Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
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At the start of January, Soka Gakkai youth in Japan launched a new peace campaign titled "SOKA Global Action." The campaign has three key aims: (1) to contribute to building a culture of peace and work together with SGI youth around the world toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, (2) to promote goodwill and build ties of friendship through cultural exchanges within Asia, and (3) to assist and support reconstruction efforts following the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster which devastated parts of the Tohoku region.
On January 17--the 19th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake--the first event of the campaign, the Hyogo Restoration Youth Speech Conference took place at the Soka Gakkai Kansai International Culture Center in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. Speakers at the conference, subtitled "Tohoku and Kansai's Bonds of Hope," included Soka Gakkai youth members Ryouhei Sadamoto, whose experience as a 10-year old in the 1995 Kobe earthquake inspired him to become an emergency rescue worker, and Emi Okada, a Kobe hairdresser, who travelled to Tohoku to style the hair of earthquake victims there. A Tohoku youth member also gave a presentation on reconstruction and restoration efforts in the region.
On the weekend of January 25 and 26, in line with the first aim of the SOKA Global Action campaign, to work toward nuclear abolition, youth also invited A-bomb survivors including Kikue Shiota and Emiko Okada to speak at "Vow for Peace Forums" in Saitama, Chiba, Kyoto and Hiroshima.
On January 26, the Tohoku Restoration Youth Speech Conference was held at the Iwaki General Health and Welfare Center in Fukushima Prefecture. Some 150 Soka Gakkai members and 100 guests including Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu attended the event. Three Soka Gakkai youth shared their struggles and achievements since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. related article Anti-nuclear Weapons Exhibition: "Toward a World Free From Nuclear Weapons: From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace" The SGI exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" commemorates the 50th anniversary of Soka Gakkai Second President Josei Toda's Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (made on September 8, 1957).
Akira Kojima from Iwaki City described how he had to move to Tokyo following the earthquake and tsunami. However, he found it hard to adjust and his health deteriorated. He then had to quit the job he was given in Tokyo and return to Iwaki. He was warmly encouraged not to give up hope by local Soka Gakkai members, and last May, he was able to find a better job in Iwaki City.
SOKA Global Action activities will continue throughout 2014.
[Adapted from articles in the January 18 and 28, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun and the SGI Office of Public Information]
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by Lisa Cowan, chair of the SGI's European Youth Committee
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The Three Faiths Project--SGI-UK
by Gemma Novis, UK
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Learn, Reflect, Empower: SGI and Education for Sustainable Development
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Education: A Transformative Potential
by Maria Guajardo, Soka University, Japan