NEW YORK – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Wednesday joined other officials and guests in celebrating the return of the Peace Bell, donated 61 years ago by Chiyoji Nakagawa, a peace activist and former mayor of a Japanese city, to the renovated Japanese Garden at the organization’s New York headquarters.
The 115-kilogram bell, cast with coins collected from more than 60 countries and a gold coin gifted by the bishop of Rome, is rung by the U.N. chief every year on the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.
At the ceremony to mark the bell’s return, Ban said, “Over the last five years that the Peace Bell was away, too many innocent people around the world have heard only the sounds of guns and bombs,” adding that “this bell still represents the collective desire for the world to live in peace.”
The bell had been temporarily relocated to another garden while the renovation of the headquarters complex took place.
Nakagawa became involved in activities for peace after his experiences during World War II, where he fought in Burma, now Myanmar, and lost many friends. He donated the bell to the United Nations through a nonprofit group in 1954, two years before Tokyo joined the global organization.
He later became mayor of Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture in western Japan in 1959 and died in 1972 while in office at age 66.
His son Shikataro, 65, and daughter Seiko Takase, 67, took part in the ceremony on Wednesday.
Takase told Kyodo News, “While we see conflicts in various parts of the world, I hope the United Nations will exert efforts in leading the world to peace.”
Shikataro said, “People might say ringing the bell has nothing to do with making peace, but I believe the sound of a hanging bell has the power to bring peace to people’s hearts. I hope everyone will have a heart for peace.”