On 21 September, the 7th Peace Bell Ringing Ceremony was held at Osaka Expo ’70 Commemorative Park.
More than 100 people attended the ceremony, including representatives of the embassies and consulates of 21 countries. The ceremony was also attended by Mayor Okahara of Uwajima City, the birthplace of the UN Peace Bell, which I believe made Chiyoji Nakagawa very happy. The ceremony began with an opening address by Representative Director Takase, followed by congratulatory speeches from the guests, after which all participants were invited to toll the Peace Bell, sending out a prayer for peace to the world.
After the bell-ringing, a choir composed of former and present ambassadors and ambassadors’ wives from 12 countries performed a chorus for peace with wonderful harmonious voices. Director Tomari gave a closing speech at the end of the ceremony, and after that, participants enjoyed the sounds of the bamboo forest by taking a walk next to the festival site, where the sound of the small Peace Bells echoed through the forest.
On 13 September, I attended the Peace Bell Ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York; as it was raining lightly on 13 September, the ceremony took place in a building with a view of the Peace Bell.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the General Assembly Dennis Francis tolled the bell, followed by remarks by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Kimihiro Ishikane and UN Deputy Secretary-General Melissa Fleming. Mr Shinichiro Abe, the creator of the Japanese Garden, also attended the ceremony, which included a tea offering by the 100-year-old Grand Master Sen Genshitsu.
In the afternoon, I visited the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and received an award from Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Kimihiro Ishikane at an awarding ceremony of the Ambassador’s Commendation. I also received warm hospitality from the Ambassador and his wife at the Ambassador’s residence.
I was on a forced schedule, leaving Haneda on the 12th, attended the ceremony on the 13th and left New York on the 14th to return home. Although I had to use a cane and wheelchair, everyone was kind to me along the way, and the kindness of people deeply impressed me.
Representative: Seiko Takase
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.