Section one of ten of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2017 peace proposal, “The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering In a New Era of Hope.”

January 26, 2017

Josei Toda calling for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, Yokohama, Japan, September 1957Josei Toda calling for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, Yokohama, Japan, September 1957 [© Seikyo Shimbun]

Sixty years have passed since my mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda (1900–58), issued his declaration calling for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons.

Toda fought alongside founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) for the cause of peace and humanity. At the core of his thinking was a vision of global citizenship rooted in the philosophy of respect for life’s inherent dignity as taught in Buddhism.

This is the conviction that no one, wherever they may have been born or whatever group they belong to, should be subjected to discrimination, exploited or have their interests sacrificed for the benefit of others. This is a way of thinking that resonates strongly with the United Nations’ appeal to the international community to create a world in which “no one will be left behind.” [1]

The same strongly felt sentiment impelled Toda to denounce nuclear weapons as an absolute evil, a fundamental threat to the right of the world’s people to live, and to call for a broad-based popular movement for their prohibition. On September 8, 1957, under the clear blue skies that follow after a typhoon has passed, he addressed some 50,000 young people who had gathered at the Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama: “I hope that, as my disciples, you will inherit the declaration I am about to make today and, to the best of your ability, spread its intent throughout the world.” [2] Even to this day, the sound of his voice echoes within me.

Since then, Soka Gakkai members in Japan and around the world have worked with like-minded individuals and organizations to develop activities seeking the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons.

Last December, against a backdrop of growing recognition within international society of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution calling for the start of negotiations toward a treaty for their prohibition. The first negotiating conference is slated to be held at UN Headquarters in New York in March, and it is crucial that this succeed in opening a path to a world free from nuclear weapons.

In addition to nuclear weapons, our world today is confronted by numerous grave challenges including a seemingly unending succession of armed conflicts and the sufferings of the rapidly growing refugee population. I am not, however, pessimistic about humanity’s future. My reason is the faith I place in our world’s young people, each of whom embodies hope and the possibility of a better future.

This is not to deny the fact that millions of young people live in severely challenging conditions of poverty and inequality, as evidenced by the fact that children and youth top the list of groups requiring special attention according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were launched last year.

related article Learn, Reflect, Empower: SGI and Education for Sustainable Development Learn, Reflect, Empower: SGI and Education for Sustainable Development by  Nobuyuki Asai,  Japan The SGI has developed wide-ranging activities to promote environmental protection and sustainable development. Education and awareness-raising are the main focus. But we must also remember the potential of youth, highlighted for example in Security Council Resolution 2250, which stressed the necessary role of youth in peacebuilding.

In Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly Resolution that sets out the SDGs, young people are identified as “critical agents of change,” [3] a conviction I share wholeheartedly. Young people and their energetic engagement represent the solution to the global challenges we face; they hold the key to achieving the goals set by the UN toward 2030.

In this proposal, I would like to put a special focus on the role of youth as I offer thoughts on how to build the kind of peaceful, just and inclusive societies envisaged in the SDGs.

Notes

1. UN General Assembly, “Transforming Our World,” 1.
2. Toda, “Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.”
3. UN General Assembly, “Transforming Our World,” 12.

previous section     return to index     next section

─── other articles ───

our story

page top