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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

November 30, 2016

Rare look inside reveals how A-Bomb Dome is still standing




A tour in the interior of the A-Bomb Dome building reveals countless bricks and piles of debris as well as a large number of pillars supporing the structure for preservation. (Koichi Ueda)

HIROSHIMA--Countless bricks and piles of debris are seen inside the A-Bomb Dome here as the 20th anniversary of its UNESCO World Heritage listing approaches.

They are the remnants of objects that fell from the second and third stories of the building when the world’s first atomic bomb detonation occurred almost directly overhead on Aug. 6, 1945.

Circular cast-iron staircases remain in the southern section of the building, but parts of them are warped, a testament to the intense heat that the bomb emitted.

The Asahi Shimbun recently took photographs of the A-bomb Dome’s interior with the permission of the municipal government for the anniversary.

It was registered on Dec. 7, 1996, as a symbol aimed at passing down the horror of the atomic bomb to posterity in the world, and access to the structure's interior is restricted. The landmark is also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on the UNESCO list.

The dome along the Motoyasugawa river was completed 101 years ago as part of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

But its roof was ripped off by the blast wave of the bomb traveling 440 meters per second. And the blaze, caused by the bomb’s heat wave, destroyed the spacious building, including the people who were inside.

All that survived the explosion was the steel skeleton of the oval-shaped dome, which stands about 25 meters tall, and its supporting walls.

Below the dome, rows of dark red bricks are exposed from the interior wall coating flaking off.

Despite the crumbling walls and deformed steel frames, a tour inside the dome showed the city’s efforts over the years to keep the structure true to its original state.

For example, a large number of poles are placed in all directions to strengthen what remains of the building.

Traces of plastic are stuck in gaps between bricks from past work to prevent them from falling off. Grass and moss are also dotted around.

After a tour inside, a look at the dome from a distance allowed reporters to realize that the reinforcement work was meticulously done in a way to keep the poles out of sight.

Efforts to preserve it are also visible from the remains of plastic that fills numerous cracks on the outer wall.

The path to the historical landmark’s preservation was not a smooth one.

The city was sharply divided when calls emerged for keeping it as a “symbol of the atomic bombing.”

Opponents argued for dismantling the structure, saying it was an “excruciating reminder” of the catastrophe that people in Hiroshima suffered that day and endured through the ensuing years.

After charged debate, the city assembly decided to keep it permanently in 1966.

Preservation efforts got under way in the following year and have been carried out on several occasions since then. Last year, seismic strengthening work was conducted.

City officials are hoping that the monument will remain in its current state until 2045, at the least.

Hiroshi Harada, former director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, who joined the tour, stressed the importance of preserving both the building and the experiences people in the city had to suffer through.

“We should also make a strong effort to pass down the accounts of people who were killed in the nuclear blast as well as memories and souls from that time,” said Harada, 77, who survived the bombing.

(This story was written by Yosuke Takashima and Gen Okamoto.)


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