Nuclear dreams and capitalist visions: The peaceful atom in Hiroshima

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In the mid-1950s, the city of Hiroshima and the survivor movement got behind the US agenda of “nuclear power for peaceful purposes.” This support included temporarily replacing the exhibits at the “the museum of the bombing” with an “Atoms for Peace” exhibit and a declaration of support by survivor organisations. The success of this move, this chapter argues, was not the result solely of American imposition, but because it was promoted in terms intimately familiar to the Japanese people. That is, as an instrument of modernity, which the Japanese have aspired to since the Meiji restoration. The atom in the 1950s was presented as the apex of modernisation, the model for which was America’s consumer glamour and technological advancements. The adoption of the atom in Japan, thus, was about the twin forces of desire and reason, each symbolised (however ironically) by America and the connection of the atom to the improvement of everyday life. Hiroshima and its survivors were far from impervious to such logic and most enthusiastically adopted the promise of the atom. It was only in the 1970s with environmental and other challenges to the logic of modernisation that serious challenges to nuclear power could start in Hiroshima.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving in a Nuclear World
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Fukushima to Hiroshima
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000541557
ISBN (Print)9781032130637
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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