Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum sees two-year decline in visitors

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation announced on April 18 that the number of visitors to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has declined for the second year in a row. A total of 1,213,702 people visited the museum in fiscal 2011, a decrease of 116,140 people, or 8.7 percent, from fiscal 2010. The main reason for this decline is the large drop in the number of international visitors, which has fallen to almost half when compared to the year prior to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, which occurred in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the same time, the number of students on school excursions rose for the first time in two years.

The number of international visitors stood at 96,510, a significant decline of 85,337 visitors, or 46.9 percent, from the record-high number of 181,847 in fiscal 2010.

The 327,610 elementary, junior high, and high school students who visited the museum in groups for school or in other group outings rose by 19,060 students, or 6.2 percent. By region, the increase was highest for visitors from the Chubu region, at 37 percent, followed by the Kanto region, at 14.9 percent, and the Kinki region, at 10.5 percent. This increase is attributed to the earthquake that struck the Tohoku region, as a number of schools changed the destination of their school trips from the Kanto and Tohoku regions to other parts of Japan, including Hiroshima.

Peace Memorial Museum opened its doors in 1955 and experienced its highest number of visitors in 1991, with 1,593,280 people touring the museum. Koichiro Maeda, the current director of the museum, said, “The number of international visitors this year shows signs of recovery as well. We hope to increase the number of visitors by strengthening our efforts to get the word out via the Internet and other means.”

Hiroshima National Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, also located in Peace Memorial Park, will mark its 10th anniversary this August. The number of visitors to the hall was 190,075 in fiscal 2011, a record-low since the facility opened in 2002, with 11.7 percent fewer visitors than the previous low, or a drop of 25,064 people.

(Originally published on April 19, 2012)