Atomic bomb literature includes a wide spectrum of writings: historical, political, scientific, journalistic, as well as what is traditionally considered literary: novels, poems, and plays. But such distinctions encounter special problems when they are applied to atomic bomb literature, two of which I will discuss in this paper: fictionalizing fact in first-person narratives and fictionalizing fictions.
The first-person narrative in atomic bomb literature challenges the boundaries of fiction in a number of ways. Ōta Yōko, for example, attempted to fictionalize the facts of Hiroshima. The series of novels and short stories from Shikabane no machi to Yūnagi no machi to hito to is clearly based on Ōta’s experiences of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, and yet these works are also clearly fictionalized, so that her works are at the same time documents, commentaries, and novels.
The second problem, fictionalizing a fiction, is exemplified by the case of Claude Eatherly, who was depicted in the mass media and later in works of literature as the “Hiroshima pilot” who repented his crime. A comparison of Eatherly’s letters to Günther Anders with a number of novels, plays, and poems in the context of the facts revealed in William B. Huie’s biography of Eatherly, The Hiroshima Pilot, will illustrate the intricacies of this second border clash on the boundaries of fiction.
Aioi Street in Hiroshima, also known as “Genbaku Slum”, used to be one of the largest squatter settlements in Japan. This street was never put on the map, but it expanded its scale as “Peace City” Hiroshima was gradually reconstructed. This paper examines the process how Aioi Street was named “Genbaku Slum”, seen as the object of elimination and replaced with the area of high-rise apartments called “New City”. In 1964, the term “Genbaku Slum” first appeared in Chugoku Shinbun, the local newspaper in Hiroshima. Tsukasa Nitoguri, who was one of the key players for reconstruction of Hiroshima, invented the term and used it for the issue of the Atomic Bomb Survivors' Assistance actions. At that time, this term was used to describe 6000 wooden temporary houses scattered in the city, and not just in Aioi Street. This situation changed in 1967. First, Chugoku Shinbun ran the feature stories about “Genbaku Slum” and defined Aioi Street as the only “Genbaku Slum” in the city. Those stories seemed to bruit tragic life there. Second, from 1966, the afforestation project along rivers was initiated by Hiroshima-city, that involved forcible eviction of residents in the squatter settlements. This afforestation nearly completed by 1967 except in Aioi Street. On the map in the blueprint in1967, Aioi Street was left blank in contrast to the other areas that were marked as the plan completed. In conclusion, through both semantic reduction by Chugoku Shinbun, and leaving Aioi Street aside from the focused location of forcible eviction, Aioi Street became known as “Genbaku Slum”.