The following anecdote has gone viral, seen as a gaffe by someone ignorant of the atomic bombing of the city.
From The morning catch-up: a Battlebus poll, a surprising secrecy advocate and a majestic gaffe
Finally (thanks to Iain Macintosh), Daniel Finkelstein in Saturday's Times (pay wall), recalls William Hague's visit to Japan:
He went with a group of MPs, and one of them had a pressing question to ask the mayor of Hiroshima. “Everywhere else we’ve been in Japan,” said the MP, “the streets have been higgledy-piggledy. Yet here in Hiroshima your streets are laid out in a well-organised grid. How did you achieve that?”
The mayor paused and quietly responded: “We had some help. From the Americans.”
Finkelstein insists the story is true, but he won't say who the former MP is.
"Help" is is being used rather ironically here, as can be seen by the pause. It means the city being the target of an atomic bomb. As described in the NZ Herald:
A commenter who lived in Hiroshima says the story rings true, explaining that residents of the city are "prone to joking about the American-assisted urban renewal project of 1945".
Like the commenter, I suspect the conversation did take place. However, I don't know if the explanation, that the USA bombed Hiroshima, eliminating virtually all buildings, enabling the government to start from scratch and change the layout of its streets, is correct.
Did Hiroshima change the layouts of its streets subsequent to the war, using the opportunity based on buildings being damaged or destroyed by the bombing?