Manga, diversity and inclusion


Five outstanding works that tackle diversity and inclusion issues.

Kenkou de bunkateki na saiteigendo no seikatsu (Maintain the Minimum Standards of Wholesome and Cultured Living)

23rd Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division Jury Selections
Publisher: Shogakukan Inc.
Publication date: 2014
Volume: 9 volumes (ongoing)
Copyright: © Kashiwagi Haruko / Shogakukan

Director’s comment

Kenkou de bunkateki na saiteigendo no seikatsu (Maintain the Minimum Standards of Wholesome and Cultured Living)” is the story of YOSHITSUNE Emiru, a young woman recently hired as a civil servant by the social services office of a city ward office. It follows her as she tries to help people in different exclusion conditions, such as poverty, illness, domestic violence, and difficulty fitting into society. Emiru faces harsh situations she must deal with, as well as people trying to abuse the system.

Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan states: “All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living. In all spheres of life, the State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension of social welfare and security, and of public health.” Yet this is easier said than done. Along with newcomer Emiru, readers tackle poignant inclusion issues that are shocking yet help understand society’s innermost problems. Of course, Japanese manga has a long tradition of works that tackle social issues and otherwise ignored or overlooked problems. “Kenkou de bunkateki na saiteigendo no seikatsu” is one of the most outstanding examples of this.

Kenkou de bunkateki na saiteigendo no seikatsu (Maintain the Minimum Standards of Wholesome and Cultured Living)” (9 volumes, ongoing) is unpublished in English.

About the author


KASHIWAGI Haruko was born in Chiba Prefecture, and made her manga debut in 1995 with “Inu (Dog)”, which she followed with popular works like “Burabura banban”, “Onimushi”, “Hanazono Merry-Go-Land”, and “Chiheisen de Dance (Horizon Dance).” Her current manga, “Kenkou de bunkateki na saiteigendo no seikatsu (Maintain the Minimum Standards of Wholesome and Cultured Living)”, which centers around a new welfare aid worker, has run in manga magazine Monthly Spirits since 2014. In 2018, it was adapted into a live-action TV series, and won top prize in the General category at the 64th Shogakukan Manga Awards.

Shogakukan Inc. (Japanese)

Exhibition of selected artworks

Volume 1 Page 4 (right) and 5 (left)
Emiru and the other young civil servants that will work in the social services office of Tokyo’s East Ward. In the back, the text of Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan.

1. Chapter 1: Social Worker
Volume 1 Page 20 (right) and 21 (left)
Tokyo’s East Ward social services office feels like a war zone for Emiru in her first day at work.

1. I have to try… 2. Good morning! 3. I’m a civil servant!!! I’ll at least try not to get in anyone’s way… 4. This is the department of health and social services, eastern division! 5. I’m scheduling a visit. 6. Your son works in a bank. Surely, he can support you? 7. Sniff… 8. Yes? Mr. Sawada behaved inappropriately at the hospital…? 9. Would you like me to find the correct department to transfer you to? 10. The remote isn't working. 11. Huh? Have you tried to change the batteries…? 12. Woo! Looks like I scored the hottie for my case! 13. Ah… look… I need your paystub from the other day…
Volume 2 Page 18
Difficult social and personal problems arise during a civil servant’s day to day: they’ll have to learn to face every situation with coolness and fairness.

1. Imagine if you were her. 2. Not only constantly beaten by your ex-husband, you have two small children to care for. 3. You feel guilty about taking welfare, and society shames you to “get back to work!” 4. You can’t sleep. 5. You can’t eat. 6. You’re exhausted, so housework and childcare get neglected.
Volume 2 Page 83
Does everyone who receives the city ward’s economic assistance really deserve it? Or are they just trying to outsmart the system?

1. Hmmm… 2. It's fine, but… you really wanna come in? Here? 3. Maybe you oughta come back when it cools down, ya know?
Volume 3 Page 110
Emiru and her colleagues must learn to face different situations to guarantee the inclusion of all kinds of people in Japanese society. Through this manga, the reader becomes aware of a lot of them.

1. I wonder if I’ll ever have a family…? 2. I need a boyfriend first… 3. There are many kinds of families 4. You’ve been helping my son for so long. 5. I wanna live with my dad!!! It’s your fault… 6. It really is a lonely world. 7. They call it a disconnected society. We walk among each other without making connections… 8. And yet, even family connections can bring trouble… 9. If not for my brother…
Volume 3 Page 133
Applying for economic assistance is never easy. Many people consider that they are just “parasites who feed on the taxpayer’s money”.

1. Ko Shimaoka. Twenty-six years old. No fixed address. 2. The reason for your visit today is… 3. “I want to apply for welfare.”… correct? 4. For now, where are you sleeping? 5. Ah. The park. 6. Or net cafes.