New Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony access and protest restrictions

Anyone who has attended the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony on the August 6 anniversary of the A-bomb attack will know that the time before and after (and sometimes, during) the minute of silence at 8:15 am is far from peaceful.

A day of remembrance and protest

From early morning, the area around the A-bomb Dome is a cacophony of impassioned speeches from demonstrators along the political spectrum shouted through megaphones mixed with the chants of Buddhist monks and the beat of their drums, all watched over by lines of riot police and police officers who recording the proceedings with handheld video cameras.

In recent years, members of the Hiroshima Citizens’ Association Wishing for a Peaceful August 6th have joined the fray, standing silently with placards calling for quiet observance of the memorial ceremony.

Increased tensions

RCC News reported last year that, according to the Hiroshima City government, the A-bomb Dome became a focus point for protest groups about 15 years ago. As it was the departure point for anti-war and anti-nuclear marches, opposing started to gather there too. Though the atmosphere can get a little tense, but protests have typically been free of violence.

Last year, however, demonstrators who were part of a protest organized by the August 6th Hiroshima Action Committee were arrested for assaulting Hiroshima city officials. 

New restrictions announced

New measures to be enforced in response announced May 9 include expanding the area of restricted entry in the hours before the August 6 ceremony to the entire Peace Park, including the area around the Atomic Bomb Dome, banning the use of loudspeakers and microphones, bringing in placards and signs, and the wearing of items such as helmets and headbands. Baggage checks will be carried out at several entrances to the Peace Memorial Park.

You can read the full list of restrictions in English here.

While the Hiroshima Citizens’ Association Wishing for a Peaceful August 6th has welcomed the new measures, the August 6th Hiroshima Action Committee have declared that they are vehemently opposed to the measures and insist that they will be protesting on August 6 this year.

It appears that the restrictions will be in place between 5 am and 9 am so we imagine that the protest marches that are usually held on on the city’s streets following the ceremony will still be permitted.

We do wonder, however, where the monks will now pray as their drums may now be forbidden.