International Conference of Museums for Peace held in Kyoto and Hiroshima

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

The 6th International Conference of Museums for Peace, a forum where experts from both Japan and abroad exchange views on the roles of “peace museums,” opened at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto on October 6. Roughly 160 people, including museum personnel and scholars from 31 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United States have gathered for the conference, which will last until October 10.

On the first day, Peter van den Dungen, honorary visiting lecturer of peace studies at Bradford University in the United Kingdom, and Hiromu Nonaka, former chief cabinet secretary of Japan, delivered speeches to an audience of about 600 people that also included students and local residents.

Professor van den Dungen, who was the first to suggest holding an international conference of peace museums in 1992, emphasized, “The number of peace museums in the world has been increasing steadily. These museums have a significant role to play in calling for disarmament and conflict resolution through non-violent means.” He also pointed up the importance of strengthening the international network among peace museums. Mr. Nonaka, while referring to his own experiences of visiting China on five occasions, remarked, “It is important to hold exhibitions which inspire young people to think about peace on a global scale.”

The conference will also feature lectures and working sessions exploring such themes as “Peace Museums as Spaces for Overcoming the Past and Promoting Reconciliation” at Ritsumeikan University and Kyoto University of Art and Design. On October 10, the conference will shift to Hiroshima where Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba will address the participants and an A-bomb survivor will share his experience at Peace Memorial Museum. There will also be a symposium entitled “What can we do for nuclear abolition?” All events in Hiroshima are free of charge.

(Originally published on October 7, 2008)