Lack of Details over G7 Leaders’ Visit to Peace Museum Causes Dismay

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A convoy carrying U.S. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill pulls up at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Friday.

HIROSHIMA — The visit on Friday by the Group of Seven leaders to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum drew praise for exposing them to the reality of an atomic bombing, but the lack of details released to the public regarding the experience has left some observers disheartened.

When then U.S. President Barack Obama visited the museum during a trip to Japan in 2016, he stayed for about 10 minutes. On Friday, the G7 leaders as a group spent about 40 minutes.

The G7 leaders were said to have seen and heard the story behind the well-known paper cranes crafted by Sadako Sasaki that are on display in the museum. Sasaki developed leukemia after the bombing and made the paper cranes in hopes of recovering from her illness, but eventually died.

“If they see materials and artifacts that with one look show the horrific consequences of an atomic bombing, the inhumanity of nuclear weapons should reach their hearts,” said Minoru Hataguchi, 77, who served as director of the museum for nine years from 1997.

Hiroshi Harada, 83, who was the museum’s director for four years from 1993, took issue with the brevity of the visit. “If one wants to see all the exhibits, it would take an hour. I don’t know how far the message was conveyed to them.”

According to a Japanese government official, it was decided not to publicize details of the visit out of consideration for the complex circumstances and public opinion in the United States, which dropped the bombs, and other nations that possess nuclear weapons.

Also withheld was what was said during a conversation between the leaders and Keiko Ogura, 85, who talked about her A-bomb experience in a meeting in the museum.

Current director Takuo Takigawa, 64, held a press conference after the visit, but refused to comment when asked for details on how the leaders reacted or what they said. He would not even say if he had accompanied them.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 81, a co-chairperson of the Nihon Hidankyo, or Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, expressed his disappointment, saying, “I wanted to know what exhibits the leaders looked at and how they felt.”