Soka Gakkai Youth Lectures Focus on Response to March 11 Disaster
In February and March, two lectures, part of the Soka Gakkai Youth Lecture Series, were held on the aftereffects of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. The talks focused on the psychological impact of the tragedy on people, as well as the role of religion in addressing issues of life and death.
On February 23, historian of religion Dr. Tetsuo Yamaori, emeritus professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, gave a lecture titled "The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Role of Religion" at the Nippon-seinenkan (Japan Youth Center) in Tokyo.
Dr. Yamaori pointed out that the Great East Japan Earthquake could be seen as an opportunity to reflect on the values by which we live. He also stressed the importance of creating a society in which people exert themselves for the sake of others, taking into account the needs of future generations. Knowing that the Soka Gakkai youth members base their actions on the humanistic spirit of the Lotus Sutra, he expressed his hope that they would be able to play a leading role in actualizing this vision.
On March 4, Dr. Makiko Okuyama, head of the Department of Psychosocial Medicine at the National Center for Child Health and Development, spoke at the Josei Toda International Center in Tokyo about the trauma experienced by children following the March 11 earthquake.
Dr. Okuyama pointed out that many children who have survived the tragedy and who lost loved ones are unable to express their feelings due to shock and, as a result, they often suffer from chronic stress. Dr. Okuyama emphasized that family members or those caring for such children need to work towards providing a feeling of security for them, through both verbal and physical reassurance.
Dr. Okuyama also stressed the importance of allowing children to express themselves and listening carefully to what they have to say. He said that it is also important to provide clear, accurate, information in order to help them understand the reality of a situation, stating that this process can help ease anxiety and help children overcome survivor's guilt.
[Adapted from articles in the February 24 and March 5, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]