Peace Memorial Museum: New director gives first tour to foreign dignitary

by Michiko Tanaka and Hiroaki Watanabe, Staff Writers

The new director of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum gave his first tour of the facility to a foreign dignitary on April 2. Kenji Shiga, 60, who had assumed his new post the day before, described the museum’s exhibits to Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, 53, Vietnam’s Minister of Health. “She listened with interest,” he said afterwards, seemingly pleased with the minister’s response to his tour.

As they stood in front of a model showing Hiroshima before and after the atomic bombing, Mr. Shiga explained, “The vicinity of the hypocenter was a bustling area whose streets were lined with shops and movie theaters.” He replied politely to questions from Ms. Nguyen, such as why the United States targeted Hiroshima. He also took her to see the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims.

“I wanted to communicate how the A-bomb deprived the people of Hiroshima of their everyday lives,” Mr. Shiga said. “She listened very intently.” For her part, Ms. Nguyen, expressed gratitude for the tour, saying she was very moved and felt how important peace is.

Ms. Nguyen came to Japan to learn about Japan’s health insurance system. She chose to come to Hiroshima, which recovered from the atomic bombing, for her visit to an area outside Tokyo. On April 2 she also toured Mitsugi Hospital in Onomichi, which has implemented a comprehensive community care system for the elderly that combines medical treatment with health and welfare programs. She was scheduled to return to Vietnam on April 3 after meeting with Hidehiko Yuzaki, governor of Hiroshima Prefecture.

(Originally published on April 3, 2013)