H.E. Ambassador Koichi Haraguchi
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Peace Bell
8 June 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to be able to attend, on behalf of the Japanese Government, the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the installation of the Peace Bell in the UN compound.
The idea of the Peace Bell was conceived by a former military officer of the Japanese Imperial Army. After having experienced numerous miseries and tragedies beyond description on the battlefield, he returned after World War II from the Burmese front, convinced of the paramount importance of peace. He travelled to 26 countries with the idea of a peace bell, and appealed for support for the idea from the remaining countries by correspondence. Eventually, he succeeded in collecting a sufficient number of coins from more than 60 countries. The Peace Bell was minted from these coins. I wish to draw your attention to the fact that this occurred in the early 1950's, that is, prior to the great rush of independence of the 1960's. That means that the Bell was minted out of coins from almost all the independent countries of the world at that time. The Bell was donated to the UN in 1954 by the UN Association of Japan.
The Peace Bell thus embodies the collective wish of the peoples of the world for peace. It is true that there have been frequent outbreaks of armed conflict in various parts of the world. That is very regrettable, but it makes it all the more important for us to continue to work for peace. It is our most sincere hope that the deep and calming sounds of the Peace Bell will continue to remind us all of the importance of peace.