Aug 27

The Carter Center Peace Bell: JETAA Challege

Thanks to JET alumna, Jessica Cork (CIR, Hiroshima-ken, 1997-2000) for sharing this great project that she is leading as the Chair of the Japan-America Society of Georgia.

The Japan-America Society of Georgia, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta, and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Atlanta want to construct a traditional Japanese bell tower to house the Carter Center’s “Peace Bell.” The “Japan-Georgia Friendship Bell Tower” will be modeled after the bell tower at Shoganji Temple in Konu, Miyoshi City, Hiroshima Prefecture where the bell originated in Japan.

During World War II, an ordinance to collect metals was promulgated throughout Japan, and the temple bell from Shoganji Temple in Konu was supplied to the Kure Naval Arsenal. However, before the bell could be turned into bullets, the war ended. Following the war, the bell somehow ended up in England, where it resided for a time with an Englishman, James Taylor. His son, Milos Taylor, discovered the bell in 1958 while sorting through the belongings of his father in England. In 1982, Milos moved to Florida with the bell. In 1985, before returning to England, Milos put the bell up for sale. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta and the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta solicited donations to purchase the bell and presented the bell on behalf of the Japanese community to President and Mrs. Carter to commemorate the construction of The Carter Center and in appreciation for President Carter’s work promoting world peace.

When Hajime Akiyama, a member of the Japanese parliament, visited The Carter Center after the bell was donated, he discovered that the bell was inscribed with the name of Shoganji Temple. So he visited Shoganji to report that their temple bell had been donated to President Carter. Shoganji was very pleased to learn that their temple bell, which they thought had been destroyed in the war, was in fact carefully preserved at The Carter Center as the “Peace Bell,” a symbol of goodwill between Japan and the United States.

This led to President Carter visiting Hiroshima twice, establishing a sister city relationship between Konu, Hiroshima and his hometown in Georgia, and Konu constructing the Jimmy Carter Civic Center, which aims to educate Japanese citizens about peace. 

The website with the incredible story of the bell’s journey to the US and full project description is as follows.

The Japan-America Society of Georgia is trying to raise $300,000 to make this dream a reality. We would like to challenge JETAA to raise $25,000 and be recognized as one of the partner organizations (on all press releases, website, plaque etc). 

In order for JETAA members to have their donations recognized as contributions from JETAA, please click on the sponsorship link (not the donate link).

Then select register, add email address, and then select “7. Other amount.”  Put in the amount and then check off the JETAA checkbox.

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