WORLD NEWS Japan to seek listing of Hiroshima A-bomb photos, videos...

Japan to seek listing of Hiroshima A-bomb photos, videos as UNESCO documentary heritage – The Mainichi

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The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, known today as the Atomic Bomb Dome, is seen from Aioi Bridge in Hiroshima around Sept. 11, 1945. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Niimi)


TOKYO — Japan’s education ministry has picked a collection of photos and videos capturing the devastating aftermath of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima to recommend for the UNESCO documentary heritage listings, the ministry announced on Nov. 28.


UNESCO is expected to decide whether to add the collection — comprising 1,532 photographs and two videos — to its Memory of the World Register in 2025, the 80th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear attack on Hiroshima.


The Mainichi Newspapers Co. and two other Japanese dailies — The Asahi Shimbun Co. and The Chugoku Shimbun Co. — along with the regional RCC Broadcasting Co., public broadcaster NHK and the city of Hiroshima had jointly submitted a proposal for the collection to be registered as UNESCO documentary heritage. The education ministry’s decision to endorse the visual collection for the listings was made during a liaison meeting of ministries and agencies concerned on Nov. 28.


The photos were taken by one organization and 27 people, including newspaper and news agency reporters, Hiroshima residents, as well as photographers accompanying survey teams, between Aug. 6, 1945 — the day of the bombing — and the end of December that year. Some of the photos capture the huge mushroom cloud that formed immediately after the explosion, and people who were severely burned in the atomic blast.


The two video clips, which were added to the collection later, were filmed by Nippon Eigasha, an incorporated association that produced news films during the war. One of the videos shows chamberlain Torahiko Nagazumi inspecting Hiroshima on Sept. 3, 1945, after being dispatched by Emperor Hirohito (posthumously Emperor Showa). The clip is now archived by NHK.


The Mainichi Newspapers contributed a total of 88 photos to the collection, shot by three photographers from the Osaka Head Office’s photo department and the chief of the Yamaguchi Bureau in Yamaguchi Prefecture, west of Hiroshima, by early September 1945.






The devastation near the hypocenter is seen on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing, in Hiroshima’s Harimayacho (now part of the Hondori area of the city’s Naka Ward). (Mainichi/Yukio Kunihira)


One of the Mainichi photographers, Yukio Kunihira, entered Hiroshima from Osaka on Aug. 9 that year and captured the heart of the burned out city. Another Mainichi photographer, Tatsuro Niimi, took the images of the wrecked Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, known today as the Atomic Bomb Dome, in September 1945.


UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Register program in 1992 to promote the preservation and active use of documents of global significance. Screenings of items to be registered are held once every two years, with up to two submissions accepted from each country.


As of June 2023, 494 items had been registered, including the diaries of Anne Frank, submitted by the Netherlands. There are eight Japan-related items on the heritage list, including “Midokanpakuki,” the original handwritten diary of 11th century statesman Fujiwara no Michinaga.


(Japanese original by Yongho Lee, Tokyo City News Department)

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