Buddhist Leader Receives 250th Academic Honor For Contributions to Education, Peace
Tokyo, Japan: On March 21, 2009, at a graduation ceremony at Soka University in Hachioji, Tokyo, University College South of Denmark conferred an honorary doctorate upon Daisaku Ikeda, founder of Soka University and president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), bringing to 250 the number of academic honors he has received.
University College South Rector Søren Vang Rasmussen conferred the degree in recognition of "long service and valuable contribution to research and practice toward the development of Education for Life," explaining that Soka education has much in common with the strong Danish tradition of "education for life" inspired by N.S.F. Grundtvig, father of the Danish folk high school tradition, and author and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
In his speech at the ceremony, Mr. Ikeda stressed the role of education in preventing war, stating that while war separates people, education brings them together. He also expressed his expectations for progress toward nuclear disarmament at talks between the U.S.A. and Russia expected during the G20 Summit in London in April. He proposed the establishment of an intergovernmental panel on nuclear abolition to pool the wisdom of the world's scientists and disarmament experts under a framework similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and urged that the world's people raise their voices in order to realize a world without nuclear weapons.
Jim Garrison, president of the John Dewey Society and professor of the philosophy of education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A., also spoke, underlining the commonalities between Soka education, which focuses on fostering creative thinking and social contribution, and the ideas of pioneering American educator John Dewey.
Congratulatory messages were sent by Óscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Danish Minister of Education Bertel Haarder among others.
Ikeda received his first academic award, an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University, in May 1975. Since then, universities and academic institutions in 46 countries around the world have recognized his varied contributions to peace and education, including Peking University, the University of Bologna, the University of Denver, Ankara University, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the University of Delhi, the University of the Philippines, the University of Sydney and the University of Ghana. Of the 250 honors, 129 are honorary doctorates, 118 are honorary professorships and 3 are honorary presidencies.
Daisaku Ikeda was born in Tokyo in 1928. Experiencing the horrors of World War II as a youth left him determined to work for peace. He was president of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist association from 1960 to 1979. Since 1975 he has been president of the Soka Gakkai International, which has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories and is active in the promotion of peace, sustainability and human rights education.
Ikeda has carried out dialogues with leading thinkers from different cultures, including British historian Arnold Toynbee, two-time Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling and peace scholar Johan Galtung. Fifty of these dialogues have now been published in book form. He is currently engaged in a dialogue on education with Hans Henningsen, former principal of Denmark's Askov Folk High School.
Based on the Soka (value-creating) education philosophy of Soka Gakkai founder Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), Ikeda has established the Soka education system which ranges from kindergartens in Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Brazil to universities in Japan and the United States.
For full list of honors and institutions see:
Source: Soka Gakkai International
Contact: Joan Anderson
Office of Public Information
Soka Gakkai International