for International Cooperation (JICA) Thailand office, found it on Inoue’s Facebook page. Schools and gardens have been closed since April in Thailand as well, but mental care for children has not received much attention.

Takeuchi suggested that Inoue translated the illustration, because he felt it would be a unique form of support that Japan could offer as a country that experienced the 2011 disaster. The illustrated guide spread across Thailand immediately as soon as the Thai language version was published on a JICA Facebook account in early June .

This resulted in more translated versions by the JICA offices in other countries, which were posted respectively on social media. It is said that the government of Uganda has begun discussing its use in its television ads. Takeuchi commented, “Childcare is a common problem among every country. We have managed to communicate the difficult problem in a gentle way because it is a manga.”

(Japanese Origin by John Kaneko, City News Department)


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