1. Returning to a Normal Condition
The recovery operations led by the army were taken over by the administration from the middle of August. In September, when demobilization had started, the rest of the recovery operations were conducted by the prefecture and the city. Later on, operations were shifted from recovery to restoration. The closure of relief stations on October 5, due to the lapsing of the 2-month period based on the Wartime Damage Protection Law, was an obvious change. However, it was the beginning of the so-called “lost decade,” when the a-bomb victims felt discarded by society.
There was an urgent necessity to resume the administrative system which had been halted after the atomic bombing. At Hiroshima City Hall, although Deputy Mayor Morishita served as an acting mayor instead of Mayor Awaya, who was killed in the bombing, it was necessary to select a successor immediately. A city council was held on August 20, where Ichiro Fujita (chairperson of Fujita Gumi) was appointed as the new mayor, but he declined the offer. Then, September 29, Shichiro Kihara (member of Lower House) was elected and he accepted it. After the Ministry of the Interior’s process, finally a new mayor was inaugurated. In the winter of that year, operation of City Hall was conducted in the burned buildings which was windswept without window frames.
As mentioned later, the process of the prefecture’s return to a normal state had to start with securing a place for operations. It also needed to secure officers—in particular, recruiting police officers was an urgent problem. Thus, police officers were recruited from the demobilized army and “Nearly 300 people from marine teams in Otake, Kure and Yasuura and Naval Aviator Preparatory Course Trainees from Kure were half-compelled to” enter the Police Training Institute. Unprecedented trouble where trainees ran away from the institute occurred, but about 700 police officers were employed by the end of October, securing a total of 1,784, including the injured and those who had demobilized from the army (Shinpen Hiroshima Keisatsu Shi (Chronicle of Hiroshima Police Station) p679).
Budgeting was one of the challenges for returning to a normal state. The city council was summoned to discuss an additional budget for restoration on August 25. Two days before that, Hirahara Chief of the Domestic Affairs Division, invited Shiro Ichikawa, the General Affairs Chief of the Takada Branch, to compile a budget. “No prefectural employees who understood finance and budget had survived” (Kenchou Genbakuhisaishi (Chronice of A-bomb Damage to the Prefectural Office) p.144). Soon after he started to work, Ichikawa composed a draft of a bill. As the amount of the current budget was unclear, it was difficult to clarify the amount of the additional budget. Then, Ichikawa established a new budget combining the additional and current budgets together to receive approval from the council. After approval, prefectural officers were dispatched to the houses of city council members to collect additional money. It was not until the end of September that the current budget as of July became clear.(Sengo Hiroshima Kenseishi (Hisotry of Hiroshima Municipal Government after the War) p9).
The prefectural administration was unable to operate without financing. Chief Hinohara struggled with recruiting, and by November, a total of 10 employees joined to budget division and tax division by hiring from local branch offices and people demobilized from the army. They promptly composed the budget for the fiscal year 1946, which was scheduled to be discussed in the prefectural meeting in December. In order to plan the budget, the required materials had to be compiled from each department and division. However, since most of the employees who were engaged in budgeting mainly worked at the main building of the prefectural office, most of them died in the atomic bombing. Thus, there were few employees who knew about budgeting. In addition, the basic materials for budgeting were lost and furthermore there were departments whose budget was unclear. In the end, they needed to plan a budget from scratch by collecting materials and relying on the memories of employees. (Ibid.)
The settlement adjustment for fiscal 1944 “required tremendous efforts because almost all the accounting documents were burned and lost. Inviting the person in charge, who suffered from illness caused by the atomic bomb…..Somehow, we managed to complete the documents based on surviving materials.” They were distressed and perplexed. (Ibid. p26)
As mentioned above, some documents escaped from the fire and were transferred from the evacuation area as the restoration process proceeded. However, due to the loss of a considerable amount of the documents, it was obvious that trouble would occur in operations. In a meeting of directors and section chiefs on August 18, they agreed to “obtain bank account books from other prefectures as directed before” (Sensai Kiroku (Chronicle of War-Damage) p137).
Office supplies for employees to work also needed to be arranged. There is a story about trouble that prefectural employees had. “Together, we were busy getting office supplies. As a result, we started to work with damaged desks and chairs by collecting evacuated items, etc.” “It was impossible to purchase commodities required by the prefecture. Although, supplies from other prefectures were not in good condition and hard to use. The Supplies Division received lots of criticism” (Sengo Hiroshima Kenseishi (History of Hiroshima Municipal Government after the War) p25).
Shuichi Kodama (later to become the director of the Hiroshima Printing Bureau and a member of the prefectural assembly) who was assigned to recover printing systems picked up a printer and employees which the Army Clothing Supply Division evacuated and also brought a casting machine from a diving training school in Otake City. Regarding office supplies, he brought back necessary office suppliers from the Supply Division in Kaita. Trucks for transportation were diverted from the Army’s Clothing Supply Division (Sengo Gojunen Hiroshima Kensei no Ayumi (50-year History of post-war Hiroshima Prefectural Government) p 282).
Because it was evacuated to Honkawa National School, the Infrastructure Division lost a large part of its employees. Moreover, a typhoon hit Hiroshima, causing an unprecedented disaster. The disaster recovery plan was created with support from other prefectures (Sengo Hiroshima Kenseishi (Hisotry of Hiroshima Municipal Government after the War) p.85). 10 out of 20 officers of the City Planning Division, Infrastructure Department died and the rest were severely injured. Only Chief Sadakura Takeshige, who had a minor injury, and several officers who were away due to a business trip, survived and were in good health. Right before plotting the restoration plan, the process started with a few officers (Sengo Gojunen Hiroshima Kensei no Ayumi (50-year History of post-war Hiroshima Prefectural Government) p 284).
2. Transfer of Government Buildings
In order to return to normal operations, the prefectural office needed to be transferred from the Higashi Police Station, which was being used provisionally, to another building. On August 16, as candidates for a new office, Toyo Kogyo and Japan Steel Works were investigated. As a result, it was reported that the former was not damaged and accessible to the station while the latter was severely damaged and far from the station. The day after that, Toyo Kogyo agreed to rent the building. On August 20, the prefectural office was transferred to Toyo Kogyo in Fuchumachi, Aki District. At that time, it was a difficult situation in which there were not even chairs and desks for officers. Thus, we used former army military goods and rented from various institutions and managed to operate routinely” (Sengo Hiroshima Kenseishi (Hisotry of Hiroshima Municipal Government after the War) p26).
Shiro Ichikawa recalled that prefectural officers visited him on August 23 and visited the prefectural domestic affairs department that day. There were makeshift long tables and chairs in the office. However, there were officers who did not have their own desks. They used the desks of other workers who were absent. There were a few officers who came to work every day. Because the transportation system had not yet recovered, they came early in the morning and when they stayed till late at night, they slept on their desks (Ibid. p9).
Having spent winter in such conditions, as fiscal year 1946 was about to begin, construction for the government’s own buildings started. At first, a barrack-style building was planned, but the construction expense was 6 million yen and the buildings would be unusable for 5 years. Thus, they considered renovating the Army’s Weapon Supply Division, inherited from the Army, and making it the prefectural office. It was predicted that the building could not be used since the roof and windows were left broken after the bombing and it would cost a lot to repair them. However, it was found that repairs could be carried out with relatively little cost. From late spring, construction started at top speed and workers began transferring to the new buildings as they were completed. (Ibid. p10). The announcement of the transfer was issued on June 20.
Regarding the restoration of other buildings, such as municipal schools and famous landmarks, “students of municipal schools were studying under the open sky and did not have classes on snowy and rainy days. It was a hard damage both administratively and educationally. A restoration plan was composed immediately. Then, in 1946, a tentative barrack building was built due to the budget and other conditions. Administrative functions and education were continued. From 1947, major construction started but still walls were made from boards and windows were covered with paper instead of glass. But, after three years, schools and governmental offices were gradually restored” (Ibid. p83).
The prefectural office was transferred to a warehouse of the Army’s Supply Division, and finally secured a place of its own. However, the warehouse had cracks caused by the Nankai Earthquake and there was a possibility that the warehouse would collapsed in the event of another earthquake. Also, it consisted of eight buildings without passages that connected those buildings. Since it used to be a warehouse, lights had to be turned on all the time. Also, it was not very accessible. Thus, for such reasons, there was a need to construct a new building in the center of the city (Ibid p84). However, it was difficult to do because of continuous financial difficulties. The new prefectural office building was completed on April 19, 1956 which was 10 years after the atomic bombing (Sengo Gojunen Hiroshima Kensei no Ayumi (50-year History of post-war Hiroshima Prefectural Government) p91).