On August 6, 2023, we commemorated a day that must not be forgotten. I participated in the 31st Hiroshima WPFC (World Peace Flag Ceremony) with Ms Yoko Takigawa, a Hiroshima WPFC member and a member of the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell.
The ceremony started early in the morning at 7am, under the strong heat of the sun and listening to the sound of cicadas, each person waved the flags of 194 countries in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where the bomb was dropped, and prayed for peace in each country and all regions on earth. At the beginning and end of the ceremony, I also rang the four-kilogram UN Peace Bell, which was presented to the City of Hiroshima last year, and prayed silently for peace. We asked passers-by to join us in ringing the peace bell. We also explained that soil from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is buried under the foundation stone of the UN Peace Bell’s belfry in New York.
We are grateful to the representative of the organizer, Ms Miharu Otani, for her various kindnesses and for allowing us to take part in this wonderful ceremony.
On 20 June 2023, the 16th Overseas Development Study Group hosted by Mr Sakae Kadota of Directforce was held at Josuikan in Hitotsubashi, where I gave a talk on the UN Peace Bell.
On 11 July, we were invited to a concert at the Book House Café in Kanda Jimbocho, featuring Misato Yoshida on violin who won awards for excellence at the National Classical Music Competition of Japan, and pianist Masaaki Hirasawa. Here, we also introduced the activities of the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell and rang the 4 kg bell we had brought with us.
On 25 June 2023, I received an invitation from Mr Takeyuki Nakazawa of the Japan Shoka(song) and Children’s Song Education Society to attend a public lecture on children’s songs. The event took place on the fifth floor of a bakery called TAKASE Sugamo, and was attended by about 30 people.
I was grateful that he introduced everyone to the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell at the beginning of the course.
The lecturer was Ms Michi Kato, daughter of lyricist Shogo Kato, who wrote the lyrics to ‘Mikan no Hana Saku Oka’ (The Hill Where the Mandarin Oranges Bloom) and ‘Kawaii Sakanaya san’ (The Lovely Fish Shop). I listened to her talk about the secret stories behind the creation of the songs and nostalgic episodes of her father’s life, which I would not normally know, and felt a sense of overflowing emotion towards him.
I learnt for the first time that Mr Shogo Kato established shoka(song) and children’s songs as a pedagogy and founded an academic society.
On 4 June 2023, the 8th study meeting was held face-to-face for the first time in a year. There was a lot of enthusiasm at the study meeting, with the 30 participants listening with a serious attitude and asking lively questions.
Mr Hirotaka Kido, President of the Japan Branch of the World Federalist Movement Association and a sixth generation direct descendant of Takayoshi Kido, spoke as a lecturer. Mr Kido spoke on the profound theme of ‘Beyond Modernity – The Limits of the Modern State and the Modern Ego’ and how modernity was a major turning point for Japan. He concluded his speech by explaining that a man from Japan, who had just lost the war, named Chiyoji Nakagawa, attended the UN General Assembly in 1951 as an individual and appealed for the creation of a peace bell to be presented to the UN, collecting coins from all over the world.
Hirotaka Kido is an advisor to the Association for the Preservation of the UN Peace Bell, providing guidance and advice.
On 24 May 2023, we were invited by Mr Kenji Sekine, representative of United People Ltd, to participate in the Peace Wine Project in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Before planting the grape saplings, we told the story of the UN Peace Bell at the Peace Bell Ceremony and sounded the 1 kg Peace Bell we had brought with us.
In the wonderful blue sky and green expanse of land, people of different nationalities and ages gathered together. We planted grape seedlings together as if we had known each other for a long time, dined on wildflower salad and had a good time. This is what peace is all about. We are very grateful to the chairman of the ecovillage, Ms Junka Sakamoto, for her kindness.
The day before, we watched a film about Palestinian issues, Israel and Russia called ‘The Pianist from Ramallha’ in Sapporo, and had a social event where participants discussed the issues. It was a fulfilling two days.
Lecture at Uwatsu Primary School
On 15 May 2023, I gave a lecture at Uwatsu Elementary School in Uwajima city. It has been five years since I gave a lecture at there, in May 2018. In January this year, Principal Mr Takao Seike asked me to give a lecture at the school and I was delighted to accept. Mr Seike was the principal at Mimaki Primary School when I gave the lecture in December 2019.
The principal told me that as part of their peace learning, it is not just about watching books and videos, but actually listening to the story that will touch the children’s hearts. Next week, the sixth graders will visit Nagasaki as part of their peace studies. After the lecture, I asked the children to ring the bell and also heard from many of them what they thought.
We were impressed and very happy that they listened to us so attentively.