Japanese Peace Bell

The Japanese Peace Bell is a United Nations peace symbol. Cast on November 24, 1952, it was an official gift of the Japanese people to the United Nations on June 8, 1954. The symbolic bell of peace was donated by Japan to the United Nations at a time when Japan had not yet been officially admitted to the United Nations. The Japanese Peace Bell was presented to the United Nations by the United Nations Association of Japan.


The Tada Factory in Japan completed the bell on United Nations Day. It was cast by Chiyoji Nakagawa, and was modelled on the Banzai Bell of Peace that he created for Uwajima Temple.[1][2][3] Nakagawa subsequently founded the World Peace Bell Association.[4][5] The bell went briefly to Osaka, Japan as part of Osaka Expo 70 and was later returned to its permanent location in New York City at 42nd Street and First Avenue, inside UN territory grounds.

Renzo Sawada, the United Nations Japanese Observer, presented the bell to the United Nations Organization. At the time of the presentation, Sawada commented that "The bell embodies the aspiration for peace not only of the Japanese but of the peoples of the entire world. Thus it symbolized the universality of the United Nations."


The bell weighs 116 kg (256 lb), with a height of 1 meter (3 ft 3 in), and 0.6 meters (2 ft 0 in) in diameter at the base. The metal in the bell itself was obtained from coins donated by delegates of 60 nations who were attending the 13th General Conference of United Nations Associations held in Paris, France in 1951. The coins were collected from the delegates by children.

Inscribed on one side of the bell are the Japanese characters that say: Long live absolute world peace 世界絶対平和萬歳.

A wooden hammer was presented to the United Nations in 1977. A bell cord blessed by Shinto priests was also presented to the United Nations on Earth Day, March 20, 1990.

The Japanese Peace Bell of the United Nations headquarters in New York City is housed in a Japanese cypress wooden structure resembling a traditional Shinto shrine. The whole structure is supported by a base of stone donated by Israel.

Events and function

Sounding the bell

Traditionally, the Japanese Peace Bell is rung twice a year. It is tolled on the first day of Spring at the time of the vernal equinox, in celebration of the annual Earth Day ceremony initiated by Earth Day Founder, John McConnell.

It is also tolled on every opening day of the UN General Assembly's yearly session in September, coinciding with the International Day of Peace established by the General Assembly in 1981. This occasion is observed by the Secretary-General.

The bell was tolled on October 4, 1966 during the Feast Day of St. Francis, marking the one year anniversary of Pope Paul VI's official visit to the United Nations.

The Bell is infrequently tolled on other special occasions.

Earth Day Celebrations

On Earth Day every year the Earth Society Foundation (founded by John McConnell), is responsible for the Earth Day celebrations that take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Each year different Honorees are selected to ring the Japanese Peace Bell as part of the celebration.[6][7]

List of Peace Bell Honorees[6]

Year Honoree(s)
1971 U Thant, Secretary-General, United Nations
1972 Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General, United Nations
1973 C.V. Narasimhan, Chef du Cabinet, Under-Secretary-General for Inter-Agency Affairs and Co-ordination, United Nations
1974 Bradford Morse, Administrator, United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
1975 Genichi Akatani, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations
1976 Robert J. Ryan, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations
1977 Margaret Mead, world renowned anthropologist
1978 Margaret Mead, Earth Day Chairperson
1979 Dr. Estefania Aldaba-Lim, Special Representative (Assistant Secretary-General), United Nations
1980 Dr. Edward Gibson, American Scientist-Astronaut, scientist-pilot Skylab 4
1981 Dr. Arvid Pardo, Malta, United Nations Ambassador, founder of the Law of the Sea Conference
1982 Mrs. René Dubos, wife of the renowned scientist, humanist and Professor Emeritus of The Rockefeller University
1983 Reverend Percival Brown, Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York
1984 Paul McRae, Member of Parliament, representing Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada
1985 Dr. Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations
1986 Dr. Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations
1987 Chester Norris, U.S. Mission, Minister Counselor, Deputy U.S. Representative to UN Economic and Social Council
Valentin Karymov, Senior Counselor, USSR Mission
Sheik Ali Mukhtar, Deputy Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
1988 Edward Abramson, New York State Majority Whip, Earth Day Chairman
Reverend Umberto Mullare
Francis McCullough, Cardinal Krol Center, Philadelphia, PA
1989 Dr. Noel Brown, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
1990 David Dinkins, Mayor, City of New York
Cynthia Lennon, artist, the United Kingdom
1991 Antoine Blanca, Director-General for Development and International Economic Co-operation, United Nations
1992 Joseph Ciccipio, former hostage in Beirut, former acting comptroller of the American University
Anicetas Simutis, Ambassador, Lithuania
Aivars Baumanis, Ambassador, Latvia
Paul Luedig, Counsellor, representing Ernst Jaakson, Ambassadore, Estonia
1993 Rigoberto Menchu Tum, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, human rights activist, Guatemala
1994 Nasir Obeid, young boy from Palestine
Daphne Tenne, young girl from Israel
1995 Edwina Sandys, artist, and granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, the late Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1996 Richard Butler, Ambassador, Australia
Anna McConnell, wife of John McConnell, Earth Day founder
1997 Razali Ismail, Ambassador, Malaysia, and President of the General Assembly, United Nations
1998 Gillian Sorensen, Under-Secretary-General for External Relations, United Nations
Kensaku Hogen, Under-Secretary for Communications and Public Information, United Nations
1999 Brother Ignatio Harding, Franciscans International Lama Gangchen, Monk, Tibet
2000 Gerhard Pfanzelter, Ambassador, Austria
2001 Mary Catherine Bateson, author and daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
2002 Mrs. Lisbet Palme, Swedish Committee for UNICEF, and wife of Olof Palme, the late Prime Minister of Sweden
2003 Pete Seeger, legendary folk musician and environmentalist
2004 John McConnell, founder of Earth Day and co-founder of the Earth Society Foundation
2005 Aye Aye Thant, daughter of U Thant, UN Secretary-General
Don MacKay, Ambassador, New Zealand, and Acting President of the General Assembly, United Nations
Eduardo J. Sevilla Somoza, Ambassador, Nicaragua
2006 Lars Hjalmar Wide, Ambassador/Chef de Cabinet, Office of the President of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly
Ambassador (& Mrs.) Shinichi Kitaoka, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN
2007 Aye Aye Thant, daughter of U Thant, UN Secretary-General
2008 Anwaral Chowdhury, Ambassador, Bangladesh
2009 Pete Seeger, legendary folk musician and environmentalist
2010 Children, including the Tarumi Violinists, surrounded by the children and grandchildren of Earth Day Founders and early supporters
2011 Solange Muller, daughter of the late Dr. Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations, and renowned peace educator
Aye Aye Thant, daughter of U Thant, UN Secretary-General
Naima Chikhi, UNESCO Representative
2012 Ambassador Anwaral Chowdhury, Bangladesh, Senior Special Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly
2013 Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
2014 Helen Garland, Chairperson Earth Society Foundation and children of the Tarumi Violinists
2015 Members of the Earth Society Foundation in New York
2016 Ricardo de Guimaraes Pinto, UNESCO New York Liaison Officer



In 1994, a special ceremony marked the fortieth anniversary of the Japanese Peace Bell. During the occasion, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali reiterated that

"Whenever it has sounded, this Japanese Peace Bell has sent a clear message. The message is addressed to all humanity. Peace is precious. It is not enough to yearn for peace. Peace requires work -- long, hard, difficult work."

In print

A stamp series of the Japanese Peace Bell, designed by Ole Hamann of Denmark, was issued in 1970 as part of the United Nations Postal Service's Art at the United Nations series. The stamps were printed by the Government Printing Bureau of Tokyo.

Other Japanese Peace Bells

More than twenty Peace Bell copies were donated by the Japanese World Peace Bells Association around the world:

See also


  1. "World Peace Bells". World Peace Bell Association. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  2. "A World Peace Bell for Christchurch, New Zealand" (PDF). resources.ccc.govt.nz. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  3. Margaret Bell Thomson. New Zealand - Country Of Peace. Xlibris Corporation. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-4797-1263-2.
  4. "International Day of Peace celebrated with Peace Bell ceremony in Ankara". United Nations Newsletter, Turkey. United Nations. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  5. Wallach, Ruth. "The World Peace Bell". Public Art in Los Angeles. USC Libraries. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  6. "Earth Society Foundation - Peace Bell Honorees". earthsocietyfoundation.com. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
  7. "Earth Society Foundation - SourceWatch". www.sourcewatch.org. Retrieved 2019-11-09.

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