A British man selling an artifact from the Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945 despite criticism from some Japanese who claim such items are sacred and should not be put up for auction has defended his decision.
John Watts is planning to sell a roof tile from a Buddhist temple which was damaged by the explosion. He was given the piece by the temple’s priest as a gift when he visited the city in 1952.
The move has, however, prompted criticism from some figures in Hiroshima who think it is wrong to profit from the bombing of the city.
Speaking to Kyodo News from his home in Lincoln, about 200 kilometers north of London, Watts said, “I’m 81 now, single, and nobody from my family seems to want it. Somebody might like it as a memento, and I didn’t want to throw it away.”
Watts said he had no idea there would be such adverse reaction in Japan to the sale, which takes place on Saturday, and is now considering donating half of the profits to an atomic-bomb survivors’ charity.
He said the tile from the Sairenji temple is granulated on the surface as a result of the heat rays from the explosion which reached a maximum temperature of 6,000 C for one-tenth of a second.
The priest gave him the tile when he visited the city in 1952 while on vacation from Hong Kong where he was serving in the Royal Air Force.