Peace and Disarmament
SGI-USA Hosts Nuclear Abolition Event
On May 11, 2010, Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference representatives presented Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Leslie B. Gatan, advisor to the president of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, with more than 2.2 million signatures from youth calling for the adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention that would ban the development, testing, production, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.
The exchange took place at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center, where more than 350 members and guests gathered for an event titled "Awaken to the Power of One Individual: New York Learns from Atomic Bomb Survivors," which coincided with the 2010 NPT Review Conference held May 3-28 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Between January and March, Soka Gakkai youth collected 2,276,167 signatures from their peers to be submitted to the United Nations during the NPT Review Conference. The NPT is a landmark international treaty that aims to prevent the spread and development of nuclear weapons in an effort to realize nuclear disarmament.
In a message for the event, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda said that each signature represents the voice of a youth choosing a more hopeful future. "There are sources of immeasurable power and energy that lie hidden in the depths of seemingly ordinary people." Mr. Ikeda continued, "Manifesting and bringing together this energy will unleash a great force for change, one capable of transforming our world."
In his remarks, Ambassador Duarte recognized Mr. Ikeda for his longstanding efforts to establish a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons. He also commended the work of the Soka Gakkai youth who participated in the signature campaign, noting that such efforts support the first point of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.
In a message, Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan, president of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, expressed his appreciation for the SGI's efforts in disarmament education. In particular, he praised the work of the SGI youth who, in conjunction with the signature campaign in Japan, conducted a survey highlighting the concerns of more than 4,000 young people across six countries—Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, New Zealand, the US and the UK—on issues related to nuclear weapons. The survey revealed that nearly 70 percent of respondents felt that the use of nuclear weapons was not acceptable under any circumstances, while nearly 60 percent said they would feel safer if nuclear weapons were abolished.
Similarly, Ambassador Gatan expressed the importance of SGI's awareness building activities and stated that the petitions and surveys for nuclear abolition were "enormously helpful in registering the degree of public understanding of nuclear disarmament efforts, in promoting greater support where support is weak, and in signaling to national leaders that this is a real priority for action."
Another highlight of the meeting was the testimonials of five Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors, including Shigeko Sasamori, who was 13 at the time of the bombing. Ms. Sasamori became known as one of the 25 "Hiroshima Maidens" who traveled to the United States in 1955 to undergo reconstructive surgery after the late Norman Cousins, a prominent political journalist and world peace advocate, rallied financial support from the public.
On May 12, SGI-USA hosted a roundtable discussion entitled "Youth Say No to Nukes!" on youth efforts toward the adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention at the Church Center in New York, opposite the UN Headquarters.
SGI-USA has recently established a Youth Peace Group. Members of the group meet throughout the nation and study nuclear abolition issues based on Mr. Ikeda's 2009 nuclear disarmament proposal "Building Global Solidarity Toward Nuclear Abolition," as well as his 2010 peace proposal "Toward a New Era of Value Creation."
[Adapted from an article in the May 28, 2010, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of the SGI Office of Public Information]