SGI-Russia Commemorates Anniversary of SGI President's Visit
On September 8, 2007, SGI-Russia held a general meeting in Moscow to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's first visit to the former Soviet Union in 1974. Over 80 SGI-Russia members attended, including those who had traveled long distances from St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Voronezh. Representatives gave a presentation on second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's historic declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons made before thousands of youth on September 8, 1957. SGI-Europe Vice Women's Division Leader Suzanne Pritchard and SGI-Europe Vice Chair Yoshio Nakamura, attending as guests, shared their felicitations. The participants reaffirmed their pledge to become exemplary citizens who contribute to their society.
Mr. Ikeda first set foot in Russia (then USSR) in 1974 during the Cold War at a time when the Japanese held great hostility toward the USSR. His detractors showered him with a storm of criticism that centered on the question: Why would a leader of a Buddhist organization visit a country whose defining ideology rejected religion and discouraged religious belief? Mr. Ikeda's response was at once simple and reflective of his fundamental approach to diplomacy: "I am going to the Soviet Union because there are people there." During his ten-day stay, he endeavored to blaze a new path of Russo-Japanese understanding as described in recent installments of the serialized novel The New Human Revolution, published in the Seikyo Shimbun. Since then, Mr. Ikeda has visited Russia five more times. He has held dialogues and exchanged views with leaders from various sectors including former Soviet leaders Premier Alexei Kosygin and President Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as promoting cultural and educational exchanges.
[Adapted from an article in the September 22, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]