Number of visitors to Peace Memorial Museum exceeds 1.3 million in past fiscal year

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation announced on April 15 that the number of visitors to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum during fiscal 2007, which ended on March 31, 2008, totaled 1,339,400, an increase of 8% from the previous year. The number has increased for three consecutive years and exceeded 1.3 million for the first time in ten years. In addition to a large rise in foreign visitors, a ripple effect is apparently being felt from a new World Heritage Site in a neighboring prefecture, the Iwami-Ginzan Silver Mine Ruins.

One clear pattern that has emerged in the analysis of visitor data is the increase of foreign visitors, with record-highs for four consecutive years. In fiscal 2007, there were 174,815 foreign visitors, about 25,000 more than the previous year, a 17.2% increase.

The upswing in the number of foreign visitors has been evident since the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. As for fiscal 2007, the foundation analyzed, “The fact that Hiroshima was highly rated in a travel guidebook published in France, along with the depreciation of the yen, served to add impetus to this increase.”

Total visitors to the museum declined in the 1990s, but turned upward in 2005, the year marking the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing. This rise continued throughout fiscal 2007, reaching just over 80% of the record-high year of 1991, when 1,593,280 people visited the museum. Museum Director Koichiro Maeda observed, “More tourists are stopping by Hiroshima on their way to the Iwami-Ginzan Silver Mine Ruins.”

However, the number of students who visit the museum on school field trips fell to less than 300,000 for the first time since 1983, when the museum began maintaining statistics. The exact number was 298,803, with a decrease of 1.4% from the previous year. One reason for this drop might be attributed to the decline in the number of the nation’s children as a whole.

The number of visitors to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims was 210,508, an increase of 2.9 % from the previous year and the first increase in two years. The number of names and photos of A-bomb victims collected during fiscal 2007 was 724, totaling less than 1,000 for the first time.