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On September 7, against a backdrop of the current rise of conflict and violence in the international arena, an SGI Youth Conference for Peace was held at the International Conference Center Hiroshima, Japan. The conference, which focused on ways forward in the challenge to abolish nuclear weapons, brought Japanese Soka Gakkai youth together with some 24 SGI youth representatives from 15 countries including the U.S., the UK and India.
Guest speaker Masaaki Tanabe, a survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima in which he lost both his parents and younger brother, shared the horrors he witnessed as a result of the bombing including seeing a mother singing lullabies while clinging to the charred and lifeless body of her baby. A documentary filmmaker by trade, Mr. Tanabe is presently preparing a 3D film titled “Ground Zero: Documents of Hiroshima” depicting the city before it was bombed that will be screened at the UN headquarters in April 2015.
At the conference, renewing their determination to establish a world free of nuclear weapons, the youth adopted a peace declaration which, included three main pledges as follows: (1) not to tolerate the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; (2) to work towards the convening of a World Youth Summit for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the earliest opportunity; and (3) to confront the mindset that justifies nuclear weapons and the sense of powerlessness that hinders progress towards their abolition, and to actively engage in dialogue for peace.
The SGI youth representatives also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and, in remembrance of the victims of the atomic bombings, laid a wreath in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
On the afternoon of the same day, an SGI Youth Peace Festival was held at the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Memorial Hall, where the 24 SGI youth representatives joined some 3,000 local Soka Gakkai members.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message to the peace festival participants in which he emphasized that sincere dialogue based on respect for the dignity of life is the only road to peace.
related article Discussion Meetings Small group discussion meetings have been the foundation of the Soka Gakkai since the 1930s. Today, SGI discussion meetings are held in all corners of the globe, usually on a monthly basis. At the festival, Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG)’s Young Women’s Student Division Leader Gunjan Mathur shared how her Buddhist practice has enabled her to establish more harmonious relationships with her family and also to return to university to complete her studies.
The peace festival participants expressed their resolve to increase their efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons in the lead up to 2015, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were also musical and choral performances.
[Adapted from articles in the September 6, 7, 8 and 10, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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