Message for the Opening of the Exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Toward a World Free from Nuclear Weapons"

Bahrain National Museum
March 12, 2013

Your Excellency Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellency Mr. Shigeki Sumi, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Bahrain,

Your Excellencies,

The representatives of all the organizations that have extended their cooperation and support: The Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT), the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Manama, and Inter Press Service (IPS),

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen:

It is with great joy that we are able to hold the exhibition From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Toward a World Free from Nuclear Weapons here in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf. This exhibition has previously been held in 29 countries and territories around the world, but this is the first time for it to be shown here in the Middle East. On this occasion, let me express my heartfelt appreciation to you all, on behalf of the members of Soka Gakkai International in 192 countries and territories.
As an island nation located amidst the abundant waters of the Gulf, Bahrain has not only prospered over many centuries as a strategic location for free trade, but it also boasts a proud history as a crossroads for vigorous cultural exchange. Today, Bahrain plays a vital role in connecting the countries which make up the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The first president of the Soka Gakkai in Japan was the distinguished geographer and educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who authored The Geography of Human Life at the start of the 20th century. In this work, he outlined the psychological characteristics that are typical of a maritime nation. Such countries do not regard the sea as a wall that divides, he asserted, but rather as a path that links them to other nations. He stressed the importance of nurturing and expanding such paths of friendship, harmony and peace.

With the advance of globalization in modern times, geographical barriers are no longer the chief factor separating or dividing nations; rather, division now stems mainly from the dictates of military power, with nuclear arms as the most pernicious embodiment of that power.

Yet, as we can see so clearly with environmental issues, the global crises we face today are so intertwined that they cannot be resolved by the efforts of any single nation acting in isolation.

Only when humankind surmounts the impasse posed by the nuclear age where lethal threat has locked horns with lethal threat, causing ever-escalating fear and anxiety, will we be able to usher in an age of global solidarity. Then, finally it will be possible to take cooperative action to resolve the common issues we face, including environmental devastation.

The declared goal of Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations, which calls on the Security Council to establish an arms control regime, is "to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources." In spite of this, the annual global budget for nuclear weapons amounts to a staggering 105 billion dollars in total.

If these resources could be redirected to resolve global problems such as poverty and environmental devastation, this would enable the protection of the dignity of an unfathomable number of people around the world.

Yet, even more important than investing in such constructive undertakings is the need to transform the inhumane mindset which permits investment in weapons that would cause so much slaughter and destruction.

This exhibition aims to help build the global solidarity necessary to bring to an end this nuclear age and to fundamentally reassess the issue of nuclear arms. Our wish in holding this exhibition is for viewers to discuss this vital issue with each other, to share their impressions of the exhibition with friends and acquaintances, talking with them about how nuclear weapons affect our lives and why it is necessary to abolish them.

For it is only through such heartfelt dialogue that the expansion of support for a world without nuclear weapons can be achieved. Furthermore, although this may seem to be a circuitous route, I'm convinced that it is in fact the surest path toward building lasting global peace.

I understand that the National Theatre of Bahrain opened last November next to this National Museum. I would like to express my heartfelt felicitations on the birth of one of the largest theatres in the entire Middle East region. I am told the new building's architecture is inspired by the famous tales in "A Thousand and One Nights." There is one scene in this literary masterpiece which has left a profound impression on me: An arrogant philosopher asks a wise young woman, "What is sharper than the sword?" She replies, "The tongue."

It is always possible to find a way forward through the power of dialogue. With this conviction, I have engaged in numerous dialogues with leaders and thinkers around the world.

While expressing immeasurable joy at being able to hold this exhibition in the Kingdom of Bahrain, I would like to renew my resolve to exert every effort for the formation of a global network of solidarity through dialogue, together with people around the world who share the common desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In May of 2010, the Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons agreed to convene a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. I truly hope that this exhibition will contribute toward creating a suitable atmosphere for the realization of such a zone.

In closing, allow me to offer my sincere prayers for the good health of all those present today, my best wishes for the further success of all the organizations that have supported the showing of this exhibition and for the flourishing of your esteemed country.

Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International (SGI)

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