A-bombed remains are found at site of planned construction for public restroom in Peace Memorial Park

by Hiroaki Watanabe, Staff Writer

On November 24, it was learned that some remains from the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, including the surface of the ground still as it was in the aftermath of the A-bomb attack, have been unearthed from a site near the Atomic Bomb Dome in the Peace Memorial Park. This location is where the City of Hiroshima has been planning to build a public restroom. The city has now cancelled the bidding for construction work and is considering how to move forward with a careful investigation of the site.

The site is located southeast of the A-bomb Dome, an area designated as a historic site and place of scenic beauty by the national government. Before the atomic bombing, this location is thought to have been within the grounds of Saikoji Temple, part of the former Saiku-machi district. According to city officials, the trees that had stood here were transplanted to another location in late August. On September 20, preliminary digging was performed prior to the construction work, and during this phase some remains, about 40 centimeters underground, were discovered, including gray soil which indicates the burnt surface of the land at the time of the bombing and stones that are believed to be gravestones. The site has now been filled in again and is currently vacant, awaiting the city’s next moves.

After the presence of A-bombed remains was confirmed at this location, the city promptly cancelled its plan to hold public bidding for the construction of the restroom. It is now likely that this new construction project, which was expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year, will be delayed. The city estimates that a full investigation of the site may, if necessary, continue until the end of the fiscal year. An official at the city’s Park Development Division said, “The construction of the public restroom will start after the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6 of next year.”

There are currently five public restrooms in the park, and the city plans to rebuild four of them. A shift from Japanese-style toilets to western-style toilets is now underway so that international visitors can use these facilities comfortably. The work on two restrooms is already finished. One is a newly-constructed restroom located next to the Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the A-bomb. During the preliminary investigation that took place prior to the construction of this building, no A-bombed remains were found. The other restroom stands north of the Peace Memorial Museum’s east building and has been rebuilt in the same location.

The official from the city’s Park Development Division said, “The construction work will be carefully carried out through discussions with the division in charge of cultural assets.” Within the park, other A-bombed remains have been found beneath the Peace Memorial Museum’s main building, which is undergoing seismic reinforcement work.

(Originally published on November 25, 2017)