Peace and Disarmament
Nagasaki Youth Peace Forum, Presentation of Cranes from SGI-Thailand
On July 31, Soka Gakkai Nagasaki youth members held a peace forum at the Peace Hall of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, to deepen their vow to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. The theme was "From Nagasaki to the World! The Voices of Youth Will Change the World," and around 900 people attended. Soka Gakkai youth members from Hiroshima and Okinawa also participated in the event.
The forum opened with the Nagasaki Youth Peace Music Festival. Youth members performed taiko (Japanese drum), dances and songs, and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's narrative poem written for Nagasaki was read with piano and flute accompaniment.
Next, Nagasaki Soka Gakkai youth leader Akihiro Tabata officially launched a peace declaration calling for increased efforts by civil society toward the goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons. The declaration advocates that the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference be held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki so that world leaders will see for themselves the reality of the effects of nuclear weapons. This builds on ideas put forward by SGI President Ikeda in his 2011 peace proposal.
Speakers included Timur Voloshin, third secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus, who explained the challenges faced by his country as a result of both the Chernobyl disaster (the border with Belarus is just 16km from Chernobyl) and the need to clear stockpiles of nuclear weapons from the country following the breakup of the Soviet Union. He and other guests commented on the vital importance of mobilizing youth in the struggle against nuclear weapons, as so many in the disarmament community are from older generations.
Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference Chair Nobuyuki Asai and Women's Peace Culture Committee Chair Takako Yamato then presented Tomihisa Taue, Mayor of Nagasaki, with more than 57,000 paper cranes made by Thai people who viewed SGI's antinuclear exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit," shown in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Thailand in 20 venues throughout the country up to February 2011.
Mayor Taue welcomed the Soka Gakkai's initiatives, saying, "It is not sufficient for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to speak out against nuclear weapons. We need the voices of many like-minded people from around the world. To receive these cranes from the people of Thailand is truly encouraging."
Other guests attending the forum included Masato Oya, president of the Nagasaki Institute for Peace Culture, and Masahito Hirose, official of the Nagasaki Testimonial Society, as well as representatives of other civil society groups active in advocacy toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.
On the previous day, July 30, Soka Gakkai youth representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa held their 20th youth peace summit at the Soka Gakkai Nagasaki Peace Hall in Nagasaki City, where representatives from each prefecture shared information about their recent peace activities and discussed in detail SGI President Ikeda's call for a nuclear abolition summit to be held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in conjunction with the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
Nagasaki Soka Gakkai youth members have a strong track record of contribution to peace activities. In 1974, they published a collection of experiences by hibakusha, titled Peace From Nagasaki, videotaped more than 150 hibakusha experiences, and conducted surveys on youth attitudes to peace. Since 1988, they have regularly held peace forums and hosted peace lectures.
[Adapted from articles in the July 31 and August 2, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]