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Testimonial footage of WWII Tokyo air raid survivors, other material to be digitized

Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters (Mainichi/Makoto Ogawa)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced on May 24 that it will digitize video testimonials by survivors of massive U.S. air raids on Tokyo in 1945 plus related items to boost use of the materials.

    The videos were shot 20 years ago, with 330 survivors recounting their experiences of the Tokyo firebombing by the U.S. Army Air Force in the last months of World War II. The metro government will ask those appearing in the testimonials their views on the digitization project.

    The plan was revealed during a May 24 meeting of a review committee on peace events. "It's necessary to promote the active use of materials to prevent the memories of the war from being forgotten, at a time when Tokyo residents are increasingly aware of peace issues," said an official overseeing the initiative.

    In the 1990s, the metro government collected more than 5,000 materials related to the Tokyo air raids, including through people donating personal effects, and filmed the testimonies of 330 survivors on their air-raid experiences, all with an eye to building a peace memorial hall.

    However, there was some skepticism in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly over historical views related to the plan. The memorial hall has yet to be built. Most of the collected materials have never been made public, and survivors of the war and others have been calling for them to be used.

    "The materials need to be digitized to keep them from deteriorating," commented Hisao Ishiyama, 86, a mediator for a group working for the peace memorial hall to be built. "The scope of the materials' use will be broadened, and that's a valuable step."

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)

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