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Back to listJun 11, 2007

Mikhail Gorbachev Reminisces on His Life and Perestroika

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Mr. Gorbachev (left) accompanied by Mr. Ikeda (center) meets Russian exchange students studying at Soka University

On June 11, 2007, former Soviet Union leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mikhail Gorbachev visited Soka University, in Hachioji, Japan, and spoke on "Perestroika and My Life" to over 10,000 students from Soka University, Soka Women's College and Soka Junior and Senior High Schools. Mr. Gorbachev emphasized the importance of dialogue among citizens toward the resolution of mounting global challenges and expressed his expectations of youth to usher in a new era of Russo-Japanese exchange and cooperation. This was the second lecture that the former USSR leader delivered at Soka University; the first was in 1993. In appreciation, Soka University presented Mr. Gorbachev with its Award of Education and Culture.

Mr. Gorbachev, 76, is founding president of the Gorbachev Foundation, an international nongovernmental foundation for socioeconomic and political studies, as well as founding chair of Green Cross International, an organization dedicated to global environmental protection.

Following his lecture, Mr. Gorbachev, accompanied by daughter Irina Virganskaya, who serves as Gorbachev Foundation vice president, her husband Andrey Trukhachev and foundation consultant Vladimir Polyakov, met with Soka University founder Daisaku Ikeda at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall near the Hachioji campus. This was their ninth meeting. With a hearty welcome, Mr. Ikeda thanked Mr. Gorbachev for lecturing to the students. The two reminisced about their meeting in April 1993, when Mr. Gorbachev was in Tokyo to receive an honorary doctorate from Soka University. Mr. Ikeda fondly recalled his meeting with the late Mrs. Raisa Gorbachev who had accompanied her husband on that trip, remarking on her refined character and vibrant personality. Thanking Mr. Ikeda for his kind remembrances of Raisa, Mr. Gorbachev mentioned that he had earlier visited the cherry tree that Mr. Ikeda had planted and dedicated to the Gorbachevs on the university campus, which he said brought back warm memories of his wife.

Mr. Gorbachev presented Mr. Ikeda with a silver medal from the Gorbachev Foundation in recognition of his contributions to promoting peace, mutual understanding, education, culture, environmental protection, and Russo-Japanese cultural exchange. He said the award commemorates the 20th anniversary of perestroika, as well as celebrates the SGI leader's upcoming 80th birthday on January 2, 2008. Mr. Ikeda expressed his deep gratitude for the honor and vowed to work even harder for peace.

During their discussions, Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Ikeda agreed to start their second dialogue series, as proposed by Mr. Gorbachev in a previous meeting. Moral Lessons of the 20th Century, their first dialogue series, has been published in Japanese, Russian, German, Italian and French, to date.

[Adapted from an article in the June 12, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]