About the Peace Bell in U.N. Headquarters

About the Peace Bell in U.N. Headquarters

Japan's "Peace Bell" at the United Nations headquarters in New York

The Japanese Peace Bell in the United Nations headquarters was donated by Chiyoji Nakagawa through the Japanese United Nations Association in June 1954.

The Peace Bell is made of metals including coins that were contributed by the U.N. representatives of 65 countries, and nine gold coins by Pope Pius XII, who agreed with the purpose proposed by Chiyoji Nakagawa, who was a member of the board of the Japanese U.N. Association and an ex-Mayor of Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

In his speech made at the 6th United Nations General Assembly in Paris, Chiyoji Nakagawa proposed to “make a Peace Bell that would include coins to be donated by those who strive for peace from around the world, cross border, regardless of differences in religion.” His speech was well received.

With the support of Benjamin Cohen, U.N. Deputy Director-General, the Peace Bell was realized. The Peace Bell was cast by Tada Foundry, Takamatsu City, Ehime Prefecture. There are eight Kanji letters molded on the surface of the Peace Bell, meaning “The Bell for Absolutely Peaceful World, Cheers.” Around the sweet spot of the bell where a wooden hammer hits at is a molded laurel leaf, which symbolizes peace.

The Peace Bell tower was designed based on the concept of a small temple with floral decoration, which was built by Rinpei Ooshita, a carpenter specializing in temple and shrine architecture. As such, the Peace Bell is the result of cooperation by many people who agreed with Nakagawa.

The Bell is rung today on the vernal equinox day in March, on the opening day of U.N. General Assembly in September, and on September 21st, the International Day of Peace, an event of the United Nations.

Link to the International Day of Peace (U.N. website)

Proposal on Peace Bell

Man has been suffered from wars since prehistory, and the peace has been a long cherished wish of man. Nations and the group of nations, i.e. United Nations, have a role to play for realizing peace, and intelligence of the world collectively has been striving for peace.

We can envisage that wars in the future, that were to use atomic and/or hydrogen bombs, shall destroy science, culture and morality of man completely without leaving any trace.

I have to say that to try to counter power by power without renouncing war is an act of foolishness of man with no end.

Hoping that our era is to see the end of wars and the start of an era of no wars, I have collected coins from over twenty countries in Europe and Asia and have a Peace Bell cast in March 1950. The Peace Bell was installed in Taihei Temple, Uwajima City, which is my home town. The Bell is rung every morning and evening in order for reposing of souls.

The sound of the Peace Bell is a voice of people strongly aspiring peace, just like the sound of the evening bell of Millet, the Liberty Bell of Philadelphia, and the bells of Buddhist temples. I brought recorded sound of the Peace Bell to the 6th U.N. General Assembly in Paris, and proposed to cast a Peace Bell for Absolutely Peaceful World, to appeal to souls of all the people around the world.

With the help rendered by Benjamin Cohen, the Deputy Director-General of U.N., I collected coins from 65 countries, Pope Pius XII, and people from nations, and completed the Peace Bell on 24 October 1952, and presented it to the U.N. headquarters.

Further, at the most critical time of Berlin Crisis of 1961, sister bells were cast and presented to US President J. F. Kennedy and USSR Prime Minister Khrushchev through their ambassadors in Tokyo, appealing that the two leaders can make people around the world smile if they change their thoughts a bit.

The United Nations is the world organization, participated by 122 nations, to resolve political, economical, and social problems. I believe that it would be quite difficult to realize Absolute Peace in contrast to tangible problems which could be solved.

Look at the wars in Middle-East; without resolving the conflicts that have existed between Israel and Arab for thousands of years, there would be no real peace.

Look at Vietnam; I can not overlook the importance of conversation between US and Vietnam with peace in mind.

By spreading peace in peoples’ mind, and by having a religion peace conference, a mission for realizing absolute peace could be fulfilled. Without peace in mind, there will be no peace in the real life.

I urge urgently to address intangible issues as well. I wish to see a religion peace conference to be held, which is one of the agenda of U.N.

As the UNESCO Constitution stipulates, let us construct a fort of peace in each individual’s mind. Let us also tie souls of individuals, and let us make peace as the motto of mankind. Let us respect human beings thoroughly. Let us wish for a world as one family.

I wish to see the spirit of the Peace Bell is proliferated to each family and each individuals.

[1 November 1967 U.N. Ehime Newspaper]

Link to UNESCO Constitution (U.N. website)