Japan's Auschwitz museum raising funds for more space

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) Auschwitz Peace Museum Japan, a 100-sq.-meter facility in Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, hopes to raise funds to build a larger building to house its exhibits, officials said Monday.

News photo
Mari Obuchi, curator of Auschwitz Peace
Museum Japan in Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, explains some of the exhibits on display.

The museum, run by a nonprofit group, plans to build a 495-sq.-meter facility at a cost of some 30 million yen to 40 million yen, given that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Nazi death camp in Poland.

"The current exhibition space is so small that the materials that we have cannot be displayed sufficiently," curator Mari Obuchi, 48, said. "As this year is the 60th anniversary, we hope to build a larger facility so that it may provide many people with an opportunity to think about peace."

The museum uses part of an old house and displays some 100 items, including photographs as well as the clothing and bowls used for meals by Holocaust victims who were placed in Auschwitz.

Museum officials said the facility has about 1,000 more items for display that, due to lack of space, cannot be shown.

The museum's operators have so far raised about 10 million yen for the construction of a new building through a nonprofit organization and are seeking contributions.

The museum first opened in Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, in 2000 -- the brainchild of the late Shinshin Aoki, who came up with the idea when he visited Auschwitz as a graphic designer when he was 49. Aoki died of cancer in August 2002 at age 67. Because the land was sold, the museum was moved to Shirakawa in 2003.
For more information, contact the Auschwitz Peace Museum JAPAN at (0248) 28-2108.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, March 8, 2005
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Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Auschwitz display finds new home in Fukushima

UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) A museum in Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, that displays items on loan from Poland's Auschwitz Museum will relocate to Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture.

Museum officials said Auschwitz Heiwa Hakubutsukan should reopen at the new site in October. The museum, which was launched in April 2000 as the only facility in Japan to show personal items of Holocaust victims from the Polish facility, will close down current operations at the end of this month because the landowner plans to sell the property.

The new site, owned by a sake brewing company, is a roughly 17,800-sq.-meter plot of pasture near Shirasaka Station on the JR Tohoku Line. The company is giving the museum a break on the rent, charging only about 70,000 yen in rent a year, the officials said.

At least 50 million yen will be needed to fund the relocation, but so far donations have only totaled about 5 million yen.

"We hope to galvanize efforts to collect contributions, and continue to carry on the theme of peace and human rights hand in hand with the citizens of Shirakawa," said the museum's founder and owner, Shinshin Aoki, 67.

The museum said it received 38 offers for a new site from both within and outside Tochigi Prefecture after its fate at the Shioya location came to light.

Aoki has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and said he expects the efforts to move the Auschwitz museum will be one of the last things he will be able to accomplish during his lifetime.

The museum is not charging admission for the rest of its stay in Shioya.