Hiroshima Survivors Slam US as Atomic Bomber Enola Gay Goes On Show
Published on Friday, December 12, 2003 by the Agence France Presse
Hiroshima Survivors Slam US as Atomic Bomber Enola Gay Goes On Show

WASHINGTON - Fifty-eight years after they were engulfed by a firestom set off by a US atom bomb, Hiroshima blast survivors pleaded with the United States to honor their pain before the plane used in the raid goes on public display.

Three aging Hiroshima victims travelled from Japan to lodge written protests with President George W. Bush and the National Air and Space Museum, before the bomber, dubbed Enola Gay, goes on display to the public on Monday.

They accuse the museum of dishonoring the memory of tens of thousands of civilians killed in the blast, and a second atom bomb attack on Nagasaki in 1945, by not displaying casualty figures next to the plane.

"If the Enola Gay is going to be displayed, they should also say what happened beneath the plane on a day the bomb was dropped," said Sunao Tsuboi, who was around a mile (kilometer) from the epicenter of the blast on August 6, 1945.

"I was under this cloud," Tsuboi, who still bears the scars from the blast, said at a press conference, as he pointed to an enlarged photo of a mushroom cloud towering over Hiroshima minutes after the attack.

The Enola Gay, a gleaming sliver B-29 Superfortress bomber goes on public display at a new annex of the National Air and Space Museum, near Dulles airport outside Washington on Monday.

It will bear a label describing it as the "most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II."

The text mentions the technological prowess of the aircraft and how it "found its niche on the other side of the globe."

"On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan."

Survivors claim the exhibit ignores the agony of around 230,000 people killed in the blast and from subsequent radiation poisoning, as well as the decades of pain endured by those who were injured.

The museum's director, retired general John Dailey, has resisted groups who want the death toll included.

"We don't do it for other airplanes," he told AFP. "From a consistency standpoint, we focus on the technical aspects."

In a petition signed by 25,000 people sent to Bush and Dailey, survivors say they cannot "repress our deep astonishment and anger."

"To exalt this Enola Gay -- which caused an unprecedented atrocity that violated all norms of morality and international law -- as testimony to "technological achievement" is completely unacceptable to the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Also see: Committee for a National Discussion of Nuclear History and Current Policy

© Copyright 2003 AFP