Peace and Disarmament
Nobel Peace Laureates Speak at Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Lecture Series
Soka Gakkai Hiroshima youth members sponsored a Hiroshima Study Lecture Series on November 13 and 14 at the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Memorial Hall. Three lectures were held in conjunction with the 11th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates which took place at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park from November 12-14.
Guest speakers were Frederik Willem de Klerk, former president of South Africa, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and the cofounder of Northern Ireland's Peace People, Máiread Corrigan Maguire.
At the first lecture held on November 13, Mr. de Klerk spoke about his experience of spearheading the dismantling of South Africa's nuclear weapons program, the history of apartheid in South Africa and the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He emphasized that in order to achieve this, feelings of threat which often lead to violence must be replaced with feelings of trust gained through dialogue. Mr. de Klerk, who was instrumental in abolishing apartheid, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, together with Nelson Mandela.
At the lecture on November 14, Ambassador Dhanapala, whose organization the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs was awarded the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, called the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a crime against humanity. He emphasized that civil society has huge power to create change and influence governments and paid tribute to Soka Gakkai for its ongoing efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The second lecture of the day was given by Ms. Maguire, whose sister's three children were killed by a runaway car whose driver who had been shot during the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. In her lecture, she shared her experience of using nonviolence to end the conflict in Northern Ireland and emphasized the power of one-to-one dialogue. Addressing the youth of Hiroshima, Ms. Maguire told them that, given that they come from a city that has directly witnessed the effects of a nuclear weapon, they have an important mission to persuade people of the necessity for nuclear abolition. She also stressed the importance of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution which renounces war.
In 1976, together with Betty Williams and others, Ms. Maguire founded the grassroots organization called Peace People that promotes a vision of a future free from violence. She is also a recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.
[Adapted from articles in the November 14 and 16, 2010, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]