First atomic bomb exhibition to open in Pearl Harbor in July

Officials from Hiroshima and Nagasaki hope that an exhibition at the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Honolulu, showing the devastation caused by atomic bombs "conveys the meaning of peace beyond nationalities".

It will be held on the 75th anniversary of the launch of atomic bombs, and the first on the battleship, in which Japan officially surrendered to end World War II.

"It will be of historic importance to organize the event at the symbolic location of Pearl Harbor," said Takuo Takigawa, director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. "We will show exhibits that can present the terrifying aspects of the war."

The Pacific War broke out when Japan carried out a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and ended after Tokyo signed the surrender agreement on the deck of the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, after the fall of the two nuclear weapons . bombs.

Terumi Tanaka, 87, a senior official at the Japanese Confederation of A and H Bombing Organizations, said she hoped the planned exhibition would help deepen understanding of atomic attacks among Americans.

"One person in the United States told me that atomic bombings were the price of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but I explained their differences and the guy understood," said Tanaka. "Holding an atomic bomb display at the iconic Pearl Harbor location has great significance, and I hope the event will provide an opportunity to present the facts objectively."

The exhibition will take place from early July to September, according to the city of Hiroshima. After the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a similar exhibition is planned at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, until early October.

Although what will be shown has not yet been decided, 20 items from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, such as images of the bombed ruins and severely burned survivors, as well as the victims' clothes and a melted cross, are in consideration.

The survivors of the Hibakusha atomic bomb will also speak about their experiences.

The landmark event became a reality due to the active efforts of the two Japanese cities to share lessons from the catastrophe.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki have organized exhibitions to show the inhumanity of nuclear weapons since 1995 in foreign countries. Beginning in Washington, DC, the exhibition was held on 59 occasions in 51 cities in 19 countries, including Russia, France and India with nuclear weapons.

The last show is already underway in Los Angeles.

At the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a farewell note from a kamikaze pilot and other articles have been shown previously. Michael Carr, president of the USS Missouri Memorial Association and Kenji Shiga, then director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, visited each other's premises in 2017 and agreed to increase cooperation.

In June last year, a paper crane created by Sadako Sasaki, who died of leukemia at the age of 12 a decade after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, was donated to the US memorial.

In addition, Hiroshima and Honolulu are sister cities. The mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, traveled to Honolulu last summer to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the cities' friendship.

To coincide with his visit, a local group of former residents of Hiroshima Prefecture pledged to cooperate to organize an event that marked the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing.

Unique perception

One of the goals of the planned display for Pearl Harbor is to change the way US citizens view the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the United States, there is an ingrained argument to justify nuclear attacks that insist that the bombings contributed to the end of the war and thus helped to reduce the death toll of American soldiers.

In fact, a B-29 bomber known as Bockscar, which dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, is described as the aircraft that ended World War II at the US National Air Force Museum, near Dayton, Ohio.

In 1995, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, which holds the bomber Enola Gay who dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, attempted to carry out an exhibition with the nuclear attacks to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. However, retired US military and others effectively forced the museum to cancel the plan, criticizing the display for introducing the United States as the author.

In 2015, three locations for the Manhattan Project, which resulted in the development of the atomic bomb, were designated as national parks.

In response, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demanded careful attention not to strengthen support for the use of nuclear weapons. Although an atomic bomb display was considered in Los Alamos, New Mexico, one of the locations of the previous project, the plan has not yet been realized.

Although U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor, respectively, in 2016, the difference in perception between the two nations has not been eliminated even 75 years after the atomic attacks.

When Hibakusha talk about their stories in the United States, they are often peppered with the phrase “remember Pearl Harbor”. This is because many US citizens regard atomic attacks as revenge for Japan's surprise attack.

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor was aimed at military installations, but indiscriminate atomic bombings killed many citizens, Hiroshima and Nagasaki see the use of nuclear weapons as "absolutely wrong".

Source: Asahi // Image credits: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

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