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Buddhism

Back to listOct 22, 2011

SGI Europe Anniversary Celebrated in Italy and Denmark

SGI Europe membersSGI Europe youth members gathering in Rome

In October 1961, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda made his first visit to Europe for the purpose of encouraging the handful of practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism throughout Europe and sharing the peaceful ideals of Buddhism. On his trip, Mr. Ikeda visited Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, France, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Today, there are SGI members in 40 countries in Europe.

On October 22, 2011, some 4,000 members of SGI-Italy gathered in Rome together with 500 members from other European countries for the SGI European General Meeting celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mr. Ikeda's first visit to Europe.

In his speech to participants, Daiki Nakamoto, chair of the European Youth Committee, said "When we look at the current situation in European society, there is much hopelessness and resignation about the future of our continent and it seems like we are far away from the happiness of the people. Yet, through Presidents Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda, we have inherited the mission of removing misery from this world."

Mr. Ikeda sent a message to the meeting expressing his deepest appreciation for the efforts of the pioneer SGI members in Europe. He also shared his hope that each member would work toward strengthening unity with each other, based on the spirit of Buddhist humanism.

In CopenhagenIn Copenhagen

On October 9, some 800 SGI members from nine countries, including Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, gathered in Copenhagen for the SGI Scandinavia General Meeting, on the theme of taking responsibility for the future.

Guests included Danish educator Hans Henningsen, former principal of Denmark's Askov Folk High School, whose dialogue with Mr. Ikeda was published in 2010, as well as John Avery, chair of the Danish Pugwash Group.

In his speech, Dr. Avery highlighted second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda's 1957 Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which became the catalyst for SGI's peace activism, and the organization's efforts toward promoting nuclear disarmament.

On October 8, over 130 SGI Europe youth representatives gathered at the Scandinavia Culture Center in Copenhagen for a youth exchange meeting.  On the same day, exchange discussion meetings were held at 48 venues throughout Denmark, with the majority taking place in Copenhagen.

[Adapted from articles in the October 27 and 29, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]