A-bomb Dome
Registered as World Heritage

PHOTO:The A-Bomb Dome,
on the morning of the designation as the World Heritage

Hiroshima's Pledge Becomes Humanity's Pledge

On December 5,1996, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Merida, Mexic decided to register the A-bomb Dome on the World Heritage List. A symbol of Hiroshima's pledge to abolish nuclear weapons and seek lasting peace, the A-bomb Dome entered the 21st century as a legacy common to the entire human race.

Wide-spread support for A-bomb Dome as world heritage

The drive to register the A-bomb Dome as a World Heritage gained significant momentum in 1992 when Japan signed the World Heritage Convention. Responding to public pressure, the Hiroshima City Council adopted in September 1992 a resolution to pursue registry of the Dome on the World Heritage List, which turned the effort into a full-scale campaign. In January 1993, Hiroshima's mayor formally requested that the national government recommend to UNESCO that the A-bomb Dome be registered as a world heritage.

In June, the Committee to Promote the A-bomb Dome as a World Heritage was formed, receiving broad-based support from citizens' groups. This committee then launched a nationwide signature drive. A petition to the Diet accompanied by these signatures was adopted in 1994 by plenary sittings in both houses. The petition was signed by over 1.65 million people calling for the Dome to be recognized as a world heritage.

Before a country can nominate a site as a world heritage, the site must be protected as a historical asset under domestic law. (Buildings and other cultural assets in Japan must be protected under the Cultural Asset Preservation Law.) In 1994, the A-bomb Dome had not as yet been designated a cultural asset under that law. Furthermore, the national government's position was that the Dome was not old enough to qualify as a historical site. However, thanks to efforts by numerous supporters, the Agency for Cultural Affairs revised in March 1995 the basic criteria for historical site designation under the Cultural Asset Preservation Law, and in June designated the A-bomb Dome a national historic site. In September, the national government formally recommended to UNESCO that the A-bomb Dome be registered as a world heritage.

In advance of this nomination, Hiroshima City established a beautification zone around the A-bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park designed to create an environment more suitable for a world heritage.

After the nomination, the Dome was evaluated by the World Heritage Committee, and on December 5, 1996, the hopes of many people around the world were fulfilled when the A-bomb Dome was accepted for registry on the World Heritage List.

Presenting Our New World Heritage At Home and Abroad

The A-bomb Dome, standing as mute witness to the tragic history of humankind's first use of an atomic bomb, is a precious legacy of universal value. Its registry on the World Heritage List is international recognition of this value and an indication that the human community is developing a common awareness that nuclear weapons must never be used again. The profound significance of the Dome's registry as a world heritage is etched in the hearts of our people, and Hiroshima City intends to continue indefinitely its efforts to publicize the A-bomb Dome here at home and abroad as a symbol of our pledge to pursue lasting peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Story of the A-bomb Dome

The A-bomb Dome standing quietly on the bank of the Motoyasu River is the remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, which was nearly directly under the atomic bomb that exploded at 8:15 A.M., August 6, 1945. The name A-bomb Dome emerged spontaneously due to the shape left at the top of the destroyed building.

  • 1910 Hiroshima Prefecture decides to build a commercial exhibition hall to display and promote local products; it commissions the project to Czechoslovakian architect Jan Letzel (1880-1925).

  • 1914 Construction begins on the bank of the Motoyasu River in Sarugaku-cho (now Otemachi 1-chome). Construction was completed and the building opened the following year. It was a modern, three-story brick building partially supported by reinforcing steel. The foundation covered 1023 square meters; the building stood 25 meters high. The exterior was stone and mortar, and the round tower covered by the oval roof was five stories high. This enormous European-style building became one of the best-known sights in Hiroshima.

    Local products were displayed and sold in the building, which was also used as a public exhibition hall and art gallery. Later, the name was changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, then the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The building was a familiar part of daily life for Hiroshima residents for 30 years.

  • August 6, 1945 A single atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, and from that time the building is preserved as a symbol of the damage wrought by that bomb. As the city recovers from war damage, the A-bomb Dome becomes the focus of a controversy about whether to preserve or destroy it.

  • 1966 The City Council adopts a resolution to preserve the A-bomb Dome. An A-bomb Dome preservation fundraising campaign is launched; Hiroshima residents and people around Japan and the world donate a total of 66 million.

  • 1967 The funds are used to implement the A-bomb Dome preservation project.

  • 1989 Twenty years after the first reinforcement, cracks appear in walls and corrosion on the steel supports. It is decided that another preservation project is required. A second Dome preservation fundraising campaign is launched that gathers over 395 million. These funds are used for the second preservation project, and the surplus funds are placed in an A-bomb Dome Preservation Fund. To this day, people around the country continue to donate funds to preserve the A-bomb Dome.

  • December 1996 Supported by the people of Hiroshima who demanded that it be preserved in perpetuity, the A-bomb Dome becomes a common heritage of the human race.

The World Heritage Convention, an international effort to preserve valuable cultural and natural assets

This convention was designed to preserve for future generations cultural and natural legacies with conspicuous and universal value. It was adopted in 1972 by a general session of UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization). Japan signed the convention in 1992. Member nations now number 146. The World Heritage List was a creation of this convention.
Countries nominate their own sites; the World Heritage Committee evaluates them and meets each year to decide which sites to register on the World Heritage List. To date, 380 sites have been registered as cultural heritage and 107 as natural heritage. Adding the 19 dual-category sites, the total number of sites now registered stands at 506 (as of December 1996). Among the cultural sites registered are the pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the Buddhist monuments in the Horyuji Temple area in Japan (Nara). Natural sites include Grand Canyon National Park in the United States and the Shirakami-sanchi Beech Forest in Japan (Aomori and Akita).

Former Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall in 1930,used by the citizens of Hiroshima
The vicinity of the A-Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park is designated as the Beautification Zone of the World Heritage for preserving the A-Bomb Dome.

Inside of the present A-Bomb Dome reinforced by preservation work

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