We need an alternative peace museum in Hiroshima:
Questioning Hiroshima-centred War Memory in Japan
The 10th International Conference of Museums for Peace
Title: We need an alternative peace museum in Hiroshima: Questioning Hiroshima-centred War Memory in Japan
Author: Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Director, Peace Philosophy Centre
Abstract: Marking the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII this year, the author problematizes the general lack of recognition in the Japanese war memory for the history of the Empire of Japan’s seven decades of colonial rule and aggressive wars. This tendency is prevalent even in the “peace,” “anti-war,” and “anti-nuclear” communities, accentuated by what the author calls the “Hiroshima Historical View,” which centres itself around the Japanese suffering in the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This view of history omits what led up to the atomic bombing and depicts the event as a sudden tragedy that befell the otherwise “peaceful” lives of Japan's innocent people. The newly renovated Hiroshima Peace Museum is no exception. It neither touches upon Japan’s invasions of neighbouring countries and Hiroshima's role in them, nor does it point to the United States’ responsibility for the evil that it committed. The author will discuss how such sanitization of historical responsibilities contributes to today’s acceptance of the U.S.-Japan military alliance that enables further buildup in the region, including Iwakuni and Kure, constituting a permanent “war capital” identity of Hiroshima. The author will conclude by presenting a vision for an alternative museum in Hiroshima.