• Kyodo


Visiting Lesotho King Letsie III accepted a peace stone from a Hiroshima-based civic group on Thursday, saying it “signifies the international community’s resolve to ensure that the culture of peace is cultivated throughout the world.”

“I have no doubt in my mind that through this gesture, Lesotho would have contributed toward the international solidarity of conveying to the world the message of peace that is contained in this stone,” the king of Lesotho in southern Africa said during a presentation ceremony at a Tokyo hotel.

The paving stone, which survived the city’s 1945 atomic bombing, is engraved with an image of the Buddhist goddess of mercy. It was delivered by the nonprofit Stone for Peace Association of Hiroshima.

King Letsie and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso are on a nine-day visit to Japan through Monday to mark the 45th anniversary of bilateral relations. It is their first visit to Japan.

On Friday, the king met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. On Saturday, the king and queen are scheduled to visit Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

The Hiroshima civic group says Lesotho became the 110th country in the world to receive such a stone since the start of the donation campaign in 1991.

Michio Umemoto, the group’s principal, said he hoped the stone “as an undying witness of the tragedy will keep telling the people in those nations how dear harmony, love and peace are.”

“We strongly hope that our children will live in a world free from the terror of wars, murders and hatred,” Umemoto said at the ceremony.

The granite stone is about 50 sq. cm and weighs about 50 kg. It was one of the paving stones for the Hiroshima streetcar tracks that ran just 200 meters away from ground zero.

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