Peace park in South Korea to be built with support from Hiroshima citizens

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

Volunteers in Hiroshima, including A-bomb survivors, established a working committee on August 15 to support an effort to build a peace park in Hapcheon, South Korea, an area from which about 5000 people are believed to have experienced the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. The committee will launch a campaign, including a drive to raise funds, in conjunction with this effort.

Hiroshi Maruya, 83, honorary director of Hiroshima Kyouritsu Hospital, and Motofumi Asai, 67, president of the Hiroshima Peace Institute, are heading the committee, which includes six other members. The committee members have formed the tentatively-named “Association to Help Build Hapcheon World Peace Park” and will now draw up more detailed plans for the association, coordinate their activities with the South Korean Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association, and look into making contact with South Korean lawmakers.

In South Korea, the Hapcheon branch of the South Korean Atomic Bomb Sufferers Association, which had 642 members as of August 2007, and Korean lawmakers have played a central role in plans to build the Hapcheon World Peace Park since 2005. According to these plans, the park will cover an area of approximately 100,000 square meters and the estimated cost of building the park is about 4 billion yen.

After Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, many Korean people were deprived of their land and left the Korean Peninsula for Japan. Some came with the promise of work; others were forcibly brought over. A number of farmers from Hapcheon also came to Hiroshima, where they experienced the atomic bombing and were exposed to its radiation. Survivors returned to Korea after World War II ended, but had lost family members and property by that point.

“We mustn’t forget the fact that many Korean people also became victims of the A-bomb,” remarked Dr. Maruya, when interviewed at Hiroshima City Hall.

(Originally published on August 16, 2008)