Former classmates compiling booklet on girl whose diary inspired A-bomb Dome preservation

by Junichiro Hayashi, Staff Writer

Former classmates of a girl whose diary led to the preservation of the A-bomb Dome have decided to compile a booklet dedicated to their late friend. Hiroko Kajiyama was exposed to the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and died of leukemia at the age of 16 in 1960. Her diary gave rise to a movement to preserve the A-bomb Dome, located in downtown Hiroshima. This summer, three of her junior high school classmates will collect information for the booklet, which will first be distributed to her acquaintances.

The three former classmates from Fuchu Junior High School, in the town of Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, are Katsufumi Yoshimura, 69, a resident of Fuchu, Hidetsugu Nakamura, 69, a resident of Naka Ward, Hiroshima, and Masahiro Terada, 69, a resident of Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima. They started collecting information for the booklet in June, consulting Ms. Kajiyama’s diary housed in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Ms. Kajiyama was exposed to the atomic bombing while at home in the Hiratsuka area, part of Naka Ward, when she was just a year old. She began keeping a diary in March 1959, the month she graduated from junior high school. She then continued writing in the A5 size notebook until she passed away suddenly in April 1960, when she was in her second year at Gion High School.

An entry dated August 6, 1959, says to the effect that only the pitiful sight of the Industrial Promotion Hall (now, the A-bomb Dome) will continue to bear witness to the horror of the atomic bombing. It was this entry that inspired a movement to preserve the devastated building. Amid the heated debate over whether or not the building should be preserved, the Hiroshima Paper Crane Club launched a drive to gather signatures and collect donations. In 1966 the City of Hiroshima made the official decision to preserve it, and 30 years later, in 1996, the A-bomb Dome was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“The small seed that Ms. Kajiyama planted grew into a great groundswell. I want to shed light on her wish by producing the booklet about her,” Mr. Yoshimura said. He had been moved to act when he found a newspaper clipping about Ms. Kajiyama written by a younger student from the same high school that she attended.

The three former classmates remember Ms. Kajiyama as an “active girl who was good at writing.” The booklet will include a brief summary of her diary and interviews with her friends. People with information about Ms. Kajiyama are encouraged to contact Mr. Yoshimura at 082-282-9233.

(Originally published on July 23, 2012)