Preservation work on A-bomb Dome is postponed due to unsuccessful bidding process

(by Yusuke Egawa, Staff Writer)

It was reported on March 2 that the start of preservation work on the A-bomb Dome, a World Heritage site that is experiencing significant decay, has been delayed until fiscal 2019 or later because of problems that occurred in the February bidding for the preservation work contract. The preservation work was originally scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2018. The City of Hiroshima will discuss changes to the bidding conditions and then carry out a new round of bidding. A labor shortage in the construction industry is thought to be one of the reasons for the unsuccessful bidding process. The bidding for restoration work of the former Hiroshima Branch of the Bank of Japan, located in Naka Ward, ended in failure last September. The ramifications of the nationwide labor shortage have now spread to projects involving A-bombed buildings.

The City of Hiroshima designated 5.8 million yen for construction costs in its fiscal 2018 budget for repainting the steel braces and repairing the brick joints and window pillars. In mid-February, the city sought competitive bids from 12 designated companies nationwide, but none of them tendered a bid. As a result, the city was forced to postpone the start of this preservation work. The city is now weighing the idea of easing the bidding conditions to encourage construction companies to take part in the bidding process. An official from the city’s Park Development Division said that they would like to pursue another round of bidding as soon as possible in fiscal year 2019.

Behind the failed bidding attempt is the nationwide labor shortage in the construction industry caused by the flurry of construction for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. With regard to the preservation work of the A-bombed buildings, the City of Hiroshima carried out biddings for restoration work on the former Hiroshima Branch of the Bank of Japan in October 2017 and in March and September of 2018. However, a construction company for this work has yet to be chosen. And last July, parts of western Japan were hit by torrential rain. In most of the restoration work planned in Hiroshima Prefecture, the bidding ended in failure because the number of bidders was insufficient or because the bid amounts were higher than the budgeted cost of the work.

The City of Hiroshima undertakes major repairs and seismic reinforcements of the A-bomb Dome on an as-needed basis. The next preservation work will be the fifth such project and follows the previous work that was carried out from November 2015 to July 2016.


Preservation of the A-bomb Dome
The building that became the A-bomb Dome was originally known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. It was constructed beside the Motoyasu River in 1915, and its name was later changed to the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall in 1933. The building was hit by the A-bomb blast in 1945, and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. The City of Hiroshima performed the first preservation work in 1967, when steel braces were installed to support the wall surfaces from the inside and epoxy resin was injected to reinforce the structure. Further work was undertaken in 1989, 2002, and 2015. An “Advisory Committee on Techniques for Preservation of the Atomic Bomb Dome,” comprised of experts and academics, was established to discuss the repair methods. With regard to the fifth preservation work project, which had been scheduled to begin within fiscal 2018, the committee agreed on a specific method in September 2018, which consists of chemically treating the rust on the original steel braces before repainting them.

(Originally published on March 3, 2019)