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Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors Deplore Enola Gay

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Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivors Deplore Enola Gay Display

TOKYO -- Survivors of the United States' 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima in western Japan lashed out Wednesday at the planned public display of the Enola Gay, the aircraft used to drop the bomb that razed the city.

Washington's Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum unveiled on Monday the restored Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber that released "Little Boy" above the city on August 6, 1945, killing some 230,000 people, including victims of its radiation exposure.

"For us, the Enola Gay just equals the atomic bomb," said Sunao Tsuboi, the 78-year-old director general of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organization.

"Displaying the plane is not only an insult to us but also glorifies the bombing," said Tsuboi, who has burn scars on his head and face from the explosion and is suffering from cancer believed to be caused by radiation exposure.

The public will be able to see the plane when the Smithsonian's new 68,400-square-meter (760,000-square-foot) Steven Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington's Dulles International Airport formally opens December 15.

Exhibiting the aircraft has long been controversial. In 1995, the Air and Space Museum canceled one exposition that included part of the fuselage of the Enola Gay on the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

The museum came under fire as U.S. war veterans claimed the planned exhibition focused excessively on Japanese victims and ignored the fact that the bombing effectively forced Japan's surrender, ending World War II.

Museum director Jack Dailey reportedly said the museum had no intention of repeating the controversy, adding that the display was part of its effort to highlight the development of air and space technology in U.S. history.

But survivors were not convinced.

"It was obviously a living-body test that killed children, adults, the elders and women indiscriminately," said Akito Suemune, 76, director general of the Hiroshima Council Against A and H Bombs.

"We don't believe the display is for the purpose of technology," said Suemune, who was 18 when "Little Boy" was dropped. "The exhibition is seen as a campaign by the U.S. authorities to support the use of atomic bombs and show off its nuclear power," he said. "As survivors we cannot let the exhibition go ahead."

The two survivors' groups have already sent protest messages to the museum, and Hiroshima City is considering following suit, AFP reported.

"We have not decided whether we will take action at this moment," said Yasuyuki Yakushiji, a Hiroshima city official in charge of measures for atomic bomb victims. "But if the museum places statement notes justifying the bombing, we have to consider making a protest," Yakushiji said. "For us, what matters is the victims' feeling about the exhibition."

It is the first time the Enola Gay has been completely assembled since 1960. The restoration, financed with private donations, began in 1984 and required 300,000 hours of work.

The Hiroshima bombing was followed by the dropping of a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, which killed another estimated 74,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later.

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