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Hiroshima for Global Peace

The Bell of Peace as a symbol of peace that connects Hiroshima with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

 The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, features a temple bell usually seen in Japanese temples (also known as a bonsho) on display. In fact, it was this bell that had marked the start of a period of lasting cultural exchange involving former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Konu, a small town in Miyoshi City in northern Hiroshima Prefecture. This exchange has lasted over 30 years.

 Born in 1924 and currently aged 97 (as of 2021), Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States. During his tenure as President from January 1977 to January 1981, he was instrumental in maintaining the national security of many countries, including mediating peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, two countries that had been involved in a years-long conflict. Over the following decades, he continued to engage in the peaceful resolution of international conflicts and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his contributions to economic and social development as well as for his role in expanding democracy and human rights. 

Inoue Futoshi of the Jimmy Carter Civic Center

 The abovementioned Carter Center was established by President Carter based on his belief that everyone on earth must strive to live in peace. On display at the Center is a temple bell that was originally located at Shoganji Temple in Hichi, Konu.  
 “This bell had been initially offered to the Japanese army during World War II as a source of metal for artillery shells. However, the bell was not converted into ammunition by the end of the war, and it was transported from Japan to England and finally to the United States, although the circumstances behind this remain unclear. After that, the bell was presented by a group of Japanese Americans to President Carter, who was already engaged in peace operations at the time. This bell became a symbol of peace and was given the name “Bell of Hiroshima,” and President Carter decided to trace the roots of the bell (which is engraved with the characters “Shoganji”) by making his first visit to Konu in 1990,” explained Inoue Futoshi of the Jimmy Carter Civic Center, which opened in Konu on the occasion of President Carter’s visit to the town.

 “This marked the beginning of an exchange program in which junior high school students from Konu and the cities of Atlanta and Americus in Georgia visit each other’s hometowns and participate in homestays. I believe it is very important for us to learn about different cultures and understand one another as part of our peace efforts. When the Civic Center was first completed, President Carter visited us for the second time. In fact, he has always visited us whenever the children from Konu are here, although this was not possible in the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The children have learned a lot through their valuable experiences here.”
 “Carter Peanuts” have become a local specialty of Konu as their production flourished after peanuts were delivered to Konu as a token of friendship in view of the fact that President Carter was born to a family of peanut farmers.

 The Jimmy Carter Civic Center is equipped with a planetarium, library, multipurpose hall, the Konu Peace Memorial Study Hall, and an exhibition hall that pays tribute to the achievements of President Carter. The Civic Center has been extensively utilized as a center for the lifelong learning of town residents while promoting the values of peace and human rights. 

 The following inscription can be found on the Bell of Friendship Plaque installed outside.

October 21, 1990

It is the responsibility of each individual to work on behalf of peace and mutual understanding. The Shoganji Temple bell, originally from Konu Township, now resides permanently at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The plaque here and the bell in Atlanta will be permanent reminders to each of us to strive constantly for peace among the human family.

Jimmy Carter
39th President of the United States
Jimmy Carter Civic Center

Phone: 0847‐67‐3532
Address: 10940 Hongo, Konu-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Hiroshima
Operating hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Closed on: Mondays, December 29th to January 3rd

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