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Hiroshima Univ. opens access to trove of docs on early A-bomb survivors' movements

A collection of documents created around the time Hiroshima Hidankyo was formed is seen at Hiroshima University in the city of Higashihiroshima in western Japan. Since resources were scarce after the war, many of the documents were produced on poor-quality recycled paper. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
A collection of documents relating to A-bomb survivors that were created around the time Hiroshima Hidankyo was formed is seen at Hiroshima University in the city of Higashihiroshima in western Japan. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

Hiroshima University has opened public access to a trove of documents created around the time the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo) was formed in 1956, leading to the formation of a national organization supporting hibakusha, or survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    There are about 500 documents in total. The university released an index of the items on its website on Oct. 14, and the Hiroshima University Archives located in the city of Higashihiroshima in western Japan opened public access to them.

    As a measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Hiroshima University Archives is initially limiting access to the documents to people residing in Hiroshima Prefecture, and reservations are required in advance to view them. However, the institution will receive consultations from people outside the prefecture and consider a response.

    The documents were created over the six years from 1955 to 1961, and were previously stored at the secretariat of Hiroshima Hidankyo. They include contact documents and records of board meetings, as well as early documents from the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), which was formed about 2 1/2 months after Hiroshima Hidankyo was established.

    For a long time, the whereabouts of the documents was unknown, but about two years ago a confederation-affiliated person donated them to the university, and the institution had been arranging and assessing them.

    The records document the process of the development of movements by Japan's hibakusha, and Masaharu Ishida, an associate professor at the university, commented, "They are valuable materials that are indispensable in researching Japan's postwar history, not just that of Hiroshima."

    Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by A-bomb survivor Sunao Tsunoi, stated, "They convey the anguish of hibakusha and their rise in seeking compensation from the government. We want as many people as possible to see them."

    Telephone inquiries about the documents can be made (in Japanese) to Hiroshima University Archives, on 082-424-6050.

    (Japanese original by Koichi Kirino, Osaka City News Department)

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