Hiroshima/Acceptance of Peace Memorial Park project
Acceptance of Peace Memorial Park project
The tremendous physical and psychological destruction done by the atomic bomb attack in Hiroshima was undeniable. The city encountered great impacts in social, economic and environment, which required decades for complete recovery. One may wonder why would the city offer the large central area for the construction of a peace memorial, which was the heart of the city merging the main roads with concentrated military facilities during the pre-war period, while the city was in desperate demand for housing and facilities catering for the social need. Once considering the political stance and social psychological needs, the construction of the peace memorial park overweighs the approach of redeeming the residential and economic loss.
As mentioned in the previous arguments, the Hiroshima authority initiated the peace memorial project under the consultation of foreign urban planners. The idea of reinventing the city as the site for world peace was particularly attractive to city planners, thus persuasive to receive financial aid from the central government. Under the Allied occupation, the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces enthusiastically support, especially the idea of reconstructing the city as an international showcase for exhibiting the link between the atomic bomb and postwar peace.
The mayor of Hiroshima defined the civic ambition of the city’s reconstruction in August 1949: ‘’ the people of Hiroshima decided definitely to stand for peace and wanted to demonstrate it to the world by molding their ruined community into a monument of permanent peace.” Such effect was claimed to reflect a shared interest between the U.S. occupation force and the Japanese: the former wanted to dissociate Hiroshima’s disaster from the atomic bomb used by the U.S. military, while the latter hoped to deny any causal relationship between the attack and the nation’s aggression in its Asian colonies. The peace narrative was believed to be the supporter of the ideology of “starting over”, calling for amnesia about the wartime sorrow of Hiroshima and other Japan’s Asian colonies.
The shift in perceiving Hiroshima from a painful reminder of destruction to a hopeful monument of world peace was clearly delivered in Tange’s statement in his prize-winning proposal “Peace is not naturally given from the gods, but it should be searched for. This facility is not meant to commemorate peace in an abstract way, but it is for actively producing peace. I hope that my building works as a factory for peace.” The project did not only commemorate the victims of Hiroshima, but also give hope to its future associated with the pursuit of world peace. Unlike the many other post-war reconstruction, the repositioning of Hiroshima as a peace exhibiting city speed up its recovery together with its nation.