National

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum breaks annual attendance record thanks to Obama visit

Kyodo

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum drew nearly 1.6 million visitors in fiscal 2016 as surging attendance set a record following U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit in May 2016.

On Friday, attendance eclipsed the previous record of 1,593,280 set in fiscal 1999 and is likely to reach 1.73 million by the end of the fiscal year on March 31, the museum said.

After Obama became the first sitting U.S. leader to visit the A-bombed city, attendance at the peace museum spiked 40 percent on year in June and July.

The museum had originally planned to stop displaying Obama’s paper cranes but decided to retain the popular exhibit after finding that it had become one of the main attractions.

Yuri Takahashi, a 29-year-old nurse from Nakano Ward, Tokyo, was the 1,593,281st person to visit the museum.

“I understood the horrors of atomic bombs after seeing the Atomic Bomb Dome. This is a place that marks Japan’s history,” she said.

The museum’s director, Kenji Shiga, attributed the rise in visitors to the cranes dedicated by Obama and the popularity of “Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni”(“In This Corner of the World”), an anime set in Hiroshima before and during World War II.

The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and another on Nagasaki three days later. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, bringing the war to an end.