Peace and Disarmament
Women's Peace Committee 2006 Report
In 1999, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan astutely stated, "We must act at a deeper level if we want enduring results; we need, in short, a culture of peace." During 2006, the Soka Gakkai's Women's Peace Committee (WPC) in Japan organized a successful Culture of Peace Forum series, continued to tour its "Women and a Culture of Peace" exhibition and created a exhibit titled, "Children and a Culture of Peace."
The forum was held at 124 venues around Japan, with close to 77,000 people taking part, while the "Women and a Culture of Peace" exhibition toured seven cities and has now reached an audience of over 750,000 people. The new "Children and a Culture of Peace" exhibition, which highlights important social issues such as the high rate of bullying, abuse and even suicide among children in Japan, attracted considerable attention and will be a key activity in 2007.
The year 2007 marks the 50th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Buoyed by the success of last year's activities, the committee plans to tour the exhibitions and hold Culture of Peace Forums even more widely, as well as making the newly released DVD "For the Sake of Peace: Women's War Testimonies" available as a peace education tool. The DVD features interviews and eyewitness wartime experiences of 16 Japanese women.
Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams Visits the WPC in Tokyo
Women's Peace Committee representatives welcomed Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams to the Soka International Women's Center on November 6, 2006. She embraced each one of the chorus performers who welcomed her. Observing the exhibition panels on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's dialogues with various well-known people from around the world, she mentioned her own friendship with some of them, including former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, the late U.S. civil rights champion Rosa Parks, and futurist and sustainable development expert Dr. Hazel Henderson.
Academic Symposium Held in Russia
The St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) cosponsored a symposium in St. Petersburg from October 3-4, 2006, with a theme of "Human Issues and Religion."
During the symposium in which eight out of thirteen presenters were women, Toshie Kurihara and Kyoko Oshima, both WPC and IOP members, presented papers entitled "Women and the Ideals of Nichiren Buddhism" and "A Culture of Peace and Buddhist Ideals of Peace," respectively.
Dr. Margarita I. Vorobyova-Desyatovskaya, an authority on the Lotus Sutra, commented, "Great scholars, activists and humanists of the nineteenth century maintained that a state lacking respect for women can never be called civilized." She said SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's accomplishments lie in developing a "new theory of humanism" centered on the Buddhist scriptures.
Mikiko Otani Participates in the UN General Assembly, Third Committee
In 2006, Mikiko Otani of the WPC, and a member of the Women's Bar Association, participated in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly for the second year running, as a civil society representative on the Japanese Government delegation. The Third Committee of the General Assembly discusses issues ranging from cultural and social development to crime, child protection, advancement of women, family, human rights, aging, crime prevention, racial discrimination, indigenous peoples and refugees. All member states participate in this committee. Unfortunately, civil society representatives are not yet allowed to take the floor in the General Assembly. Ms. Otani said that she looks forward to a time when the voices of ordinary citizens will be heard at the General Assembly, making it a true "People's Assembly" dedicated to solving issues that threaten peace around the world.
[Adapted from the No. 13, December 17, 2006, 26 Anniversary Issue of the Women's Peace Committee News, Soka Gakkai]