“We Need to be Remembered”: Hiroshima’s Story-Telling Movement in Post-War Japan

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Daishiro NOMIYA, Chuo University, Japan
In its transformation from the site of total destruction to the site of global peace, the city of Hiroshima has ridden on one particular movement: movement to preserve story-telling of those directly exposed to the mass destruction by the drop of the atomic bomb in 1945. This paper, by tracing its historical trajectories, attempts to identify the conditions and factors necessary for the development of a collective story-telling movement in Hiroshima.

An original form of the movement can be found in scattered individual story-telling practices by parents to their children. In the last decades of the 20th century, it surged into a huge movement. The movement started as a civil collective response to the inevitable human oblivion. The collaborative effort by citizens of different generations, together with the city government, turned itself into a huge rally to fight against the war. Today, it has come to the point where the movement has a significant impact on contemporary Japanese society through its influence on city, regional and national cultural policies. How is it possible, then, that it has grown into a big cultural movement?

The movement poses serious methodological problems in our effort of observation. With no obvious scenes of resistance, no clear demarcation of membership, it easily escapes the eyes of the observers. To capture the developmental phases of the movement, we need to observe the change in the discourse sphere, together with events and incidents taking place here and there.

Findings to date are: (1) the biggest juncture that led the movement to take-off was a cognitive turn, in which hitherto individual efforts of story-telling became a collective to a fight against human oblivion, and (2) its policy influence came into reality when the movement provided a cultural justification on which the governments claim its intended policies.