Hiroshima : 70 Years After the A-bombing

Hiroshima Asks: Toward the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing: A-bomb exhibition is held at American University in U.S. capital for first time in 20 years

by Keiichiro Yamamoto, Staff Writer

“It was like hell,” said Sadao Yamamoto, 84, describing the scene he witnessed 70 years ago. On June 13, the Hiroshima A-bomb survivor recounted his experience in an event tied to the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition,” taking place at American University in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, co-sponsored by the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and American University, opened that same day. Mr. Yamamoto conveyed the inhumanity of nuclear arms to citizens of the nuclear superpower in the U.S. capital, the center of the nation’s politics and administration.

Among the artifacts on display is a pocket watch, its hands frozen at 8:15 a.m., the time of the Hiroshima bombing. Along with photo panels, the exhibition also features six paintings from The Hiroshima Panels, a series of 15 paintings which depict the atomic bombing. The paintings by the late Iri and Toshi Maruki are held by the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels, a museum located in Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture. This is the first time that the paintings are being shown in Washington D.C.

This is the first A-bomb exhibition to be held at the university in 20 years. In 1995, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. planned to hold an exhibition of materials related to the atomic bombings, but the exhibition was canceled because of opposition from U.S. veterans. Amid heated controversy over its cancellation, the university dared to hold the exhibition on its campus.

Peter Kuznick, a professor at American University, has played a leading role in realizing both exhibitions at American University. He said that it is still necessary, and as significant as ever, to reconsider the idea that the atomic bombings were a greater good in helping to end the war more quickly, a commonly-held belief in the United States. Professor Kuznick also said that public opinion in the United States has not changed very much over the past 20 years.

(Originally published on June 20, 2015)