Hiroshima budget plan for fiscal 2010 includes efforts for peace

by Uzaemonnaotsuka Tokai, Staff Writer

On February 9, the City of Hiroshima announced its initial budget for the new fiscal year starting on April 1, amounting to 591.638 billion yen. The budget incorporates various measures including emergency economic steps to cope with a stagnating local economy. Other areas of focus are jobs and education, as well as the atomic bombing and peace issues.

At a news conference, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba stressed, "We would like to steadily implement measures that will enable the city to be a model for the world, even under severe fiscal conditions." Concerning the Summer Olympic Games, Mr. Akiba indicated his intention to announce the basic plan by summer and come to a decision within this year whether the city bids for the Games.

Below are several of the items in the budget representing the peace efforts of the city.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to be renovated

The City of Hiroshima will implement a renovation project involving Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The city will allocate 122 million yen for the basic construction cost and other costs. In fiscal 2011, the design will be finalized. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2016, the East Building of the museum will be renovated; between fiscal years 2014 and 2016, the Main Building of the museum and the elevated corridor connecting the two buildings will be renovated. The total project cost is set at 4.7 billion yen.

The draft plan of the renovation shows that direct escalators will be newly established from the first floor to the third floor of the East Building so that the start point of visiting the museum will change. The plan includes: First, visitors will be exposed to introductory exhibits presenting the reality of the atomic bombing with visual images and photographs; second, visitors will move to the Main Building to see personal mementos of the A-bomb victims, which convey the horror of the bombing; and third, visitors will return to the East Building to learn about the city's reconstruction efforts. The renovation project will accomplish a major renewal of the exhibits.

The city is also considering an upgrading of the Main Building to earthquake-resistance standards, as the facility is now aging. It also envisions creating a new corner where visitors can share their thoughts and write messages after moving through the museum. A new committee comprised of experts from various fields will officially determine the basic renovation plan based on the draft plan presented by the city in late February, and submit its plan to the city by the end of March.

The Main Building of the museum opened in 1955, while the East Building opened in 1994. In fiscal 2008, approximately 1.35 million visitors from both Japan and abroad visited the museum. The city plans to maintain a portion of the exhibits for the public during the renovation period. This will be the second renovation project after the one conducted between fiscal years 1988 and 1993.

Other peace efforts by the city

This August, the City of Hiroshima will hold the 2020 Nuclear Abolition Hiroshima Conference (tentative name) at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. The city expects approximately 300 members of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and experts in the field of peace issues to take part in the event. Based on the discussions at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to be held in May in the United States, the participants will discuss such matters as drafting treaties by NGOs and nations with shared visions to accelerate the international movement to abolish nuclear weapons.

The city will also launch a new committee to discuss the proposed Paper Crane Museum (tentative name) where paper cranes received in Hiroshima from throughout the world can be preserved and exhibited for a long period of time. Establishing the museum is one of the campaign pledges made by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba during the mayoral election campaign of 2007. The city's Peace Promotion Division said that "the committee will discuss the size and location of the museum."

In addition, the city will pursue meteorological simulation research to confirm the area of the "black rain" which fell in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing.

Similar research was conducted between 1988 and 1990 by a committee comprised of experts in Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City. After this research, the committee concluded that "the vast majority of the rain fell in the area between three and nine kilometers north-northwest of the bomb's hypocenter." The committee then recommended that the area be designated by the national government as the Health Examination Special Designated Area.

However, experts in the field later pointed out that "The meteorological calculation model that was used at the time has become obsolete. The height used for the mushroom cloud was inaccurate." Therefore the city has decided to conduct the research again employing the latest meteorological simulation program and computer analysis. The city will reexamine the black rainfall area in two years, and is intent on having the data be used as a solid basis for the national government to expand the Health Examination Special Designated Area.

(Originally published on February 10, 2010)