HIROSHIMA – Workers began repairing on Monday a monument to A-bomb victims vandalized last week at Peace Memorial Park in hopes it will be presentable for this weekend’s memorial ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing.
Full restoration of the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims is expected to take at least a month, but makeshift repairs are scheduled to be completed by Wednesday.
The vandal was recorded on a security camera Tuesday night using a hammer and chisel to damage the monument’s epitaph, which is translated as: “Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the mistake” of waging war.
The vandal, who turned himself in Wednesday, damaged the word “ayamachi” (mistake).
Repairs on the engraving began at around 4:30 a.m. to avoid disturbing visitors during the day. Coloring work will begin Tuesday.
“I am relieved for the moment, because it looks like the temporary restoration will be done before Aug. 6,” said Haruko Hirata, an 85-year-old hibakusha who came to visit the monument just past 6 a.m.
The vandal, Takeo Shimazu, 27, was arrested Wednesday after he turned himself in and admitted to the vandalism allegations, according to the police. He said he belongs to a rightwing group.
The Hiroshima resident told police he defaced the monument because he didn’t like a phrase in the inscription.
“It wasn’t ordinary Japanese citizens who made the mistake. It was the United States that dropped the atomic bomb,” Shimazu was quoted as saying.
It’s not the first time the epitaph has caused disputes. At issue is whether it is supposed to be the Japanese people or all human beings who “shall not repeat the mistake.” In Japanese, the subject of the sentence is unclear.
The city put up a sign in 1983 explaining that the epitaph was a promise by all people to never wage war again.
The cenotaph was vandalized in March 2002 when red paint was poured over it.
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