Proposal

Restoring the Human Connection: The First Step to Global Peace
Peace Proposal 2007

Excerpt: "The Will to Disarm"

On the occasion of the thirty-second anniversary of the founding of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), I would like to offer thoughts and proposals regarding some of the issues humanity faces at this juncture in our history.

The year 2007 marks fifty years since the second president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda (1900–58), made his historic declaration condemning nuclear weapons as "an absolute evil" and calling for their prohibition.

Fifty thousand young people had gathered beneath a bright blue sky on that early September day, and the summer heat could still be felt at the Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama. In making this declaration, my mentor indicated that this was to be considered first among his instructions to his youthful followers and to subsequent generations. Although his health was already failing, there was something titanic in his bearing, as if holding the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. Even today his powerful tones and burning passion continue to resound in my heart.

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.

Here I would like to quote the core passages:

Although a movement calling for a ban on the testing of atomic or nuclear weapons has arisen around the world, it is my wish to go further, to attack the problem at its root. I want to expose and rip out the claws that lie hidden in the very depths of such weapons. I wish to declare that anyone who ventures to use nuclear weapons, irrespective of their nationality or whether their country is victorious or defeated, should be sentenced to death without exception.

Why do I say this? Because we, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live. Anyone who tries to jeopardize this right is a devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster.1

Toda had often voiced his staunch opposition to the death penalty and supported its abolition. What, then, compelled him to use the phrase "sentenced to death without exception" in denouncing the use of nuclear weapons?

This phrase was an expression of his deep-seated outrage at the forces that would trample the value and dignity of life and undermine people's right to survival. His fervent determination to "declaw" the demonic nature lurking in the depths of these weapons found voice in his choice of this harsh, unforgiving phrase.

His penetrating insight was rooted in the universal plane of human life, transcending differences of ideology and social system. It laid bare the essence of these apocalyptic weapons whose lethal destructiveness could put an end to human civilization and even to humankind's continued existence as a species.

In this sense, his declaration shares a profound commonality with the following passage from the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, issued two years before: "We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest."2

For the young members of the Soka Gakkai, whose prime focus had been on propagating Buddhism, Toda's words were as novel as they were unexpected. Many wondered why Toda, as a Buddhist, was focusing his concern so strongly on the prohibition of nuclear weapons and why he should consider this his most important message to the young people who would bear the burden of the future. Many had not grasped the idea that a religious sense of purpose cannot be fulfilled in isolation but must be complemented and completed by a larger social and human mission. This, however, is the profound essence of Buddhism as expressed by Nichiren (1222–82) in his treatise "On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land."

Today, when humanity's survival continues to be threatened by nuclear weapons, one can feel as a palpable reality the significance, farsightedness and gravity of Toda's decision to speak out at that time.

In the years since this declaration was made, the SGI has developed a program of grassroots activities to embody and implement its spirit. In 1974, for example, the youth membership of the Soka Gakkai in Japan collected ten million signatures calling for nuclear abolition, which I presented to the United Nations at its headquarters in New York the following year.

In 1982, the Soka Gakkai cosponsored, with the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the United Nations Department of Public Information, the exhibition "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World" which opened at UN Headquarters. In 1996, an updated version of this exhibition, "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Humanity," was launched. Between them, these exhibitions have been shown in thirty-nine cities in twenty-four countries, including communist countries such as the Soviet Union and China, and been visited by more than 1.7 million people.

In addition to seeking to make people aware of the horror and cruelty of nuclear weapons through these exhibitions, we have organized and participated in a wide range of events to rally international public opinion for peace, in particular for nuclear disarmament and abolition.

Preserving the Experiences of War
These series of books are compilations of the testimonials of victims of war, recollections shared by those who have experienced war as a message to those who have not, in the belief that the knowledge of the horrors of war is the surest guarantee that future generations will never be tempted down that path again.
The Soka Gakkai's youth division has compiled a total of 80 volumes under the title Senso o shiranai sedai e (To the Generations Who Do Not Know War) while the women's division has published 20 volumes of Heiwa e no negai o komete (With Hopes for Peace). Selections from these have been published in English under the titles Cries for Peace, Peace is Our Duty and Women Against War. There is also a Japanese-language DVD.

Further, our members have been active in collecting and preserving for posterity the memories of people with direct experience of war. These have been collated as a series for publication, parts of which have been translated into English. These projects, in which young people and women have taken the lead, have been recognized as an expression of the unique qualities of the Soka Gakkai as a grassroots organization.

I personally have sought out paths to nuclear abolition, the renunciation of war and the construction of a culture of peace through annual proposals such as this one and by engaging in dialogue with leading thinkers and decision-makers. A number of these dialogues have been published, including those with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, chemist and peace activist Linus Pauling (1901–94) and physicist and antinuclear activist Joseph Rotblat (1908–2005).

These efforts have been motivated by my belief that it is the shared and heartfelt desire of the world's people to ensure there is no repeat of the unconscionable slaughter of the twentieth century. That confidence remains unchanged today: I am convinced that this yearning constitutes a universal spiritual current flowing through the hearts of people of good will worldwide.

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