SGI-Europe Youth Engage in Dialogue to Promote Nuclear Disarmament and a Culture of Peace
"As a pacifist and a Buddhist, to continue raising awareness of the nuclear threat is my mission, responsibility and duty, as well as an important prerogative." SGI President Daisaku Ikeda made this declaration in May 1987 at the opening of the "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World" exhibition in Moscow. This was in response to his mentor and second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's historic declaration for the abolition of nuclear weapons on September 8, 1957, and his urgent call for youth to succeed to this legacy and protect individuals' inviolable right to life.
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Mr. Toda's antinuclear declaration in September 2007, the SGI-Europe youth launched in January 2006 a 100,000 dialogue campaign to convey Mr. Toda's ideals throughout Europe and create a current for peace. With the UK, France and Russia among the five nuclear weapons states recognized under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the SGI-Europe youth feel it is their mission and responsibility to respond to Mr. Ikeda who entrusted this important task to the young people of SGI. The SGI-Europe youth will continue their dialogue campaign until March 16, 2008, when an SGI-Europe youth convention is slated for Milan, Italy, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of March 16, 1958, when 6,000 Soka Gakkai youth met with President Toda and vowed to continue working for peace, prosperity and people's happiness based on Nichiren's philosophy of humanism. The SGI-Europe Youth Summit has set a goal of 4,000 representatives from 28 countries at the commemorative event next spring.
With the creation of the European Union (EU) in the once divided continent, the concept of "The United States of Europe" envisaged by Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and inspired by Immanuel Kant and Victor Hugo is coming closer to realization. In this context, members of SGI-Europe have been carrying out dialogue to strengthen solidarity and a sense of fellowship based on people's cherished desire for peace which transcends any difference in culture, ethnicity or country.
As a kick-off toward the Milan gathering, from July 21-25,170 SGI-European youth representatives from 27 countries attended a summer course, titled "Advancing Toward Victory with the Heart of a Lion King," at the SGI-European Center in Trets, southern France. At that event, a young man from Portugal shared how SGI-Portugal members have been engaging in a groundswell of dialogue with friends. Also, from August 3-6, 150 student representatives from 18 countries, including those from the former Eastern block, attended an SGI-Europe Student Division summer course in Trets. Mr. Ikeda sent a message of encouragement expressing his wholehearted expectations for the young people's development and growth.
On September 8, 2007, around 100 SGI members and their guests gathered at SGI Denmark's Nordic Culture Center for a forum on the abolition of nuclear weapons with guest speaker John Avery, chair of the Danish Committee of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, who spoke about the threat nuclear weapons pose in today's world. In the second week of September representatives from 21 European countries joined youth from 34 other countries and territories at the SGI Youth Training Course in Japan where they signed a joint proclamation vowing to work for disarmament and engage in dialogue with people of other worldviews and religious traditions.
SGI-Europe Youth Chair Yasunori Hirayama expressed his personal determination to promote a philosophy of humanism and create a culture of peace throughout Europe.
[Adapted from an article in the September 19, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan, and a report from the SGI-Europe Youth Summit]