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Rare records of A-bomb survey at Hiroshima junior high school in 1947 donated to museum

The "survey results of damage caused by the atomic bomb," left, and "survey sheet of atomic bomb damage for second grade students and staff" donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum are seen at Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Kokutaiji High School in Hiroshima's Naka Ward on May 20, 2022. (Mainichi/Kazuki Iwamoto)

HIROSHIMA -- Materials documenting the exposure to the atomic bomb and the subsequent health of a total of 33 students and staff members at a junior high school near the hypocenter in Hiroshima in 1947 were recently donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

    It is rare to find a school-based compilation of A-bomb-related materials. The museum commented, "This is valuable in showing the reality of the atomic bombing, as the symptoms of A-bomb sickness were investigated in detail under difficult circumstances two years after the bombing."

    The materials donated on July 20 are from Hiroshima Daiichi Junior High School (now Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Kokutaiji High School) under the old education system. These include "survey results of damage caused by the atomic bomb," which summarizes the damage to the school as a whole; three bound volumes of survey sheets that examine damage to staff and students from the second to fourth year; and hand-drawn maps that show the students' exposure to the bomb and other locations.

    These rare items were found in a cabinet at the alumni association office when Hiroshima Kokutaiji High School planned an exhibition in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. They were deteriorating and the decision was made to donate them. There are no materials remaining that show how the survey was conducted.

    Hiroshima Daiichi Junior High School was located approximately 850 meters from the hypocenter, and many students were working at munitions factories in and around the city when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. According to the documents, a total of 1,334 students and staff were registered at the time, and more than half, or 727 were exposed to the A-bomb.

    On the survey sheets that documented the students' exposure to radiation, in addition to the location of exposure and their injuries, the presence or absence of radiation damage, such as hair loss and decreased white blood cell counts, as well as symptoms reported by the individuals afterward, were recorded in detail.

    The museum is set to analyze the materials. A curator said, "There may be differences in the symptoms of A-bomb disease depending on the location of the exposure."

    Hidenori Obayashi, principal of Hiroshima Kokutaiji High School, said, "It is wonderful that the survey was conducted from the viewpoint of children's health in the chaotic educational situation at that time. This is the result of the efforts of the teachers then."

    Takuo Takigawa, director of the museum, said, "We would like to make use of the materials such as exhibiting them for visitors."

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Iwamoto, Hiroshima Bureau)

    In Photos: Valuable records of survey at Hiroshima school 2 yrs after A-bombing

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