• Kyodo


A record 1.76 million people visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2019 ended March after a renovation put extra photos and more of the A-bomb victims' belongings on display.

Foreign visitors hit an all-time high for the seventh year straight, growing by about 88,000 from the previous year to 520,000, the museum said last week.

The main building reopened last April after undergoing a two-year renovation for both exhibition renewal and quake-resistance reinforcement.

The revamped building focuses on using personal items to depict the lives of those who were killed by the atomic bombing of the city in 1945. A section featuring American prisoners of war and other non-Japanese who were in the city at the time was also added.

The previous record high of 1.74 million visitors was set in fiscal 2016. Former U.S. President Barack Obama visited the museum in May that year, becoming the first sitting American leader to tour Hiroshima.

Some origami cranes, a Japanese symbol of peace, were also made by Obama and are displayed in the museum's east building.

Between May last year and January, monthly attendance at the museum rose over 20 percent compared with the same period the previous year but slowed in February with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. The facility has been closed since Feb. 29.

"We're praying for the coronavirus epidemic to wind down," said museum director Takuo Takigawa.

With 2020 marking 75 years since the atomic bombing, Vice Director Katsunobu Hamaoka said, "We'll be putting our efforts into enriching the exhibition contents."

The U.S. atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, killed an estimated 140,000 people by the end of that year. Hiroshima had a population of 350,000 before the attack.

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