The Hiroshima Panels and Australia

Alexander Brown1,5

1Japan Women’s University, Tokyo, 5University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

From March until July 1958, a little more than a decade after the end of the Pacific War, the Hiroshima Panels toured Australia as part of a world tour. They are the work of artists Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi and depict the horror of the nuclear bomb they witnessed in Hiroshima. The panels were exhibited in major capital cities in Australia where they were viewed by thousands of people. As diplomatic and trading relationships with Japan thawed in the late 1950s, the Hiroshima Panels conveyed the human tragedy brought about by the use of nuclear weapons at a time when growing concerns over their use was giving birth to a global movement to ‘ban the bomb’. Speaking at the opening of the Hiroshima Panels exhibition in Canberra, Australia’s leading nuclear scientist Professor Sir Mark Oliphant, called the use of nuclear weapons against Japan a ‘human blunder’ and a misuse of nuclear technology’s potential to help ‘mankind’ (sic). This paper will examine the 1958 tour within the context of the emerging anti-nuclear movement in Australia and Japan as part of the broader postwar realignment of the relationship between the two countries.


Alexander Brown is a JSPS International Research Fellow, Japan Women’s University and an Honorary Associate, University of Technology Sydney. His research focuses on the transnational history of the anti-nuclear movement in Australia and Japan. He is the author of _Anti-nuclear Protest in Post-Fukushima Tokyo_ (Routledge 2018).


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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