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Back to listMar 16, 2011

Relief Efforts Continue in Japan, SGI Members Hold Prayer Meetings, SGI President's March 16 Message

110315chiba_asahi.jpgMembers in Asahi City, Chiba Prefecture, sruvey the tsunami damage (March 15)

March 16 is a symbolic day for Soka Gakkai and SGI members, as it commemorates Kosen-rufu Day--a day when individuals deepen their vow to work for the sake of world peace and the happiness and well-being of all humanity.

In this spirit, SGI members throughout the world are currently holding special prayer meetings for the speedy and complete recovery of all those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake that hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11.

On March 16, in response to the continuing relief efforts in Japan, and to commemorate Kosen-rufu Day, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message to Soka Gakkai and SGI members around the world which was carried in the Soka Gakkai's organ newspaper, the Seikyo Shimbun. In it, Mr. Ikeda quoted Nichiren's words that "even if we should meet with disasters and calamities, they cannot destroy our hearts." He stressed that nothing can destroy the "treasures of the heart," and encouraged everyone to maintain hope. He sent his deepest condolences to the victims and families of those affected by the disaster and also thanked all those aiding in relief efforts:

I wish to deeply thank those of you who are selflessly devoting yourselves to the rescue and relief efforts in the stricken areas. I also truly appreciate those of you who are supporting your communities as solid and reliable pillars during this difficult time. [see full text here]

110315miyagi_tagajo.jpgMembers housed at the Tagajo City Civic Hall (March 15)

Relief efforts continue six days after the earthquake. Aware that people in the affected regions are suffering from shortages of food, water and fuel, as well as a lack of information and freezing weather conditions, Soka Gakkai leaders are making their utmost efforts to visit the various Soka Gakkai centers being used as shelters to encourage people, in an effort to help restore hope.

In Tagajo City near Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, a fire from the petroleum gas plant facing the port has been burning for several days. Approximately 100 people are still unaccounted for in this area. Ms. Shizue Chida, regional women's leader of Soka Gakkai in Tohoku, visited the Soka Gakkai Tagajo Culture Center to encourage the people taking shelter there.

At the Tagajo Culture Center, Ms. Mitsuko Iwabuchi, one of the local Soka Gakkai women's members, has supported other victims despite not being able to locate her own mother.

Another member, Ms. Toki Suzuki, showed a list of her friends' names which she saved when she escaped from the earthquake. She is offering heartfelt prayers for the safety of each one of them.   

110316miyagi_sendai_discussion_mtg.jpgThe Shichigo district discussion meeting at the Wakabayashi Peace Center in Sendai City (March 16)

Arahama, in the coastal area of Sendai City, was heavily struck by tsunamis and suffered severe destruction. The members of Shichigo District, which includes the Arahama area, have been working hard as volunteers, despite being affected themselves too. The members of the district gathered at the Soka Gakkai Wakabayashi Peace Center, where they have been taking shelter, and held a discussion meeting commemorating March 16, Kosen-rufu Day.

Participants shared their determinations, saying "Through this Buddhism, we have learned the spirit of compassion to help others no matter how hard the situation may be," and "Now is the time for us all to stand up courageously and respond to the encouragement we have received from SGI President Ikeda and SGI members around the world."

110315chida_suzuki_iwabuchijpgMs. Iwabuchi (left) and Ms. Suzuki (center) with Ms. Chida, the Tohoku region women's division leader (March 15)

Coastal areas of the central Kanto area which includes Tokyo was also struck by tsunamis. Some 500 houses were completely or partially destroyed in Asahi City in Chiba Prefecture to the east of Tokyo. The Soka Gakkai Asahi Culture Center has been opened as a shelter for local people. Local youth members have also been working as volunteers to support those in the affected area. Mr. Katsuhiko Soma, the leader of Chiba Region 1 and Mr. Hiroaki Kashiwagi, Ikeda region leader visited places damaged by the tsunami to offer encouragement to local Soka Gakkai members and their families.

Ms. Taeko Sano, women's division chapter leader of Iioka chapter, in the area which suffered the worst damage, says "We could feel all your encouragement. With unshakeable faith, we will never be defeated."

[Adapted from an article in the March 17, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]