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Author of TDL Book Accused of Plagiarism



April 21st, 2009

Plagiarism doubts plague bestseller about Disneyland

A best-selling book featuring a collection of anecdotes relating to Tokyo Disneyland contains a story closely resembling a prize-winning essay from 2004 that was later carried in The Yomiuri Shimbun, it has been learned.

In addition, several other episodes introduced in the book "Saigo-no Paredo" (The Last Parade) were very similar to stories posted on a 2 Channel Internet bulletin board thread.

The book, which aims to share heart-warming experiences of visitors to the amusement park and its staff, was written by Masaru Nakamura and published by Sanctuary Publishing Inc. According to the company, the book has sold about 230,000 copies since it was published on March 10.

The 33-chapter book is subtitled "Disneyland-de Honto-ni Atta Kokoro Atatamaru Hanashi" (Heartwarming Real Stories from Tokyo Disneyland).

According to the book, Nakamura joined Oriental Land Co., the company that runs Tokyo Disneyland, in 1982 and was engaged in instructing staff and other duties at the company for about 15 years before he finished working there.

The episode that resembles the prizewinning essay is titled "Okina Shiroi Atatakai Te" (Big, White and Warm Hands). It is the story of a man who has become wheelchair-bound after suffering a stroke. When he visits Tokyo Disneyland, he and his wife are deeply impressed when a Donald Duck performer massages their backs and arms.

The content of this story was very similar to an essay that won the Japan Post President's Prize in a contest run by the Small Kindness Movement. Contestants in this competition were required to recount episodes highlighting gestures of kindness they had received or witnessed on the limited space of a postcard.

The essay later ran in The Yomiuri Shimbun's evening edition on Nov. 24, 2004. The structure of the story in the book and the expressions used were almost the same as in the essay. The differences between the two were minor, such as the choice of adjectives and the politer language used in the book.

A woman living in Oita Prefecture who wrote the prizewinning essay said, "In the essay, I wrote about our visit to a local amusement park, not Tokyo Disneyland."

The Small Kindness Movement Executive Office owns the copyrights of all the essays contributed in the contest, but neither the executive office nor the woman was contacted by Nakamura about the book.

"We'd like to consult our lawyers and decide what to do about the book," the executive office said.

The book also contains several episodes that resemble stories posted on a thread of the 2 Channel Internet bulletin board. The stories were posted on the bulletin board before the book was published.

At the back of the book, a list of references was listed along with a statement from Nakamura in which he said, "I referred to information on [Tokyo Disneyland] related Internet Web sites." However, there was no statement saying that he had quoted from accounts given in other publications and sources.

Nakamura said: "I wrote in my book that I collected stories from various sources including the Internet. I know plenty of these stories because I've worked at the front line of Tokyo Disneyland for 15 years. None of the stories is itself false." But he added, "I'm not sure if they are true in their entirety."

Kensuke Tsurumaki, president of Sanctuary Publishing, said: "I was told that the stories were based on observations by the author and on anecdotes handed down from employee to employee at Disneyland. I had no idea any of them closely resembled stories carried in newspapers or on the Internet. I'm going to ask for detailed explanations from the author and the editor."

-- Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun

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