Hiroshima/ Change in identity of Hiroshima in post-war reconstruction

Remembrance as the anchor of the post-war reconstruction

After the atomic bomb’s denotation in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, ruins and fire swept the city. The post-war reconstruction started at high speed following the 1948 “Peace Memorial City Construction Law” and the administrative project aiming to rebuilt Hiroshima into an “International Peace and Cultural City” in post-1970. In contrast to the identity of Hiroshima before the atomic bomb attack, which was the military center with elevating concentration of military facilities during the two world wars, the city of peace became its new identity. The dramatic shift from a military city to the mecca of peace did not stop the city from gaining the international attention, as it turned out to be the desirable location for holding international conferences on peace as well as social issues. The choice of the ideology in reconstruction of the city did not only help Hiroshima recover from its pain, but also acted a remembrance of destruction resulting from the nation’s aggression in the Second World War.

The Peace Memorial Park designed by Kenzo Tange was one of the determining moves in reinventing the city with a large peace memorial. The choice of its location, situated at the heart of the city and close to the area of gound, signified the project as the symbol of the city. Accommodating a number of memorials and monuments, museums and assembly hall, including the ruin of the former Industry Promotion Hall (now called the Atomic Bomb Dome), the Peace Memorial Park functions as an official site in remembrance of the world’s first atomic attack. Apart from attracting visitors from all over the world each year to learn the history and console for the victims, the park was the significant venue for holding the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony each year, where citizens including the families of the deceased console the victims and pray for the lasting world peace.

The rejection of introducing new urban planning ideologies prevailing in the world in the 1950s did not deter Hiroshima from reborn and emergence as a prosperous city in the past decades. However, the conservation of the ruins and respect of the history gave it a new and remarkable position as the City of Peace in Japan.

Proposed Plan of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by Kenzo Tange
Proposed Plan of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by Kenzo Tange

2 Comments on “Hiroshima/ Change in identity of Hiroshima in post-war reconstruction

  1. This notion of a “city of remembrance” is very well argued here, in part because it is an unambiguous postwar theme in Japan. It will be great to complete this documentation with more historical documentation from that specific period that shows the multiple production of park plans, even failed or unimplemented examples (as alluded to earlier). It is also important to identify the debates of how this green is politicized in Japan and given far greater clout in Hiroshima – how they lead to improved urban forms and functions, or how they impede growth or other competing functions in the city. Is the greening infrastructure budget unusually large because of the park plans? Are there unique zoning guidelines for how buildings or city blocks were conceived to give way to the parks in the city, such as how the pilotis design in Tange’s Peace Memorial allows the park grounds to run through unimpeded?

  2. The dropping of the atomic-bomb did not only bring about physical destruction; it also created a need for Hiroshima to search for new peacebuilding policies. The case of Hiroshima embodies an interesting case of post-war reconstruction in a Japanese local city, which revitalized itself from complete devastation. It illustrates its own distinctive historical nature, although this does not mean that Hiroshima is completely different from and irrelevant to other cases of post-war reconstruction. It’s interesting to see the historical transformation from “Hiroshima as a military city” to “Hiroshima as a peace city” coinciding with Japan’s historical transformation from its identity as a militaristic nation to that as a pacifist nation.

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