New A-bomb monument at former site of Hiroshima junior high school experiences delay

by Rie Nii, Staff Writer

The creation of an A-bomb monument incorporating the exterior of the old east building and the front gateposts of Danbara Junior High School is experiencing a significant delay. The A-bombed school building was used until March 2011, and initially, the City of Hiroshima planned to build a monument in fiscal 2012. Bids for the project were sought four times, through July 2013, but failed to secure a contractor. A shortage of construction workers has brought delays in public works projects, and this is hampering efforts to convey Hiroshima’s message.

The old east building and the gateposts were built in 1932, when the First Higher Elementary School (renamed Danbara National School in 1941) opened in Minami Ward. Located roughly 2.6 kilometers from the hypocenter, the one-story ferroconcrete building withstood the blast, although the window frames and panes were shattered, and was used as a temporary relief station in the aftermath of the A-bomb attack.

After the war, a second floor was added to the building. Classrooms for technology and industrial arts were located on the first floor, and the rooms on the second floor were used for school clubs until Danbara Junior High School was relocated in April 2011, about 600 meters south of the old site.

After the school was moved, the old east building was demolished, though part of the wall was retained. This section of the wall is 1.4 meters tall and 8 meters wide, lower than the window sill on the first floor. The plan to build the monument involves placing this wall between the two 1.8-meter tall gateposts, in the park established at the former site of the school.

Since December 2012, the city has repeatedly called for bids to build the monument, combining this project with other public works, but has failed to land a contractor as a result of a lack of bids or bids that are too high.

Seeking to complete the monument by March 2014, the city will pursue a fifth round of bids on January 9. The Facilities Division of the Hiroshima Municipal Board of Education, which is overseeing this matter, commented that they hope a contractor can be secured soon so that the monument can be built and help transmit a message of peace to children.

(Originally published on December 30, 2013)