On Thursday 24 November King Letsie III of Lesotho accepted a peace stone from Hiroshima-based non-profit group Stone for Peace Association of Hiroshima during a presentation ceremony in Tokyo.
King Letsie II and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa are currently undertaking their first official visit to Japan. Their nine-day visit marks the 45th anniversary of bilateral relations between Lesotho and Japan.
During the presentation of the peace stone, King Letsie spoke of what the gift meant to Lesotho, 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.’
Engraved with an image of the Buddhist goddess of mercy the peace stone survived the city’s 1945 atomic bombing and was one of the paving stones from the Hiroshima streetcar tracks located just 200 meters from ground zero of the bomb’s strike. It is approximately 50 square centimetres and weighs 50kg, and Lesotho is the 110th country to receive such a stone since the donation campaign was started by the Peace Association of Hiroshima in 1991.
The Peace Association of Hiroshima’s principal, Michio Umemoto, stated that it was his hope that the stone, ‘as an undying witness of the tragedy will keep telling the people in those nations how dear harmony, love and peace are.’
The day after receiving the peace stone Kind Letsie met with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. He also travelled with Queen Masenate to Fukushima Prefecture on Saturday 26 November to witness the healing that has taken place since 2011 when the area faced the combined destructive forces of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.