L.A. museum opens exhibition on Japanese American A-bomb victims

LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) — An exhibition featuring the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened Nov. 9 in Los Angeles, telling the stories of Japanese Americans who were in those cities when the bombs dropped in August 1945.

DESTRUCTION — The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall reduced to rubble, November, 1945. photo by U.S. Army, courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Marking the 75th anniversary of the tragedies, the Japanese American National Museum will run the event through June 7, 2020, in partnership with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In an opening event, Junji Sarashina, 90, a second-generation Japanese American who was in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, said he hopes all future generations will learn about the horrors of atomic bombs through the exhibition.

Howard Kakita, 81, a third-generation Japanese American who was also in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped, said he can never forget what he saw under the mushroom cloud.

It marks the first time that the Los Angeles museum has run an atomic bomb-themed exhibition since its inception in 1992.

The museum chronicles Japanese American history, including their incarceration in concentration camps in the United States during the Pacific War.

Titled “Under a Mushroom Cloud: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Atomic Bomb,” the exhibition includes artifacts belonging to atomic bomb victims and photograph panels on loan from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

THE ART OF TRAGEDY — This drawing by a survivor, Kichisuke Yoshimura (above), depicts the victims of the atomic bomb with their skin hanging in strips, moving wordlessly toward the outskirts of Hiroshima. Drawn by Kichisuke Yoshimura, courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

It displays a paper crane folded by former U.S. President Barack Obama and presented to Hiroshima when he visited the city in 2016 as the first sitting president to do so.

The exhibition also shows photos depicting the suffering of Japanese American victims of the 1945 bombings.

“Our biggest issue is how to convey the extent of the damage to the next generation, as atomic bomb survivors are getting old and passing away,” said Takuo Takigawa, director of the Hiroshima museum.

According to the Los Angeles museum, some Japanese Americans who were in Japan to learn the culture and for other reasons, became victims of the bombings because they were unable to return to the United States during World War II.

There were an estimated 3,200 Japanese Americans in Hiroshima at the time, the museum said.

“Under a Mushroom Cloud: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Atomic Bomb,” organized in partnership with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, runs through June 7, 2020 at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Through March 1, 2020, the exhibition will include a special display of artifacts belonging to atomic bomb victims. For more information, visit: www.janm.org.

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