National / Politics

U.S. officials say planned A-bomb park will heed Japanese voices


U.S. officials drafting plans for a memorial park honoring its atomic bomb program in the 1940s say they will take Japanese sensitivities into account.

Officials from the Energy Department and the National Park Service told an event in Washington on Wednesday that they will try to strike a balance between promoting scientific advancement and the tragic impact of the Manhattan Project when choosing exhibits for the park, which will be spread across three sites.

While many in the United States see the 1945 attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a positive light, believing that they quickened the end of World War II, those cities have expressed concern that the planned Manhattan Project National Historic Park could whitewash the fact that the bombings killed more than 140,000 people, most of whom were civilians.

Jaime Shimek, deputy assistant secretary of the Energy Department, told the event marking the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project that the U.S. government recognizes that “there are many aspects and this is a complicated story.”

Not only is it about the rapid advances in science that changed the world but it is also “a story about the world’s first use of nuclear weapons, and the tragic stories of death and the destruction that was caused by those weapons as well,” Shimek said.

Patrick Gregerson, chief of planning for the park service, suggested that the organization will be mindful of various opinions from outside the United States before releasing an outline of the park design, possibly this summer.

“We do not look at where they are from to decide whether we look at their comments or not. And so we accept all comments,” Gregerson said.

The three-site park will consist of facilities and land in Oak Ridge in Tennessee, Los Alamos in New Mexico and Hanford in Washington State, according to the park service.

The Los Alamos complex was the center of scientific efforts to develop an atomic bomb during the war. Enriched uranium that was used for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was produced in Oak Ridge. And plutonium that was used for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was produced in Hanford.