The Industrial City – Debates on Reconstruction Plans

The Industrial City – Debates on Reconstruction Plans

The Industrial City – Debates on Reconstruction Plans

After the atomic bomb castastrophe, SCAP high handedly demilitarized Hiroshima, which had been positioned itself as a military city or even military capital of Japan. Before the enactment of Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law in 1949, Hiroshima City Recovery Evaluation Committee (広島市復興審議会) was established in February 1946. 34 Reconstruction plans had been proposed by citizens, government officials, architects and foreign people in the Reconstruction Council and in newspapers.  The post-war Hiroshima was re-orienting its position as a city, whether becoming an education institutional city, an industrial city, an tourist city, or even an agricultural city in some proposal. It was thought that reconstruction from ruins would be nearly impossible. The Council was first also not optimistic about reconstruction and recovery as they planned the city for 200,000 citizens, with an estimated projection of population of 300,000 people.

Chugoku Shimbun, a news agency, organized an writing competition. Hiroshima poet Sankichi Toge (峠三吉) drew his vision, titled “1965 Hiroshima”, depicting a city for only 300,000 people. One of the deleted lines illustrating his drawings is that “after 20 years, people start to forget about the pain…but near the central park, it remains what it was, perhaps it would change the mind of people”.


The 34 proposals were very ideal despite the hardship in the post-war period, when basic living was not even secured.


The idea of construction as a peace city, maintaining the ruins caused by the atomic bomb was mentioned as early as in September 1945. The 2 September Chugoku Shimbun (中国新聞) news mentioned “preserving area around the hypocenter as a memorial”. The CEO of Asahi Sangyo Corporation Kuwabara Ichio (桑原市男) suggested construction a large memorial for 200,000 casualties in WWII, preserving 1 square kilometer of area around the hypocenter and constructing churches, temples and parks.


The proposal Hirano Kaoru (平野馨) was titled “Hiroshima Reconstruction Concept 1″ while that of Takeyasu Tadashi (竹重貞蔵) was “Hiroshima Reconstruction Concept 2″. Their plansocused on physical or hardware reconstruction, instead of peace memorial construction. This implies that peace memorial city was not the only option for Hiroshima in post-war context.


Tsunei Kusunose (楠瀬常猪), the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture suggested in 19 December 1945 in newspaper, that “Hiroshima should become a permanently neutral cultural city, and as a tourist attraction in the Seto Inland Sea region.” His proposal had also reaffirmed Hiroshima as a peace memorial city. Tomiko Takara (高良富子) proposal shared similar ideals, that area around ground-zero should be preserved, as an monument of war to promote world peace. The proposals from Nagashima Toshi(長島敏), Shichiro Sato(佐藤七郎), Takeshita Tadashi (竹下貞蔵) supported reconstruction of Hiroshima as a peace memorial city.


Illustration of  Tomiko Takara‘s Proposal, showing preserved ground-zero


Four foreigners had participated in the reconstruction plan, namely UP vice president Miles W. Vaughn (マイルス・ヴォーン); American lieutenant John D. Montgomery (ジョン・D・モンゴメリー); Australian lieutenant S. A. Jervie (S・A・ジャビー); and Washington recreation and park planing consultant “Tamu Deringu” (タム・デーリング).  S. A. Jervie was the one proposing land readjustment in Hakushima District in Hiroshima. This was innovative at that time to Hiroshima citizens. John D Montgomery, as an representative of SCAP, suggested planning consideration in terms of monumentality (記念性), preservability (保存性) and information(資料展示). He suggested transforming the area around the atomic bomb dome to a park such that people could eventually be accustomed to wound of the city.


Jervie’s Plan for Hakushima District, Hiroshima


The final plan was a combination of several proposals from the 34 plans. The major distribution is as follow:


From the above analysis, we could understand the background of Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law, other than from financial or fiscal perspective. The post-war Hiroshima reconstruction plan was a collective effort by different actors, representing different bodies. One of the most important planning concept is the preservation of area around hypocenter. It was the product of pre-war industrial advancement and was left the shell as a suggestion of the atomic bomb explosion. However, in post-war reconstruction, its transformation to a symbol of peace brings about new identity to Hiroshima. The efforts of land readjustment, 100-meter peace boulevard and preservation of green urban space should not be ignored. All these composited a new form of modernity. Hiroshima was no longer a military city, nor industrial, agricultural, education city, but positioned as a Peace Memory City reflecting by the 34 proposals.




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石丸紀興. (2011). 広島の戦災復興計画時における復興顧問 SA ジャビーの計画思想とその果たした役割に関する研究. 都市計画論文集, 46(3), 295-300.


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