Please preserve Hiroshima’s largest A-bombed buildings
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Four big, red brick buildings stand in Hiroshima city’s Deshio neighborhood. They were built in 1913 and used as warehouses by the former Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot. The buildings survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
Mr. Iwao Nakanishi, who was 15 years old at the time of the atomic bombing, witnessed many injured people dying at the buildings that day. He says he cannot forget the corpse of a burned woman still holding her baby in her arms. “We must not forget that many people died here.” Mr. Nakanishi is sow 89 years old but still speaks out about the importance of the total preservation of the site.
A Hiroshima Prefectural Government committee said Dec. 4 that it plans by fiscal 2022 to demolish two out of the three prefecture-owned buildings of the former Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot.” According to them, it is difficult to preserve all the buildings due to insufficient funds to adequately earthquake-proof them as they age.
We want to preserve all the buildings for the following three reasons.
1) Value of the architecture
The buildings were built in the 1910s; they are some of the oldest buildings made with reinforced concrete in Japan. One building is 94 meters long with three floors and standing 17 meters high. Buildings made with reinforced concrete and red brick exteriors are rare in architectural history. Masayuki Miura, Hiroshima University professor, says the buildings are valuable enough to be designated as important cultural property of Japan.
2) The only remaining buildings which share the history of “Army City Hiroshima”
Hiroshima was a military city for a long time, from the late 19th century until the end of WWII. There were many military-related factories and facilities, including the Army Ordnance Supply Depot, the Army Provision Depot and the Army Clothing Depot. Soldiers’ clothes, shoes, bags and belts were stored, washed and distributed in the Clothing Depot, in preparation for soldiers leaving from Ujina Port. It is said that many employees, mobilized students and foreign workers including Koreans, were working here.
There were Army Clothing Depots in Tokyo and Osaka as well, but only these warehouses in Hiroshima remain. This is a significant place, where visitors can get a feel for the huge scale of the Japanese military industry during the days of the Japanese empire.
Someone who worked there during WWII says she washed soldiers’ used clothes, stained with blood and bullet marks, so that they could be reused.
3) As “survivors” of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
The buildings are located 2.7 km from the atomic bomb’s hypocenter. Part of buildings’ outer wall was lifted by the blast; today it is displayed in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Visitors can also see the buildings’ iron doors that were bent by the bomb’s blast to feel how powerful the explosion was.
Countless people used the buildings as an evacuation shelter as they fled the burning city following the bombing. The warehouses were packed with heavily injured people, and many of them died without being identified. Famous poet Sankichi Toge described the scene in one of his poem.
Today, the site is used for as a destination for school trips and by various groups for peace education.
With one atomic bomb, buildings were destroyed, the city was reduced to rubble and people’s precious lives disappeared. Moreover, many A-bombed buildings have already been demolished due to insufficient funding to make them earthquake-proof. We are opposed to the demolition of these buildings, which miraculously survived the A-bomb, to serve human convenience. In this place, we can understand what Hiroshima was like long before the atomic bombing. We must preserve the stories they convey in this city of international peace culture.
We strongly want to preserve all four buildings of the former Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot. We ask the owners of buildings, Hiroshima Prefectural Government and the Japanese Government, to support their continued and total preservation.
“Locals fight to save 100 year old A-bombed buildings from demolition”(Written by Paul Walsh on GetHiroshima.com)
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