ABSTRACT

In July 1963, 28-year-old novelist Ôe Kenzaburô 1 arrived in Hiroshima to do research for a series of essays about the A-bombed city. His first stop was the Ninth World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. As he sat in the vast hall taking notes, Ôe felt tremendously gloomy about the contention among delegates over the proper anti-nuclear stance. The positions staked out reveal the extent to which the ideological battles of the Cold War transpired in Japan:

At that time, some of the leftist groups [ … ] were strongly influenced by China and others by the USSR. The Soviet-influenced groups wanted to believe that Soviet nuclear arms were somehow clean, the armaments of justice. The Maoists were attacking both Soviet Russia and the USA, saying that all nuclear arms were menacing world peace, so there could be no such thing as ‘clean’ nuclear arms. [ … ] The viewpoints of these groups were incompatible, could not be reconciled in any way, and these various incompatible factions were all assembled in Hiroshima. 2