Photo/IllutrationThe floating oyster restaurant operates on the Motoyasugawa river, just 200 meters south of the Atomic Bomb Dome, background, in Hiroshima. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

HIROSHIMA--A floating oyster restaurant operating in close proximity to the Atomic Bomb Dome here has some residents so incensed that they are petitioning UNESCO to step in and protect the World Heritage site.

A citizens group contends that such commercial activity undermines the universal value of a building where people pray to console the souls of victims who perished in the city's Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing.

Kakibune Mondai o Kangaeru Kai (Organization Against Moving the Oyster Restaurant Near the A-Bomb Dome) in December called on UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to carry out an inspection to judge for itself.

“The Atomic Bomb Dome was designated a World Heritage site due to collective petitions that contained many signatures of citizens,” said Tetsuo Kaneko, a representative member of the group. “The voice of citizens should be taken seriously.”

The restaurant is operating on the Motoyasugawa river, just 200 meters south of the historic monument.

It moved to the current location from a downstream area in September 2015 after the central government granted the operator a permission to do business there.

In a petition sent to the World Heritage Committee and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory panel to UNESCO, Kakibune Mondai o Kangaeru Kai called for a reactive monitoring mission to examine conditions of the Atomic Bomb Dome.

The group said the restaurant is operating within the buffer zone where land development is limited to protect the World Heritage site.

It said Hiroshima city authorities had placed priority on tourism and ignored its request to stop commercial development in the buffer zone.

Standards for the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage stipulate that sufficient buffer zones should be secured around World Heritage sites and appropriate protection offered.

The group said it planned to send a delegation to a meeting in France in February of a nongovernmental organization that monitors the situation surrounding World Heritage sites around the world.

In June 2015, Kaneko, also a representative member of the Hiroshima Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, and other residents sued the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, demanding the ministry cancel its permission for the oyster restaurant.

The plaintiffs, which included hibakusha atomic bomb survivors, argued that serving alcoholic drinks and food near the Atomic Bomb Dome is inappropriate.

The Hiroshima District Court in September rejected the plaintiffs’ claim, ruling that it cannot be said that the central government committed “an error that cannot be overlooked” in granting the permission.