Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
History & Philosophy
Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
The second president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda (1900–58) made a key declaration condemning nuclear weapons as “an absolute evil” which threaten humanity’s right to live, and calling for their prohibition in front of a crowd of 50,000 Soka Gakkai youth gathered at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama on September 8, 1957. It was the height of the Cold War, when nuclear weapons capable of destroying all life cast a dark shadow over the destiny of all humankind.
Toda, whose own health was failing, called on the youth of the Soka Gakkai to take up the challenge of abolishing nuclear weapons from the world, emphasizing that there was indeed a solution to this man-made problem. This call became the impetus for the SGI’s global peace movement, in which nuclear weapons abolition remains a primary focus.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was 29 years old at the time of Toda’s speech. He recalls: “In making this declaration, my mentor [Toda] indicated that this was to be considered first among his instructions to his youthful followers and to subsequent generations . . . The importance and value of this landmark declaration have grown more evident with the passing years and will continue to do so, I am confident, into the future.”
Determined to make his mentor’s vision a reality, Ikeda has sought out paths to nuclear abolition, the renunciation of war and the construction of a culture of peace through engaging in dialogue with leading thinkers and decision-makers, as well as authoring annual peace proposals in support of the ideals of the UN.
related article The Significance of March 16 Mr. Ikeda (left) and Mr. Toda March 16 is a symbolic day for Soka Gakkai and SGI members, commemorating the occasion on March 16, 1958, when Josei Toda, second president of the Soka Gakkai, then in frail health, made an impassioned speech to 6,000 Soka Gakkai youth, entrusting them with the responsibility for the future of the Soka Gakkai and its efforts to contribute to the creation of a He has sought out the moral core of the issue, stating, “. . . if we are to put the era of nuclear terror behind us, we must struggle against the real ‘enemy.’ That enemy is not nuclear weapons per se, nor is it the states that possess or develop them. The real enemy that we must confront is the ways of thinking that justify nuclear weapons; the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.”
In response to Ikeda’s 2006 proposal for reform of the United Nations, SGI launched the People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition campaign in September 2007 and has been collaborating with international antinuclear movements such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) initiated by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). The launch coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1957 antinuclear declaration, and the campaign aims to galvanize international grassroots public opinion toward the goal of nuclear weapons abolition. See https://www.peoplesdecade.org/ for more information.
SGI has created a series of educational exhibitions highlighting the cruelty perpetrated by nuclear weapons and promoted numerous activities aimed at nuclear abolition, creating a variety of forums in which people of all ages are able to exchange views freely and share ideas. The following page features some of SGI’s most recent activities promoting nuclear abolition: https://www.sgi.org/in-focus/
Josei Toda’s 1957 Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons can be read in full here: https://www.joseitoda.org/vision/declaration/read