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From May 17–19, a group of 24 SGI youth leaders from India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand traveled to Kyushu, southernmost of the four main islands of Japan, for a weekend of exchange with youth members in the region. The trip was part of an SGI training course that began in Tokyo on May 15.
On May 17, the SGI representatives joined some 4,000 youth members from across Kyushu for the Asia-Kyushu SGI Youth General Meeting at the Soka Gakkai Kyushu Ikeda Auditorium in Fukuoka City. The meeting was held as part of the Soka Gakkai Japan youth-led peace campaign SOKA Global Action, one of the aims of which is promoting goodwill and building ties of friendship through cultural exchange among youth within Asia.
related article Lotus Sutra Exhibition Debuts in Malaysia On February 16, "The Lotus Sutra – A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence" exhibition created by the SGI-affiliated Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) opened for the first time in Malaysia at Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM)'s Wisma Kebudayaan culture center in Kuala Lumpur. In his message to the meeting, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda stressed the historical ties between Kyushu and Asia. He encouraged the youth members to create indestructible bonds of unity and spearhead SGI’s global movement for peace, starting by cherishing the people around them.
Soka Gakkai Thailand Vice Young Men’s Leader Saksit Wattanasuthipong spoke on behalf of the visiting youth and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet fellow SGI members from Kyushu, the point from which Mr. Ikeda embarked on his journeys to Hong Kong in 1974 and India in 1979 to encourage the first groups practicing Nichiren Buddhism in each country. He concluded by calling on participants to become protagonists of peace in Asia.
The meeting also featured musical performances by the Soka Gakkai Kyushu music corps and a Japanese taiko drum ensemble, as well as dynamic performance calligraphy which combines traditional calligraphy on a huge canvas with music.
On May 18, the SGI youth representatives traveled to four different prefectures within Kyushu, where they met with local youth members for Q&A sessions and small group discussions. They exchanged opinions on ways of achieving peace in Asia and the issue of nuclear weapons among other topics. The Singapore delegation traveled to Nagasaki where they visited the Nagasaki Peace Park and other memorial sites commemorating the August 9, 1945, atomic bombing of the city.
[Adapted from articles in the May 19 and 20, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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Soka Gakkai in America: Focused on Servant Leadership and Dialogic Teaching
by William Aiken, director of public affairs, SGI-USA