HIROSHIMA – The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on Thursday put on display four paper cranes offered by U.S. President Barack Obama during his historic visit to the atomic-bombed city in May.
According to the museum, each of the Obama-handmade cranes is about 7 cm high and about 10 cm wide, and made of pink and blue paper with Japanese-style floral prints.
Obama visited the museum before attending an official service in the Peace Memorial Park on May 27. He gave one crane each to two local schoolchildren who welcomed him at the museum.
He also left another two when he signed the museum’s guest book with a message: “We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”
Visitors have been taking photos of the paper cranes and message, which are on public display inside a glass case until Aug. 31.
Kano Takahashi, 13, a second-year junior high school student who came to the museum as part of a peace education program, said, “I can feel (President Obama’s) strong belief in eliminating nuclear weapons,” adding, “I hope Mr. Obama can make it come true.”
A 52-year-old high school teacher from the United States who came to see the paper cranes said that although the lack of an apology from Obama for the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan drew some criticism, it was important to think about the future for the sake of establishing a world without nuclear arms.
The museum was flooded with inquiries about whether the paper cranes would be shown following Obama’s visit, a museum official said.
Paper cranes are viewed as a symbol of peace in Hiroshima in memory of Sadako Sasaki, an iconic victim of the bombing who folded 1,000 of them while she was in hospital suffering from leukemia linked to radiation exposure. She died aged 12 in 1955.
Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima when he came to Japan to attend the annual summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Mie Prefecture on May 26 and 27.
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and a second on Nagasaki three days later. Around 210,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the attacks by the end of 1945. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15 of the same year, bringing an end to World War II.