August 6 amid pandemic—Peace message to be delivered at Peace Memorial Ceremony with fewer people

Restricted area near venue to be expanded three times over usual space

by Hajime Niiyama, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima City government has revealed its general outline for this year’s Peace Memorial Ceremony, with a focus on sending out a message of peace while implementing thorough measures, also adopted at last year’s ceremony, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. At the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the ceremony venue located in the city’s Naka Ward, the restricted entry area will be expanded beyond the scope used before the pandemic. Moreover, a one-way route leading to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims will be established in the park to allow visitors to offer their prayers for the victims of the atomic bombing.

The zone into which entry is prohibited from 5:00 to 9:00 a.m. on August 6 comprises a large portion of the delta area between the Motoyasu River and the Honkawa River, east to west, and the park area from the north side of Peace Boulevard up to the roadway within the park connecting the Motoyasu Bridge and the Honkawa Bridge, south to north. The expanded area is about three times as large as the size of the typical restricted zone. Expansion of the restricted area will help prevent people from gathering to see the ceremony in person, which will contribute to the avoidance of overcrowding.

Responding to some among the public who expressed a desire to pray for the A-bomb victims in the early morning hours before the ceremony begins, a route for such prayers will be set aside from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m. As was the case last year, the route will form an L-shaped, one-way path that passes in front of the cenotaph, with the aim of preventing visitors from coming into close contact. This year, the city will cancel public viewing of the ceremony at the International Conference Center Hiroshima, located inside the park, and will similarly not install 14 monitors within the park area.

The city government will call on the public to refrain from visiting the venue. It has also requested accommodation facilities in Hiroshima, such as hotels and inns, as well as travel agencies to inform guests when receiving requests for reservations around the date of August 6 that they will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. In the future, a poster to notify the public about the restrictions to be utilized for the ceremony will be displayed at numerous locations, including tourist information centers.

While the number of the ceremony attendees will be reduced, the city government also determined that nearly the same program as usual would be carried out at the ceremony. To explain that decision, a city official said, “It is designed to maintain to the extent possible the ceremony’s original goal of sending out a message of peace.” A video message from Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, who was forced to abandon his original plan of visiting Hiroshima in person, will be broadcast at the event over four monitors set up for attendees. The ceremony will be live streamed on the Hiroshima City website.

(Originally published on July 12, 2021)