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Los Alamos team visits Japan to gain perspective on atomic bombings via Santa Fe/New Mexican

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Despite the shared history between Los Alamos and the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where another bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945, New Mexico residents “don’t hear a lot about the Japanese perspective,” said Judith Stauber, director of the Los Alamos Historical Museum.

On Thursday, Stauber, museum registrar Stephanie Yeamans and 16-year-old student intern Kallie Funk of Los Alamos High School flew to Japan to conduct research for a new exhibit that will explore connections created through World War II and the Manhattan Project.

The group will travel to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to meet with researchers, an atomic bomb survivor and the directors of both the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. “There is no precedent” for a trip like this, she said.

The idea for the trip, two years in the making, became a reality through a $10,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and has been supported by the New Mexico Japanese Citizens League. The exhibit, which will open in December, has a couple of working titles: Multiple Perspectives on the Atomic Bomb or New Mexican and Japanese Perspectives on the Atomic Bomb.

In addition to collecting data in Japan for the exhibit, Stauber plans to work with local Japanese-Americans to create a component exploring the internment camps in New Mexico during World War II, including one in Santa Fe. She plans to include oral histories and community art projects.

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In contrast, said Bo Jacobs, a researcher at the Hiroshima Peace Institute who plans to meet with Stauber and her team, the history of atomic energy is told in Japan through “people who were killed, who lost family members, who were injured.” The innovation of the bomb is expressed only in “its human toll” — at least 129,000 people and possibly more than 200,000.

Jacobs said in an email that for the U.S., the atomic bomb “is the story of scientific discovery, industrial development and great political and military decisions. … The Japanese are only statistics in the story.”

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