Article Synopsis: “Reiterated Commemoration: Hiroshima as National Trauma.”

Saito, Hiro.  “Reiterated Commemoration: Hiroshima as National Trauma.”  Sociological Theory 24:4 (2006): 353-376

Article details the process of the construction of the bombings in Hiroshima as a national memory in the period from 1945 until 1957, the year of the passage of the A-Bomb Medical Care Act, and breaks down this time period into three more discreet time periods, from 1945-1951, 1951-1954, and 1954-1957.  In the first period, the author argues that there was little national memory of Hiroshima due in large part to censorship by SCAP authorities and because of the difficulties faced by survivors.  In this period, Hiroshima commemorations were projected as transnational in nature.  In the second period, following the end of occupation, the image of the A-bomb maidens captured public attention evoking feelings of pity among the populace.  By the third period, the exposure of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 fishing boat to nuclear fallout near the Bikini Atoll helped to spur the development of a national anti-nuclear weapons movement and the elevation of Hiroshima commemorations to national ceremonies emphasizing sympathy for the hibakusha.  The author argues that this nationalization of Hiroshima as a narrative caused difficulties regarding the recognition of non-Japanese hibakusha and initiated the use of Hiroshima as a means to deflect discussion of Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia.

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