2007 SGI Youth Autumn Training Session in Tokyo
From September 5-9, 2007, 240 SGI youth leaders from 55 countries converged in Tokyo for the 20th annual leadership training course. The SGI youth participated in various sessions, including the monthly leaders' meeting for September at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, Tokyo, on September 6.
In a message for the opening session held at the Soka International Friendship Hall in Shibuya Ward on September 5, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda welcomed the youth and thanked them for traveling such long distances. He stated that the participants' efforts to develop their lives and become active citizens in their respective societies and communities would contribute toward the SGI gaining society's trust as well as advancing world peace. He affirmed that each personal victory translates as victory for the SGI as a whole. Navin Manandhar, newly-appointed national youth leader of Nepal, and Juliet Tembo, a young women's chapter leader in Zambia, reported on their activities in their respective countries. SGI General Director Yoshitaka Ohba encouraged the SGI youth to take exemplary leadership in the next phase of the SGI's development, with the writings of Nichiren and the mentor-disciple relationship shared by the first three Soka Gakkai presidents as their guideposts.
On September 7, Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada spoke about Mr. Toda's ardent desire to abolish nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction from the face of the earth for the sake of humanity's happiness. This passion was shared by Mr. Ikeda, who dedicated his life to spreading and realizing his mentor's ideals. Mr. Harada encouraged everyone to carry on this legacy and perpetuate Mr. Ikeda's will with the same spirit. On the same day, Soka Gakkai Study Department Chief Masaaki Morinaka lectured on "The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life," one of Nichiren's major writings.
On September 8, the 240 SGI youth met with their Japanese counterparts for a youth peace conference at the Soka Gakkai Kanagawa Culture Center, Yokohama, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mr. Toda's declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons in a speech before thousands of youth who had gathered at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama on September 8, 1957, just months before his death. During the conference, the SGI youth unanimously adopted the "SGI Youth Declaration for World Peace," which includes a vow to work for nuclear and conventional disarmament and to create a culture of peace. [Read more about the conference]
On the same evening, the training course participants attended exchange meetings with local members at 28 venues throughout Kanagawa Prefecture. New Zealand and Australia youth attended a meeting at the Kohoku Culture Center in Kohoku Ward, Yokohama City. Emma Willis, a theater director working toward a Ph.D. in theater research on scholarship in New Zealand, shared how she was able to transform initial defeat into a catalyst for growth through her Buddhist practice and win funding for a 2008 theater project that had initially received terrible reviews. She was recently featured in a New Zealand women's magazine in an article titled, "Rising Star," as an example of a young woman succeeding in her chosen field. Liz Sze Yeo of Malaysia, who had crossed to Australia for her studies, talked about overcoming financial difficulties and lack of confidence to gain a position in a prestigious biomedical research laboratory, receive a permanent visa and win a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical research. Both Ms. Willis and Ms. Sze shared their resolve to further develop their capabilities and contribute to society in their given fields, based on their practice of Nichiren Buddhism.
The closing session was held at the Shinano Culture Center in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on September 9. Following a presentation of certificates, SGI-Ecuador Vice Young Women's Leader Nadia Enith Guerrero Vargas and Taiwan Soka Gakkai Young Men's Leader Chen Yao gave their impression of the youth training course and shared their goals for future activities. The Fuji Junior High School Chorus sang a medley of Soka Gakkai songs in Spanish, English, Hindi and Japanese to an enthusiastic standing ovation by the SGI youth.
[Adapted from articles in the September 6, 8, 9 and 11, 2007 issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]