@69 days until Hiroshima Summit: Air defense operations room

by Yota Baba, Staff Writer

“Hiroshima has been totally annihilated,” the first message about the atomic bombing, was sent from the air defense operations room of the Chugoku Military District Headquarters located on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle (now part of the city’s Naka Ward). Mobilized schoolgirls took turns working in the semi-basement room, communicating information about attacks by enemy aircraft day and night.

Yoshie Oka, who informed a military unit in Fukuyama of the “total annihilation,” passed on her memories to students at the site of the operations room until her death in 2017. When she sent the message, the reply was, “Annihilation? No way! Tell me the reason.” Using the words of a soldier who had fallen flat outside, she told the unit, “We have been hit by a new-type bomb.”

As its concrete ceiling is peeling off, the room is in a dangerous condition. The city government stopped opening it to the public in fiscal 2017, and is currently discussing ways to preserve it.

(Originally published on March 11, 2023)