A Revival of Little Black Sambo in Japan


In the late 1980s, a popular children’s book “Little Black Sambo”(hereafter,LBS) disappeared from all bookstores in Japan.The book was alleged to have racist characteristics such as the name of the boy, the way the illustrations caricatured blacks, etc. Mori (1997) revised the original story by changing the protagonist from a black boy to a black Labrador puppy, with eliminating the word “Sambo”,which had a historically pejorative connotation in the US. Mori (2005) conducted an experiment to compare the entertainment value of the two versions of LBS using four-year-old children and found no difference. Mori (2005) also casted a suspicion that the real reason why the book was withdrawnin Japan was a matter of piracy rather than racism. All Japanese publishers at that time had not properly obtained the copyright. Nowadays there are several versions of LBS available in bookstores all over Japan.

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Mori, K. (2014) A Revival of Little Black Sambo in Japan. Advances in Literary Study, 2, 9-11. doi: 10.4236/als.2014.21003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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