Human Rights Advocate Speaks at Youth Division Lecture Series
Shin Sugok, human resources consultant and advocate for minority and women's rights in Japan, lectured on "Soka Gakkai as a Solidarity of Outspoken People" at a Soka Gakkai Youth Division-sponsored lecture series on February 2. Referring to the worldwide index of press freedom conducted by Reporters Without Borders, Ms. Shin pointed out that Japan was 42nd out of 167 countries surveyed--the lowest among the advanced countries. She voiced alarm that Japanese society, strongly influenced by the status quo, has become a society that hesitates to criticize authority. She encouraged the audience to raise awareness of people's rights by speaking out against forces that trample on the weak, especially the sector of the media that deviates toward one-sided and discriminatory reporting.
Ms. Shin, a third-generation Korean residing in Japan, remarked that the first newspaper her mother read was the Seikyo Shimbun, because of its use of phonetic kana characters for ease of reading. She said such consideration for the reader revealed the true worth of the newspaper as one respecting people's integrity and remaining steadfast to its mission of communicating news and information to the populace. Ms. Shin remarked that when she read SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's writings, she felt he was genuinely reaching out to people on an equal footing. She said sincere actions that transcend barriers like that of nation and gender, such as those appealed for by Mr. Ikeda, are urgently needed in today's society.
Indicating that Soka Gakkai's ideals are founded on a positive philosophy, Ms. Shin emphasized that furthering the organization's efforts to support the disenfranchised would significantly impact society. She hoped the youth present, with their power of faith, would fight on behalf of the powerless and help create an ideal society in which people work together in mutual respect.
Soka Gakkai Youth Division Chief Tamotsu Sugiyama and Youth Peace Committee Chair Kimiaki Kawai each spoke.