Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
by Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International
The year 2007 marks fifty years since the second president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda, made an historic declaration condemning nuclear weapons as “an absolute evil” and calling for their prohibition, stating he wished to rip out the claws that are hidden in their very depths.
His insight was rooted in the universal plane of human life, transcending differences of ideology and social system. It laid bare the essence of these apocalyptic weapons whose destructiveness could put an end to human civilization and even to humankind’s continued existence as a species.
Peace Proposal 2005
Toward a New Era of Dialogue: Humanism Explored by Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International In his 2005 peace proposal, SGI President Ikeda calls for education for global citizenship; reforming and strengthening the UN; confidence and peace building in the Asia-Pacific Region; and nuclear disarmament. Today, when the threat of nuclear proliferation continues to preoccupy the international community amid revelations about the black market in nuclear weapons technology and concerns surrounding the ultimate objectives of the nuclear development programs of North Korea and Iran, the significance, farsightedness and gravity of Toda’s declaration are strikingly apparent.
Much of the responsibility for the current situation must be laid at the feet of the states already possessing nuclear weapons. Any effective movement toward nuclear disarmament must be predicated on the sincere efforts of the existing nuclear-weapon states to disarm.
We need a fundamental reconfiguration of our worldview if we are to move away from nuclear proliferation and toward disarmament. The crucial element is to ensure that we are rooted firmly in a consciousness of the unity of the human family. When our thinking is reconfigured around a sense of human solidarity, even the most implacable difficulties will not cause us to condone the use of force. Without this kind of shift, it will be difficult to extract ourselves from the quagmire logic of deterrence, which is rooted in mistrust, suspicion and fear.
At the heart of the nuclear issue is a potential for destructiveness inherent in human life. It is a function of this destructiveness to shred our sense of human solidarity, sowing the seeds of mistrust and suspicion, conflict and hatred. Buddhism characterizes this as the life-state or “world” of anger, which, when it becomes undirected and unrestrained, is a rogue and renegade force, disrupting and destroying all in its path.
The inner distortions twisting the heart of someone in this state prevent them from seeing things in their true aspect or making correct judgments. Everything appears as a means to the fulfillment of egotistical desires and impulses. It is this state of mind that would countenance the use of nuclear weapons.
When Toda made his declaration against nuclear weapons, he had in mind the struggle to prevent the inner forces of anger from going on an unrestrained rampage. He was calling for the steady and painstaking work of correctly repositioning and reconfiguring the function of anger in an inner world where wisdom and harmony prevail.
This same world of anger is at the heart of many of the issues confronting contemporary civilization, with its high degree of capitalist and technological development. It is necessary to reposition economic values within the various hierarchies of values integral to the processes of life, to train and tame the capitalist system. The key to this is a human awakening, a process of individuals and humanity reclaiming their rightful place.
related article Treasuring Diversity Daisaku Ikeda has written, "The Buddha's teaching begins with the recognition of human diversity.... The humanism of the Lotus Sutra comes down to the tenet of treasuring the individual." New structures are needed for members of the international community to identify a shared sense of purpose and work in concert to fulfill their responsibilities toward nonproliferation and disarmament. There needs to be a recasting—on the basis of a new conceptual outlook—of the obligations set out under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
All nations, regardless of whether or not they possess nuclear weapons, must work as equals to achieve the NPT’s stated aim, “the security of peoples,” without a reliance on nuclear weapons. The ultimate goal must be to ban nuclear weapons through a treaty similar to those outlawing chemical and biological weapons.
This shared sense of purpose clarifies the respective responsibilities for the achievement of nuclear-free security: for the nuclear-weapon states to actively pursue nuclear disarmament, and for the non-nuclear-weapon states to work together to prevent nuclear proliferation. To facilitate this, I advocate the early convening of a world summit or a Special Session of the UN General Assembly to initiate debate and seek consensus toward the goal of global nuclear-free security.
I appeal to the U.S. and Russia to reduce their strategic missile stockpiles to a few hundred warheads, and conclude a new bilateral treaty in which they commit to the complete elimination of these stockpiles, thus positioning themselves as leaders of the global effort toward nuclear disarmament. I propose the formation within the UN of an international nuclear disarmament agency to coordinate negotiations for a nuclear disarmament treaty.
We must work to ensure that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) enter into force at the earliest possible stage, or at least to find ways to move it toward full operation such as bringing it into force provisionally. We also need a stronger institutional framework to prevent the diversion of programs for the peaceful use of atomic energy into the development of nuclear weapons.
I also call for debate on “no first use” pledges and further formalization of negative security assurances. Ultimately, the only way to resolve the problem surrounding the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran is for Northeast Asia and the Middle East to become Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.
I urge that a broad-based panel be formed to discuss the demilitarization of space, and I repeat my call for the strengthening of international frameworks regulating the arms trade toward the larger goal of the deinstitutionalization of war.
Peace Proposal 2004
Inner Transformation: Creating a Global Groundswell for Peace by Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International In his 2004 peace proposal, SGI President Ikeda discusses topics such as inner transformation; strengthening the UN; nuclear abolition; and expanding and enhancing human security. I propose that the decade starting from 2008 be designated as a decade for building Sino-Japanese friendship for the twenty-first century, with different areas of cooperation given particular focus on an annual basis. The Japan-China Year of Culture and Sports, for example, could be followed by a year for energy cooperation, a year for environmental protection, etc.
Additionally, as part of this decade, I would like to suggest an exchange program between the diplomats of the two countries. Establishing such programs with countries such as China and Korea would surely strengthen the foundations for a future East Asian Union.
Toward the goal of the formation of an East Asian Union, I believe pilot programs focused on specific concerns can build the structures of cooperation in a way that enhances enthusiasm and interest in each country. One such area would be the establishment of an East Asian environment and development organization, bringing together the regional initiatives developed to date. I would also like to propose the establishment of an East Asian equivalent of the College of Europe, to develop a pool of talent essential to any future regional community.
When we consider the prospects for global peace, nothing is more crucial than the awakened solidarity of the world’s people, for only this can give rise to an irresistible current toward the renunciation of war. My own efforts over the decades, meeting people of all stations and walks of life, engaging in dialogue and promoting the ideals of humanistic education and exchange, have all been predicated on this belief in the solidarity of the human family.
The goal of the SGI’s movement is to empower the world’s citizens to rid this Earth of needless suffering while realizing lives of peace and happiness. We will continue to work alongside people of like mind in building a global culture of peace in the twenty-first century. We are committed to the vision of a “dialogical civilization”—fostering mutual understanding through dialogue and enabling the human dignity of all to shine.