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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listJul 29, 2012

Soka Gakkai Youth Hold Annual Peace Summit and Peace Festival in Okinawa

At the Tower of HimeyuriSoka Gakkai youth representatives at the Tower of Himeyuri

Calling for a century without war, Soka Gakkai youth representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa held their annual peace summit on July 28 at the Soka Gakkai Okinawa International Peace Center in Naha.

Prior to the summit, participants visited various war memorial sites to honor victims and deepen their understanding of the Battle of Okinawa, the last and largest of the Pacific Island battles of World War II. The youth visited the southern end of the island, which was the primary site of the Battle of Okinawa 67 years ago, and offered flowers at the Tower of Himeyuri, a monument dedicated to the Himeyuri Student Girls nursing unit. The unit consisted of female high school students and teachers who were mobilized by the Japanese army to serve as war nurses. Almost all of the girls died during the final days of the battle. As well as visiting a cave that was originally a bomb shelter and used as a military hospital during WWII located in Haebaru town, the youth representatives also went to Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum in Itoman City.

The site of the former army hospital in the cave The site of the former army hospital in the cave where the Himeyuri Student Girls nursing unit took care of the injured

In the town of Nishihara, the youth met with Takamatsu Gushiken, head of Gamafuya, a volunteer group that searches for the remains of war dead in Okinawa. The word gamafuya from the Okinawan dialect means "people who dig caves." In July 2012, Mr. Gushiken and his coworkers recovered the remains of three people who died in a bunker in the Okinawan capital, Naha, during WWII. Speaking to the youth, Mr. Gushiken shared how wars have always led people to disregard the dignity of human life. He conveyed his hopes for the youth of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa, who have come from cities that have experienced the brutal effects of war, to unite and advance together in the effort toward a world free of war.

At the peace summit, Soka Gakkai Okinawa Youth Leader Hajime Ikei spoke about the ongoing search for the remains of war dead as well as the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance which still pose a threat to citizens today. Following peace activity reports by representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa, Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference Chair Nobuyuki Asai and Women's and Young Women’s Peace and Culture Committee Chair Mutsuko Kinoshita urged the youth to unite in their efforts to actualize a century of peace.

traditional Okinawan drumsOkinawa youth members giving a traditional Okinawan drum performance

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message to the participants, sharing that the momentum toward a new history of peace would come about through our persistent efforts of meeting people one-on-one, expanding our capacity for dialogue, and strengthening our network of friends.

On July 29, a Youth Peace Festival was held at the Soka Gakkai Okinawa Training Center, which was formerly a nuclear-missile site. Organized by youth representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawa, the festival featured performances of traditional Okinawan drums (kariyushi taiko), strings (sanshin) and dance (kachāshī).

At the festival, Soka Gakkai Okinawa Student Peace Committee Chair Daigo Sunagawa gave a report on a survey they conducted among local students about their attitudes toward the Battle of Okinawa.

[Adapted from articles in the July 29 and 30, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]