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2019 December 25 - 2020 January 14 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

column  Tokyo metropolitan gov’t should build own peace museum to not forget memories of war

January 7, 2020

'Morning breeze' column

A civil group calling for the construction of a Tokyo metropolitan peace memorial museum held its 19th anniversary meeting in December 2019.

During World War II, Tokyo suffered more than 100 U.S. air raids, including the devastating Great Tokyo Air Raid on March 10, 1945 which killed at least 100,000 people. Victims and bereaved families of the U.S. airstrikes are still haunted by the horrible memories of the fire bombings. They declare that Japan must not wage a war again.

The civil group maintains that in order to pass down memories of war to future generations and send out a message of peace to the world, Tokyo needs to have its own peace museum just like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawa.

After the war, local movements were launched in many locations in Tokyo to record facts and people’s stories concerning the U.S. bombings of the capital city, which came into full swing with the formation of a Tokyo-wide organization to work for this aim in 1970. Pushed by continuing efforts, such as the publication of a book about air raids and war damage in Tokyo and a petition by twelve celebrities for the construction of a war memorial museum, the metropolitan government designated March 10 as the Tokyo Peace Day in 1990. The Tokyo government in 1992 set up a panel to discuss the proposed plan for a peace museum and a metropolitan committee dealing with this issue in 1998 compiled a report.

However, progress came to a halt there. Some Tokyo metropolitan assembly members strongly opposed the construction of a peace museum and supported the campaign to introduce a history textbook beautifying and glorifying Japan’s war of aggression in public schools. Since then, the idea of a peace museum has been shelved as necessary budgets have not been approved in the assembly.

The civil group in the anniversary meeting adopted an appeal calling for the creation of a Tokyo metropolitan government that is willing to build a peace museum through the gubernatorial election this year and the metropolitan assembly election next year as well as through a signature-collection campaign.

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