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6.2 - Stefanie Scafer ‘The Hiroshima Peace Memorial...

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Unformatted text preview: Stefanie Scafer, ‘The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its Exhibition’ in: The Power of Memory in Modern Japan, Sven Saaier and Wolfgang Schwentker, Giobai Oriental, Folkestone, 2008, pp. 155-170. COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA Copyright Regufations 1 969 Warning This material has been reproduced and communicated to you by or on behalf of the University of Melbourne pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further copying or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act. Do not re move this notice THE POWER OF MEMORY IN MODERN JAPAN Edited by Sven Saaler and Wolfgang Schwentker 63 GLOBAL ORIENTAL 154 Institutions ofMemory: Memorials, Museums, National Heroes 32 See ’Kinoshita Naoyuki, Yamagata Aritomo-zo to Yamamoto Isoroku- 20' in Tan’o Yasunori (ed), Kioku to rekishi (Tokyo: Waseda daigaku Aizu Yaichi kinen hakubutsukan, 2007), p.69. 33 ‘Chfirei-to, chfikon-hi to no sochi ni kan suru tsucho' (27 November 1946), Yasukuni hyakunen-shi: shiryo hen (geknn), pp. 89, 90. 34 See ‘Tokyo no (load (15): Sengo no junan', Tokyo Shinbtm (17 November 959 . 35 gee 'lzanaka Shfiji, Kindai Nihon saisho no chokokukn (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1994), pp. 250—2. 3“ Ibid., pp. 160—197. 37 Ibid. I 33 Tan'o Yasunori and Kawata Akihisa, imeji' no naka no sense (Tokyo: lwanami Shoten, 1996), p. 34. I 39 The name of this hill is borrowed from another limoriyama hill, located next to Kobe, where Kusunoki Masashige committed suicide in 1348 after his defeat against Ashikaga troops. It is therefore a metaphorical transpo- sition (mitate), which reactivares in Aizu the great deeds of one of the most important heroes of the Meiji Restoration. . i 40 The complete epigraph is as follow: ‘S.P.Q.R. nel segno del littorio R‘oma madre di civilta con la millenon'a colonna testimone d’eternrr gmndezzo tribute onore imperituro alto memoria degli eroi di‘ Biacco—tai [51's.]. Anna MCMXX VIII, VI era fascista’; and elsewhere: ‘Ailo spirito dei bushido’. 4‘ Hasso von Etzdorf (1900—89) was a German diplomat and seeretary at the German embassy in Italy at the beginning of the 19305. He had a brilliant career in the West German foreign office administration after the war, becoming Ambassador succesively to Canada and Great Britain. —._._._._--.u' ....i 9 The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its Exhibition“L STEFANIE SCHAFER INTRODUCTION hen describing the last six decades of Japanese history one can hardly avoid the term 'post-war'. This era was frequently defined in accordance to what it was not, to what it had Overcome — that is, the war. By calling the present ’post-war', people would reassure themselves that the war was over and yet reaffirm the fundamental connection between now and then. While the past meant suffering, their present was characterized by peace and prosperity. Recently there have been many attempts to write a history of post-war Japan through changing memories of the War, but probably no war memory reflects the dualism of present and past, peace and war so fiercely as the memories of the first atomic bombing ~ Hiroshima, 6 August 1945. This paper aims to reconstruct the history of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Shiryokon) and its exhibition from the days of its founding until today. The museum’s history-telling and related discussions serve as a subtext to how the past was under» stood and how this understanding might have changed during the museum's existence. The different images of the past thereby testify for their respective presents. At the same time the exhibition’s history offers insight into the predicaments of official commemoration in general and of remembrance in Hiroshima in particular. THE FOUNDING AND THE EARLY YEARS OF THE MUSEUM On 2 September 1945, only a few weeks after the bombing, the prefec- ture of Hiroshima announced a first plan ’to mark out a sufficiently large 156 Institutions of Memory: Memorials, Museums, National Heroes territory close to the centre of the atomic explosion and to keep it as a commemorative site'.2 But the survivors refused to wait for the official site of commemoration that eventually took another ten years to com- plete. On the first anniversary of the bombing, citizens and officials mourned for their dead at the local Gokoku Shrine in what they called the Peace Recovery Festival (Heiiva Fukko Sai).3 The anniversary received wide international attention and thereby fostered awareness of the global relevance of the atomic bomb experience. As a result, the mayor expressed the need to strengthen the international aspects through an overall Peace Festival (Heiwa Sai) and to rebuild the city as the world’s peace city. The city administration agreed that this was a task which had to be carried out in the ’name of the nation', and therefore turned to the Tokyo government for legal support. In May 1949, after lengthy negotiations with the central government and the Occupation’s General Headquarters, the National Diet agreed to a law which was to express the commonly shared plan of all the citizens of Hiroshima to rebuild their city ‘as a peace memory city’ (cf. article 1).4 Long before the general post~war city construction law in 1968 the sur— viving citizens of Hiroshima felt a need for a collective urban self- definition. Apart from the financial aspects, there were mostly symbolic reasons for the wish to endow the city’s mission and self—definition with a national, and therefore superior, aura by means of a law. in article 3, for instance, the central government provided itself with the possibility to subsidize the town — planning measures in Hiroshima at its discre- tion. Furthermore, the Prime Minister committed himself to annual reports to the parliament on the implementation of the law. The imper- ative nature of this strong symbolic act was contrasted by legal loop- holes that empowered the government to allocate varying amounts of financial support, or to stop it completely, since it was the state and not the city that decided on the necessity of support (cf. article 3 and 4). From a legal perspective, the law provided only an inadequate tool for the city and its citizens to achieve their objectives. This, in turn, empha- sized the primary goal of the law to provide an identity. Despite the national framing of the city's reconstruction, the main responsibility and the actual realization remained on a local level, since all measures for implementing works were assigned to the mayor's incumbency (article 6). The law stressed a close cooperation between officials and citizens, but at the same time it left all final decisions in the hands of the city administration, especially the mayor. This distribution of power would influence the future museum deeply. In accordance with the new constitution a referendum was carried out and an overwhelming major- ity of the citizens agreed to the law.5 In June 1948 — when the city still lay in ashes a the city of Hiroshima had already decided on the construction of a Peace Memorial Park (Heiwa Kinen Karen) and invited architects to create its design.6 Since the municipal administration in its current state could not possibly bear the _, “flaw—J”. ...,.,._.,_..,~_._.._m_«m..flmw._ it The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its Exhibition 157 costs of such a project all alone, it turned to the central government in Tokyo for help? The realization of the building project was part of a nation-wide, five-year recovery plan and would — in the case of Hiroshima — also provide the ‘cultural facilities worthy of a peace city’. The costs for the Peace Memorial Park, about 700,000 Yen, made up approximately 2.6 per cent of the overall financial support.8 The city administration would, after receiving these funds, take over and pay for the maintenance. The City Construction Law was proclaimed on the fourth anniversary of the bombing, and at the same time Tange Kenzo (1913—2005) was designated to realize his plan for the new Memorial Park in the Nakajima district.9 Indeed, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was to be Tange's debut. The district was located not far from the centre of the explosion, south of the T—shaped bridge of Aioi that had served as a target mark for the pilots. The bomb had completely destroyed this dis- trict and had left an open area in the heart of the city, which was now to be used as the official commemorative site. Tange‘s design for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park organizes the respective elements in the form of an isosceles triangle. The base spans an east-west axis and consists in a three-part complex of buildings, with the Peace Memorial Museum in the centre. To the right and left of the museum are two iden- tical buildings that serve as exhibition, meeting and office rooms,10 namely the Kinenkan to the east and the Kokaido“ to the west. On the north-south axis of symmetry a path leads from the Museum to the top of the triangle where the central memorial stone (ireihi) is located. A vis- itor’s view along this axis reaches the pond of peace (heiwa no ike) and then focuses on the A—bomb dome (genbaku domu), which consequently forms an architectural and semantic unity with the Museum and the central memorial stone. According to lnoue Shoichi, Tange mainly reused his olddesign for the Commemorative Building Project for the Construction of Greater East Asia (Dalia-A kensetsu kinen eizo ker'kaku) from 19-412.12 The earlier project was planned as a Shintoist-national site at the foot of Mount Fuji to commemorate the establishment of the Greater East Asian (Io-Prosperity Sphere (Dalia-A kyoeiken). This architectural legacy gave the Peace Museum a bizarre double meaning. Of course, the buildings’ function of commemoration suggested a similar plan, but Even the new buildings’ particular design, e.g. imitat— ing haniwa and azekurazukuri, referred to an architectural style which called for a “return to Japan’ according to the traditionalist ideology of wartime Japan.” The plans for the building, which represented a newborn, post-war Hiroshima and its central value, peace, derived from the very plans meant to celebrate wartime imperialism and militarism. The design’s inherent contradiction was noticed by contemporaries: ‘I think that the way of thinking which is at the centre [of Tange's] design includes post-war democracy, but in other ways it resembles pretty much the world view of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.’14 158 Institutions of Memory: Memorials, Museums, National Heroes Although these explicit references were publicly known, they did not raise general doubt about the chosen design. During the following decades of remodelling — and even destruction and rebuilding — of the Museum, Tange’s design wasanever altered. And although never dis- cussed publicly, its ambiguous meaning became part of the museum’s message. "‘ The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum opened just in time for the tenth anniversary of the bombing but still consisted of only the central building, the Shin/5km,” which means archive or ‘resource collec- tion'.15 The visitors were mostly people from Hiroshima, survivors who had lost their families and friends through the atomic bomb. The museum did not present them with some unknown horror but with their own past.17 For years, people would go there to remember their dead, bringing whatever they might have found in the ruins to be pre- served as part of the collection. The museum’s collection went back to a semi-private initiative led by the geologist Nagaoka Shogo (1901-73). Nagaoka, who was then working for the city administration, and a group of citizens (known as the genbaku shin/o hozonkai since 1964) col— lected more than 6,700 objects between September 1945 and the open- ing of the Museum in 1955. The collection included bricks, molten glass, roof tiles, etc., mostly material artefacts from the ruins of Hiroshima. In 1949 these volunteers organized a temporary exhibition, which was later transferred to the museum. Like its predecessor, the Shiryfikan focused on the specimen, the remnant of the past. After the opening in 1955, the collection remained rather chaotic and unorgan- ized. Parts of the museum were used for industrial exhibitions and the only remaining hall struggled to contain a permanently growing collec- tion. This inspired the first maior remodelling of the Peace Memorial Museum. One detail of the revision and concomitant discussions shall exemplify the change as a whole. THE FIRST REMODELLING 1972—75 — ENFORCING THE REALISTIC In June 1972, Hiroshima City Council decided on a new way of present- ing clothes that had been worn by people exposed to the atomic bomb. Up to this point, only six simple wooden ‘display dummies’18 had been used. Four of these represented housewives, wearing a dress or working trousers, and young high school students, wearing labour service uni- forms. The remaining two figures were soldiers in military uniform. The dummies were arranged in three glass cases, each accompanied by an explanatory note. While the two cases with the female dummies were placed next to each other and were thus frequently shown in newspa— per articles, the soldiers were displayed at a different place of the exhi- bition and hence often ignored. These simple dummies were to be replaced by wax figures, a mother with her child and another woman fleeing the fires.19 For those parts of The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its Exhibition 159 gills-ire 9.1: The display dummies prior to the remodelling. Courtesy, Chfigoku m rm. the body, which had been directly exposed to the bomb’s radiation, the artisans used paint and special substances to imitate injuries and burns?" The hair was dishevelled and charred. The new arrangement showed the figures with their garments on in one glass case. A coloured photograph of the burning city became the background for the figures. Instead of the former static display the dummies were now shown in movement, stumbling away, dragging the child with them, stretching out their arms like somnambulists in the realm of nightmares. Hence, the 1972 arrangement went far beyond the information conveyed by the mere clothing. it showed the effects of the atomic bomb on the human body and the situation at the time of the explosion, i.e. its his- torical context. Much effort was put into the details of this dramatic change. Specialists for wax figures came from Kyoto and met with eyewit— nesses.21 The scene was even given a specific time and place. One of the artisans explained: ’We have avoided a dramatic expression. Wax works have been used for medical preparations for a long time; these dummies also are medical material.‘22 Reference to the apparently neutral and legitimate realm of science could not conceal the fact that the figures introduced a new approach into the exhibition. This turn provoked a hot controversy on the proper ways of remembering, which the Chfigoku Shinbun named the 'realism controversy' (riarukci rowel” The pros and cons brought up in this debate on representing the past cast an 160 Institutions ofMemory: Memorials, Museums, National Heroes I: \m it Figure 9.2: The new arrangement. Courtesy, Ciifigoku Shinbun. interesting light on contemporary war remembrance in general and remembering Hiroshima in particular. I Mayor Yamada SetSuo, who had initiated and advocated the project, put the supporters’ stand like this: ‘The current arrangement is not in accor— dance with the actual situation after the bombing. I want to bring it as close as possible to reality, to truth.’24 Yamada presented a new exhibition concept, which did not see the Shiryfikan primarily as a ‘resource collec- tion'. Traces of the past were disappearing from the city’s face and a gen- eration was growing up which did not know the war, so Ya mada intended to mend the growing gap between past and present by means of approx- mation. The ‘realistic’ (tiara) mode of representation meant a likeness to the original, the true event (makoto). By connecting these two terms, Yamada claimed the ‘truth’ for his preferred representational mode. Nagaoka Shogo, who had laid the foundations of the Museum's collecn tion and served as its first curator, opposed this idea: ‘The first goal [of the Museum] was to address the cruelty of the atomic bomb and to propagate i l The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its Exhibition 161 peace using the material actually exposed to the bomb.’25 In Nagaoka’s thinking, the historical remains of the bombing lay at the core of the Museum. They were a historical source of understanding as well as mean- ingful relics. These relics bore a fragment of the past and hence provided the only legitimate access to the ’truth of the atomic bombing’, a bridge between the viewer and the lost past. ‘It is a misunderstanding to say’, he continued, ‘that because the actual objects are unsatisfying one could strengthen them through models. People from all over the world do not come to see models but objects of the atomic bombing. ’25 In Nagaoka’s understanding, what was unique to Hiroshima was the actual experience of the bombing to which both people and objects testified. The authentic genbaku shiryo possessed an ’aura’ that allowed the spectator, i.e. the museum’s visitor, to bridge the gap between his present and the lost past; such an ’aura' could not be evoked by a reproduction. That put the sur- vivors and the relics in a unique position to convey a vanishing past. Hence it is not a surprise that the Council of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Victim Groups (Nikon Gerrsuibaku Higaisha Dantai Kyokai; in short: Hidankyo) opposed the new display techniques. Moritaki lchiro, then chairman of the Hidankyo, explained: ’The burned clothing is sufficient. No matter how hard we try to reconstruct, artificially, the situation of that day, we can never represent it!” instead of ‘realistic' he therefore called the representational mode suggested by the administration ’artificial’ (tsukurimono),23 in contrast to the survivors‘ own authentic experience. By emphasizing authenticity and experience, the opponents defined the source of legitimacy and the addressee of the Museum: 'Even though it may not be as strong [as the replicas], each and every artefact contains the truth of the atomic bombing in its silence and contains the longing for peace of those surviving families who donated it.’29 Such an exhibition would place the victim in its centre, as both its creator and its addressee. By opposing a reconstruction—based exhibition the sur- vivors put their own experience and identity as victims at the forefront. For them, only remnants of the past were left, and those remnants, peo- ple and things alike, bore a blank, the 'silence’, which referred to the lost. Yet the blank did not mean deficiency but was the mark of their authenticity and therefore possessed the power to convey their message. In accordance with this, the objects were usually referred to as ihin, meaning not simply a leftover of the past, but a legacy and therefore an obligation. The ihin, the only remains of those who vanished in the bombing, made a claim. By representing those who were no longer pres- ent, the ihin demanded that the dead should not be forgotten. This demand was the mnemonic heritage to the future. Lessening the impor- tance of the object within the Museum would be tantamount to negli- gence towards that heritage. Supporters of the wax dummies saw those fragments and their silence as obstacies to their goals: ‘[The display dummies] do not have the power to express the magnitude of the atomic bomb. In order to keep claiming 162 Institutions of Memory: Memorials, Museums, National Heroes the prayers of Hiroshima [we need] the wax figures, which can recon— struct the situation at the time of the bombing even more realistically.’30 'Reconstruction’ (saigen) replaced the ’remnants’ (thin). This d...
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