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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 February 29 - March 6  > Tokyo air raid center marks 10th anniversary
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2012 February 29 - March 6 [HISTORY]

Tokyo air raid center marks 10th anniversary

February 28, 2012
The Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages which strives to pass on information related to the war and the devastating air raid attacks to younger generations, will mark the 10th anniversary on March 9.

Between November 1944 and August 1945, the City of Tokyo was targeted by more than 100 U.S. air raids, and over 50% of its urban area was burnt to the ground. In the Great Tokyo Air Raid that took place at dawn on March 10, 1945, over 100,000 men, women, and children were killed.

The Center aims to show people, children and youth in particular, how precious it is to protect lives by preventing war. It stores 5,250 relics and drawings. Ten people who experienced the air raids share their memories with visitors along with video-recorded testimonies of other survivors.

When the Center was opened, the number of schools sending students on fieldtrips to the center totaled in a year was 50. In 2010, the number had climed to 200.

In its 10th anniversary year, the Center is giving a special exhibit until April 8 of newly found photos of the U.S. bombing attacks, taken by a wartime publishing company under the direct supervision of the Japanese Imperial Army. A citizen who has preserved about 17,000 film negatives donated them to the Center in 2011.

Yamabe Masahiko, the Center’s chief researcher of war damages said, “In the past, 500 photos taken by ex-Metropolitan Police Department member Ishikawa Koyo were apparently the only available photos of the raids. Examining some 600 of the donated photos of the air raids has shown that many pictures depict the after effects and the rebuilding and rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, religious facilities, and downtown areas, and people’s everyday livelihoods amidst the ruins, along with photos of factories, railways, and military facilities. The photos clearly show that the bombing was indiscriminate.”

The Center’s director Saotome Katsumoto said: Last August we had the 100,000th visitor, although the year’s visitors declined to half the usual due to cancellations of school trips of many elementary, junior-high, and high schools following the Great East Japan Disaster. The Center has now become a base of activities for young researchers, and has played a part in storing relics, drawings and photos of the air raids. A book and a DVD about the Tokyo raid were published, the latter depicting the war damages of Tokyo, Guernica, and Chongchin.

Saotome, 79, said the problem with maintaining the Center is that many of those involved are in their late 70s. He expressed his wish to strengthen the movement for peace further with increased popular support for the Center.

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