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On August 2–3, some 50 Soka Gakkai youth representatives from Okinawa, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo held their 23rd annual Youth Peace Summit at the Soka Gakkai Nagasaki Peace Center.
At the summit, the youth shared reports on activities in their respective areas organized under the SOKA Global Action peace campaign that was launched in January 2014. Reports included activities such as 40 hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) lectures that aim to ensure the voices of hibakusha are passed onto the younger generation toward the abolition of nuclear weapons, as well as activities supporting the reconstruction of the Tohoku region following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and exchanges strengthening friendship between the youth of Japan and its neighboring countries. Summit participants also planned a schedule of activities in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Youth Peace Conference Chair Nobuyuki Asai stated, “Conscious of the horrific consequences of violent conflict around the world, we feel keenly our responsibility to increase grassroots momentum toward a lasting peace. Nuclear weapons are by far the most destructive of all humanity’s tools of war, at the peak of the culture of violence.”
Following the summit, on August 3, Tatsujiro Suzuki, a council member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, gave a lecture on the mission and role of scientists in ridding the world of nuclear weapons that was attended by some 700 people. Mr. Suzuki is also vice director and professor at Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA).
On the same day, Soka Gakkai youth in Hiroshima gathered for peace forums at two locations. At each venue representatives of the Soka Gakkai Chugoku Student Peace Committee announced the results of its 19th annual survey on attitudes to peace and nuclear weapons carried out from June 1 to July 13 among 1,168 students in the region. The survey revealed that some 75 percent of respondents felt that it was important for youth from around the world to visit the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Overall it was found that awareness of the bombings was decreasing, which brought into sharp focus the importance of the speeches given by hibakusha at each venue.
related article Faith Communities Unite Against Nuclear Weapons at ICAN Civil Society Forum; Issue Joint Statement Prior to the holding of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons from December 8-9 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) held a Civil Society Forum (CSF) from December 6-7 at the Aula der Wissenchaften. The CSF was attended by more than 600 people from 70 countries representing 100 organizations. On August 6, at the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Hall, and on August 9, at Soka Gakkai Nagasaki Peace Center, Soka Gakkai members held prayer meetings marking the 69th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings. Prayers were offered in memory of victims of the bombings, for all victims of war and for world peace.
Following the meeting in Hiroshima, the Soka Gakkai Women’s Peace Committee held their 11th annual hibakusha lecture. Guest speaker was Hiroe Sato, general director of HPS International Volunteers. She shared her experience of living through the bombing, the horrific sights she witnessed and the consequences of radiation exposure. She was 7 years old at the time of the bombing. HPS stands for Hiroshima Peace Station and expresses the wish that Hiroshima can act as a place of departure from which world peace begins.
[Adapted from reports from the SGI Office of Public Information and the August 4, 6, 7 and 10, 2014, issues of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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