On 6 January 2024, a lecture by lawyer Hando Taiki was held in Tama City. Young people and children attended, perhaps because of the unique theme of ‘The Lion in the Cage’. The lecture started at 1.30pm and lasted for three hours, but the lecturer’s speaking style was fun and the tempo was good, making the three hours seem short. The children listened quietly to the talk. In his speech, he compared the ‘cage’ to the Constitution and the ‘country (power)’ to a lion. I learnt that it is thanks to the ‘cage’ that we are able to say what we want to say freely and without worry, and that we are protected by the Constitution. To be honest, I thought that the Constitution was not directly relevant to me, but once again I learnt that it is relevant to our daily lives. The lecture made me feel closer to the Constitution.
On 4 January, we went to Kamakuraguu Shrine for Hatsumohde (New Year’s visit), where we were prayed for by the chief priest Koiwa.
On New Year’s Day in 2024, there was a big earthquake and it was like a dragon running wild, but I was reminded of the raging nature and how powerless we humans are.
The prayer of the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell wish peace for all, but we have to think about what we can act to make it a reality. At the beginning of the year, we prayed for the realization of peace in the region, the country and the world.
On 24 December 2023, an event organized by Ms Sue Hiromi, representative of the OHAO Project, was held at SHIBAURA HAUSU.
Two secretaries from the Ethiopian Embassy attended the event and explained the history of Ethiopia. Ms Yamamoto Junko of the Ethiopian Art Club presented a picture-story show about Ethiopian coffee folklore.
Gourmet tour students from the University of Tokyo prepared Ethiopian dishes, which were served to the participants on the spot. Afterwards, we were given a talk about the UN Peace Bell and the event ended with a dance by the Ethiopian Dance Club in traditional costume…it was an event full of excitement.
We interacted with about 40 participants, and on the way back each one of them rang the peace bell and prayed for peace in the world.
On 8 December 2023, we were contacted by Mr Kusu Kazuhito, a teacher at Uwajima Higashi High School, so we rushed over from Tokyo. The first-year students of the International Studies Club visited Taiheiji Temple, where they heard a lot about the parent bell of the UN Peace Bell, the Taiheiji Bell, from the chief priest, Mr Hoshino Ryushin. The bell was dedicated in 1950 by the future mayor of Uwajima, Nakagawa Chiyoji, who engraved the words “Long Live Absolute World Peace” in a wish for world peace. However, after 70 years, it had deteriorated and cracked, so it could only be rung on special occasions. When the students of the International Studies Club found out about this, they discussed the idea of building their own bell and donating it to Taiheiji Temple.We were moved by the passion of the students. We would like to support them so that they can realize their dream.
On 18 November 2023, a study session entitled “Thinking about Palestine now” was held by the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell. The lecturer, a former news director of NHK, spoke from various angles and perspectives about the history of the division of the region, problems under international law that existed before the Gaza crisis, the current situation of it and the responses of various countries to it.
In particular, when she introduced the words of children from Palestine who had visited Hiroshima, they said, “I saw that Hiroshima, which had suffered the same way as us, had now become a city of peace. I was surprised and felt hope and aspiration.” These words made a strong impression on me. It reaffirmed for me that beyond the sadness, suffering and hatred that had been created, there are examples of peace being created right in front of our eyes.
I was also impressed by the last question, which asked if the place to return to is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration was adopted for the principle of never repeating the horrors of the Second World War, and I was reminded that our seniors had properly laid the foundations for building the future.
We would like to continue to organize study groups like this to think about peace in the future. We look forward to your participation.
Director: Katsura Masanori
9 November 2023, I attended the Carillon Peace Gathering in Itami City.
A concert commemorating the Day of the Bells of Flanders was held at the carillon tower erected on the ruins of Arioka Castle on the west side of Itami Station, with performances by Nakamura Kazuyo and Norisada Mari . The carillon was presented to Itami City by the Belgian city of Hasselt in 1990 as a symbol of peace and friendship. The weather was fine and many people gathered, and the sound of the carillon echoed in the blue sky.
A peace talk event followed at the Itami Municipal Theatre Hall, where I spoke about the Peace Bell and Nakagawa Chiyoji. Around 50 people attended the talk event. Most of them did not know about the UN Peace Bell, but there was one who knew Chiyoji directly. After the talk, the participants answered questions and rang the 4 kg peace bell I had brought.
I used to live in Itami City for about two years when my family was struggling financially. My family of six lived in a rented room in a beer factory. I travelled one and a half hours hand in hand with my younger brother across fields and mountains to go to primary school. Itami is a place with deep memories.
After taking commemorative photo, the event ended with everyone singing “Hometown” together. It was a pleasant time.
Representative Director: Takase Seiko