For the Opening of the Exhibition "Everything You Treasure: For a World Free from Nuclear Weapons"

Hiroshima City
August 24, 2012

Mr. Atsuro Sasaki, Deputy Mayor of Hiroshima City, Dr. Robert Mtonga, Co-President of IPPNW, Dr. Keiichi Hiramatsu, President of JPPNW, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great privilege to be able to hold the inaugural showing of the exhibition "Everything You Treasure: For a World Free from Nuclear Weapons" at The 20th IPPNW World Congress in Hiroshima, city of peace. On behalf of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) members in 192 countries and territories, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation.

This exhibition was developed jointly by SGI and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and has benefited from the support of many organizations and individuals who share our common aspiration for peace. It is an honor and source of joy to be able to share this showing of the exhibition with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), with whom we have enjoyed a long history of friendship and cooperation. Please allow me to express my most sincere gratitude to all those whose support has made this holding of the exhibition possible. Thank you very much indeed.

In recent years, growing concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation and the possibility of nuclear terror have sparked a new awareness, even within the nuclear weapons states, that only through a shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons will it be possible to confront and turn back these threats.

But this awareness has yet to take the form of a concrete shift in policy. In its outcome document, the 2010 NPT Review Conference expressed deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and reaffirmed "the need for all states at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law." Despite the fact that this expresses the shared awareness of the world community, there is still very little evidence of political will within the international community to adopt a legally binding treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.

When political leaders sense the need for a fundamental policy shift, yet remain incapable of taking the first necessary step in that direction, the role and contributions of civil society—in particular to unite the world's people and give voice to their shared concerns—takes on a critical new importance. Efforts for the adoption of the epoch-making treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions moved forward dramatically precisely because of the powerful demands arising from within civil society.

Unlike landmines and cluster munitions, nuclear weapons have not been used in actual hostilities since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This has had the effect of making the threat they pose seem distant from people's daily lives. For many people, this threat is not felt as a pressing reality, and the importance of the issues surrounding nuclear weapons is obscured.

A key objective of this new exhibition is therefore to examine the problem of nuclear weapons from a range of perspectives in order to help people recognize the fact that nuclear weapons pose a direct and dire threat to all that they personally value and treasure. Through this exhibition, we seek to contribute to the deepening and strengthening of global solidarity for nuclear weapons prohibition and abolition.

Twenty-three years ago, in March 1989, I had the singular privilege of meeting with Dr. Bernard Lown, founding co-president of IPPNW, Tokyo. Looking back, it brings great joy to think that our meeting was the start of a long and fruitful collaboration between IPPNW and SGI. I will never forget when Dr. Lown described to me the motivations underlying his peace activism. He explained how, as a cardiologist he was dedicated to protecting people from the misfortune of sudden death by heart failure. A similar desire—on a larger scale—motivated him seek the abolition of the nuclear weapons that could bring death to the whole of humankind.

This lofty conviction resonates profoundly with the spirit that motivates the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—the determination to ensure that no one else must ever endure the suffering, misery and loss that result from the use of nuclear weapons.

Even if nuclear weapons are not actually used, their continued existence distorts our politics and economics in profound structural ways. They are a fundamental evil whose effects in such realms as human rights and the environment are both insidious and far-reaching. Mustering global popular solidarity for the elimination of this fundamental evil can open the path to transforming the fate of our ailing planet and enabling humanity to meet the critical challenges that confront us.

The vision of a world free from nuclear weapons can only become a reality whenever more people come together—motivated by and respectful of our various commitments and convictions—and work together in a shared undertaking.

This exhibition introduces the efforts of individuals and organizations who are taking action for nuclear weapons abolition based on their commitment to humanitarian and environmental values, to economic justice and human rights, to gender equity and the application of science that accords with the dictates of human conscience. Celebrating these efforts, we hope to inspire more people to consider nuclear weapons abolition as their personal concern and to work in expanding solidarity to that end.

The existence of nuclear weapons directly and powerfully impacts our daily lives and our respective societies; it casts a long and imponderable shadow over our children's future. Our goal is to awaken such awareness, and to spur the further formation of international public opinion for nuclear weapons abolition.

The commitments made by each individual will form the axis of a new turning point for humankind as we together choose hope over despair, courage over fear. This is the crucial basis for realizing a world free from nuclear weapons, and the members of the SGI are determined to continue to work together with like-minded people for the achievement of that vision.

In closing, I would like to offer my prayers for the health and well-being of all in attendance today and for the further flourishing of your respective organizations and movements. Thank you very much.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International (SGI)

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