Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6 will be held with reserved seating for 3,550, four times 2020 and 2021 numbers but one-third pre-pandemic numbers

In first for ceremony, city government will recruit in advance people wishing to attend

by Taiki Yomura, Staff Writer

On May 20, the Hiroshima City government announced it would hold this year’s August 6 Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, located in city’s Naka Ward, with participant seating for about 3,550 people. That number is four times as many as the numbers of seats provided in 2020 and 2021, when the ceremony was held on a reduced scale to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The city will also provide seating for the general public and overseas visitors for the first time in three years and, in a first for the ceremony, recruit in advance people wishing to attend the ceremony.

The number of seats at the venue will be about one-third the seating for 11,500 participants typically provided for the event before the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, the seating numbers were reduced to 880, with individual seats situated at a distance of two meters apart. This year, the distance between seats will be reduced to one meter for most of the seating, with the aim of allowing space for more seats. Attendees will be asked to wear masks. Seating for A-bomb survivors and bereaved family representatives from prefectures nationwide, many of whom are elderly, will be arranged two meters apart, and the city government will not ask those attendees to wear masks as a measure to prevent cases of heat stroke.

The seating will number 1,000 for the general public, 250 for A-bomb survivors and bereaved family members, 1,200 for elementary and junior high school students who will be visiting Hiroshima from throughout Japan for peace-study programs, and 100 for overseas visitors. Application for seating is scheduled to begin on May 20 for students and June 10 for everyone else. Attendees will be selected based on a special drawing; non-reserved seating will not be available for this year’s ceremony.

The ceremony’s program will remain the same as in usual years and include the Peace Declaration announced by Hiroshima’s mayor, and the Commitment to Peace read by youth representatives. The zone into which entry is prohibited from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on that day will remain about three times larger than the size of the usual restricted area, as was also the case in 2020 and 2021.

In both 2020 and 2021, attendees were limited to invited guests, including bereaved family representatives from prefectures nationwide and ambassadors to Japan from various countries, resulting in fewer than 800 participants at the ceremony. As the conditions for holding such events have been eased, the city government decided to increase the number of attendees to a certain level while implementing increasingly thorough measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A staff member at the Citizens Activities Promotion Division of the Hiroshima City government said, “We received many requests from people wishing to attend the ceremony because the ceremony has recently been scaled down in size. Given the preventive measures put in place, we hope to invite as many people as is possible given the circumstances to ensure that the ceremony can serve as a venue for the offering of prayers to the A-bomb victims and of wishes for world peace.

(Originally published on May 21, 2022)