Striving to fill voids in Hiroshima―In a first, photo of Chinese student exposed to A-bombing at women’s dormitory registered with Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall

by Michiko Tanaka, Senior Staff Writer

On December 29, at the end of 2022, a photograph of a student from mainland China who had experienced the atomic bombing in Hiroshima was registered for the first time with the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, located in the city’s Naka Ward. Guiwen Zhao, then 26 years of age, was from Manchukuo (now, part of northeastern China), a territory that was ruled by the Imperial Japanese Army. Ms. Zhao studied at the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science (now Hiroshima University). Yichuan Zhou, 67, a visiting researcher at the Institute for Humanities Research in Kanagawa University, was the person who applied for registration of Ms. Zhao with the memorial hall.

Ms. Zhao was from what is the present-day province of Liaoning in China. In 1941, she entered Nara Women’s Higher Normal School (now Nara Women’s University), and after graduating in 1944, she went on to the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science. On August 6, 1945, she is believed to have experienced the atomic bombing at a dormitory for women students in what is now the area of Nekoya-cho, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward. A male student at the same university who was from Manchukuo and engaged to Ms. Zhao was also killed in the A-bombing. The remains of the two students have never been found.

Ms. Zhou researches the history of educational exchange between Japan and China. In 2010, she interviewed Ms. Zhao’s classmates from when they were students together at Nara Women’s Higher Normal School and made copies of photos from that time. The names and photos of four Chinese nationals who had been forcibly taken to Hiroshima during World War II and died in the A-bombing are registered with the Peace Memorial Hall. However, this is the first time that information about a student from China has been registered in the facility. Ms. Zhou has indicated she would like to widely communicate the reality that among the victims of the A-bombing was a female student from China. The photo of Ms. Zhao can be viewed at the Peace Memorial Hall starting January 1, 2023.

Among the total of 12 students from China who experienced the A-bombing in Hiroshima, six died. Of the six who survived, only one is believed to still be alive.

(Originally published on December 29, 2022)