Opening of the exhibition, Urania, Germany

October 7, 2011

Representatives of IPPNW Germany, the Global Cooperation Council, Excellencies of the diplomatic community, respected guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Berlin is a city that, transcending the legacy of Cold War confrontation, continues to forge a brilliant new future. It is thus a great and moving privilege to be able to hold our antinuclear weapons exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace" here in the URANIA, a center of unique cultural significance. On behalf of members of Soka Gakkai International in 192 countries and territories worldwide, I would like to express my most heartfelt gratitude for this opportunity.

"Der politische Zustand der Welt muß grundlegend verwandelt werden, so daß eine in Wahrheit friedenbewahrende Ordnung entsteht." ("The political situation of the world must be radically transformed so that a truly peaceful order comes into existence.") These are the words of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker who, throughout the Cold War, strove to make people aware of the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Next year will mark the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Göttingen Declaration in which von Weizsäcker played a pivotal role.

In that same year, 1957, my mentor, Josei Toda, issued a call from Japan, in which he declared nuclear weapons to be an absolute evil and urged their abolition. In the years since then, Toda's declaration has served as a consistent source of inspiration for our efforts to bring into being a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons. In September 2007, we launched a new campaign, the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition—Building Global Solidarity toward a World without Nuclear Weapons, in which we have enjoyed the cooperation of many like-minded individuals and organizations. This exhibition is one activity of the People's Decade, and with this showing today it will have been seen in more than 220 cities in 28 countries, drawing numerous visitors at each venue.

Through this experience one thing has become clear: that the ideology of deterrence, on which the structures of the Cold War were based, is being called increasingly into question, even within those strata of political leadership where its legitimacy and efficacy were long viewed as self-evident. The necessity and underlying rationale of nuclear weapons is now being challenged. As Canada's former Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Douglas Roche put it: "the intellectual case for nuclear deterrence is crumbling." I know that I am not alone in sensing a profound and fundamental shift in our world.

As successive United Nations Secretaries General, along with many political leaders and specialists have pointed out, the threat of nuclear terrorism is in itself enough to demonstrate unequivocally that nuclear-weapons based deterrence theory today makes no meaningful contribution to security. And yet, in spite of these changes, nuclear deterrence has continued to function as a kind of dogma in which nuclear weapons possession is considered the ultimate guarantor of security. And this dogma continues to justify itself under the guise of "realism." To adhere to this kind of ossified thinking more than twenty years after the end of the Cold War is, however, hardly realistic; indeed, it is positively dangerous.

At the same time, the accident at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, this past March has cast important new doubts on the safety of nuclear power generation, and has brought into sharp focus the question of how humanity should engage with nuclear energy in any form.

Today humanity faces a daunting array of challenges—from poverty and environmental destruction, to devastating unemployment and financial instability—which require the joint, coordinated response of all nations. These challenges make all the more clear the folly of diverting precious human and economic resources to the maintenance of nuclear arsenals. What humanity requires is genuine security, not nuclear weapons.

In order to achieve real security in the twenty-first century we need to bring forth the powers of imagination that will enable us to directly and accurately apprehend evolving realities, to guide these changes toward the desired direction and to give birth to entirely new realities. To effect the transition from military-based national security to a new paradigm of human security requires a new creativity based on such powers of imagination. This, indeed, is one of the central themes of this exhibition.

We will only advance on the path toward nuclear weapons abolition through the full deployment of humankind's creative capacities. There is no point in underestimating the difficulties that confront us. But human history—in particular the history of the courageous people of Berlin—offers proud proof that people possess within them the capacity to surmount the seemingly most intractable situations, and to create value in richly fulfilling ways.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great master of German literature, is one of humanity's shared treasures. As he wrote: "Es bleibt einem jeden noch soviel Kraft das auszuführen wovon er überzeugt ist." ("Everyone has enough power left to carry out that of which he is convinced.")

It is in the efforts of individuals to manifest this potential—deepening bonds of solidarity and transforming normative frameworks though tenacious dialogue—that we can advance toward humanity's dream of supplanting a culture of war and violence with a new culture of peace. Germany has played an important role in promoting peace and stability and in integrating Europe, and I am certain that your nation will play a critical part in these future challenges.

In October 1961, I stood before the Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin Wall, built just two months earlier, presented a deeply disturbing and unforgettable sight: the wall, and the ranks of soldiers and tanks, represented the front lines of Cold War confrontation. And yet, this wall, long considered unmovable, was brought down through the efforts of ordinary citizens. I am similarly convinced that nuclear weapons, whose abolition we are told is impossible, will without fail be eliminated through the efforts of awakened citizens.

Now is the time for global civil society and political leaders of conscience to come together to work for the noble goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The realization of a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) outlawing these weapons of mass destruction should be the first milestone to which we aspire. I take this opportunity to renew my call, from here in Berlin, for the prompt commencement of negotiations on such a convention. We of the SGI are pledged to continue and to accelerate our efforts toward this end.

In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt wishes for the health and well-being of all our distinguished guests in attendance, and for the further success in their important endeavors.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International (SGI)

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