The LDP’s parliamentarians’ association says an “adequate number” out of four Former Army Clothing Depot buildings to be preserved

(by Yo Kono, Staff Writer)

“The parliamentarians’ association to promote relief to A-bomb survivors, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the realization of lasting world peace” of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a general assembly at the party’s headquarters March 5, and resolved to “preserve an adequate number of buildings out of four Former Army Clothing Depot buildings (Minami Ward) by taking into account its value as an A-bombed structure” the largest of its scale in Hiroshima City.

There were five attendees in the meeting, including Takeo Kawamura, a former Chief Cabinet Secretary and chairman of the association (a representative of the third district of Yamaguchi), Hiroshi Hiraguchi, secretary general (a representative of the second district of Hiroshima), and Shogo Azemoto (a representative from the Chugoku district in the proportional representation). As for the reason they decided to keep an “adequate number” of the buildings, Mr. Hiraguchi explained, “We thought about preserving all, but we have not carried out in-depth discussion about how much the national government can bear the cost of maintenance,” and gained consent.

The resolution says the government should “bear the proportionate share of the cost.” Regarding the utilization of the Depot, “a facility for children to learn peace” was added to the original five ideas, which include “a space to place a thousand cranes,” following the proposal by Mr. Azemoto.

The association had two meetings this year, and visited the site on February 22. They will submit the resolution to Katsunobu Kato, the Health, Labor and Welfare Minister (and a representative from the fifth district of Okayama), in the near future. They also plan to deliver it to the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture and the mayor of Hiroshima City.

Commentary: We need to rack our brains about how to secure the financial resources

The LDP lawmakers discussed the ways, by focusing on its historical significance, to preserve the Former Army Clothing Depot. A vague expression of an “adequate number,” and not “all,” was used in the March 5 resolution solely because of the financial issue.

According to the provisional calculation by Hiroshima Prefecture, 3.3 billion yen is needed for each building to make it earthquake resistant, amounting to more than 10 billion yen if the seismic reinforcement work is conducted on all buildings. However, grants from the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is estimated no more than tens of millions of yen a year per application. Judging from the present situation, the association said, “It is difficult to request keeping of them at this point as we haven’t been able to find the resources.”

After the assembly, Mr. Kawamura also said, “We, too, have a strong desire to preserve all four buildings.” They intend to continue to explore the ways to obtain the resources including outside funds.

As the number of A-bomb survivors is dwindling, preserving the A-bomb structures, which convey the catastrophic consequences of the atomic bombing, would be of great significance. Instead of just watching the local argument, the government should actively join the debate, work hard with the city and the prefecture, and rack their brains to preserve these witnesses of history.

(Originally published on March 6, 2020)