Hiroshima – A Born-again City of Peacebuilding

After the catastrophic atomic bombing, Hiroshima City’s peace administration undertook the significant role of promoting the reconstruction process by creating a new identity of peace for Hiroshima.  In 1947, two years after the bombing, the first Peace Festival was held by the city with the intent to promote the idea of lasting peace (Figure 1).  In fact, the Peace Festival marked the start of the peace movement when the citizens began to call for world peace, which gathered sympathy not only from within Japan, but from around the world through Peace Declaration.  During the peace movement, there were negotiations about whether the A-bomb Dome should be preserved or torn down, and discussions were frequently held among citizens.  As the urban area became reconstructed and the A-bombed structures disappeared gradually, the public began to show stronger support for its preservation.  The Hiroshima citizens proposed to preserve the A-bomb dome to visualize the realities of the atomic bombing and to pass on the survivors’ experiences of the bombing.  Today, the peace festival is renamed the Peace Memorial Ceremony and is held annually to convey Hiroshima’s wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace.

Figure 1. The promotion of the Peace Festival

However, during the peacebuilding process of the city, the Hiroshima city planning encountered different problems in reconstruction such as financial difficulties, lack of human resources, and shortage of materials and public lands.  In order to obtain more financial budget and push forward reconstruction, in 1949 the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law was enacted which paved the way for special assistance from the central government (Figure 2). As stated under Article 1 of the law, “Hiroshima is to be a peace memorial city symbolizing the human ideal of the sincere pursuit of genuine and lasting peace”. In 1949, a special project for constructing peace memorial facilities was implemented under the “Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Plan”, and a design competition for the peace memorial park was conducted, which attracted attention as a new trend in the field of architectural design.

Figure 2. The implementation of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law

Bibliography

Cho, H. (2011). Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Making of Japanese Postwar Architecture

“Hiroshima for Global Peace” Plan Join Project Executive Committee. (2015).  Hiroshima’s Path to Reconstruction.

Hiroshima’s Recovery. Hiroshima Peace Site. Retrieved from http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/Peace/E/pHiroshima2_3.html#

1 Comment on “Hiroshima – A Born-again City of Peacebuilding

  1. The idea of a city as a symbol of peace was unique and surprising as most urban planning movements related a city to urbanization and modernization. Interestingly, Hiroshima did not become a city of peace because of its peacefulness. On the contrary, it experienced a very tragic war-like nuclear incident that shocked the world such that Hiroshima understood the value of humanity and peacefulness. It inspires me the possibility of architecture that it could symbolize intangible concepts such as peace memorial or embody the memories of the past.

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