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President of Soka Gakkai International,

Daisaku Ikeda's

Peace Proposal 1983

Each year since 1983, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda presents peace proposals on behalf of the international lay Buddhist organization, to which Soka Gakkai belongs. In them, he articulates Buddhist ideals and philosophy as a framework for addressing the manifold problems our global society faces in its efforts to realize human security and world peace.

This is the first one, from 1983, published in the U.S. in the April 1983 Seikyo Times.

A New Proposal for Peace and Disarmament

On this occasion of the eighth SGI Day, I would like to express my thoughts as "A New Proposal for Peace and Disarmament."

I find it heartening that all of us, in one accord, are set upon a course of hope leading toward the year 2001. Today, the shining Buddhist philosophy of Nichiren Daishonin has spread to 115 countries throughout the world. The expansion of this new, international network of peace, which transcends differences of race and nationality, gives ground for expectations of a bright future.

With Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism as its philosophical base, and with its organizational fortresses in Japan, the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia, the SGI has vigorously pursued its worthy goal of promoting peace, culture and education. The SGI has grown steadily in the eight years since the First World Peace Conference was held in Guam on January 26, 1975. The united efforts of our friends all over the world have swollen from a tiny stream into a great river. Building on our achievements so far, we must make a fresh start this year toward 2001, carrying out an even more vigorous movement for peace.

Reverse the Course to Destruction

Today, all the nations of the world, including Japan, find themselves in an extremely complex and difficult age. The global recession continues, but the trend toward military expansion, in total disregard of tremendous suffering, shows no sign of abating. As the economic situation deteriorates, both the advanced and developing nations are, for the most part, strengthening their protectionist attitudes. A single misstep and the world may well be set off on a careening course to destruction. This brings to mind the 1930s, when Japan and most of the world were plunged into the Second World War. It is no wonder that the memory of the thirties is recalled again and again today.

"An unchartable age", "an era in which the future cannot be read", the forecasts for this era in which we live are almost all pessimistic. We are most definitely entering a period of major chaos, but that is all the more reason that we, as Buddhists, must look upon it with a clear and calm eye, seeking a way out to the twenty-first century. This is why I make my proposals for peace and disarmament; I am convinced that this is my social and human mission as a Buddhist.

According to a report released by a well-known think-tank in Washington, D.C. early this year, the following two or three years will determine whether the nuclear arms race is to accelerate or we commit ourselves to the path toward disarmament. The first half of the eighties has become the era of buildup, of strengthening nuclear arms strategy as the nuclear powers rush one after another to develop new types of strategic weapons. American Pershing II missiles and cruise missiles are scheduled to be deployed in Europe by December this year. If this takes place as scheduled, it is certain to aggravate the tension between East and West within Europe. This is not Europe's problem alone. The Soviet Union has recently let it be known that they plan to deploy a part of their intermediate-range SS2O nuclear missiles in Siberia a decision thought to be intended to counteract the buildup of American nuclear power in the Far East.

The agreement to strengthen the Japan-U.S. military alliance made at the recent Japan-U.S. summit conference will undoubtedly fuel the tensions in Asia. The people of Japan are assailed by uncertainty as they wonder whether their nation is to embark upon the road to pacifism or militarism. The current crisis could well end in robbing man of his right to exist, eventually bringing on the destruction of the world. The world stands at the important crossroads this year, confronted with the choice between peace and the intensification of international tension.

Another critical point is the deep entanglement of the arms race within economic, political, and social systems. That the military-industrial complex is behind the present military destructive power is already well known. But to this must be added government bureaucracy and academia. The collaboration among military, bureaucratic, academic, and industrial organizations and institutions is becoming increasingly uninhibited. Forces with vested interests in the expansion of military power are determined to strengthen their positions, indicating the structural nature of their efforts. It is evident that the fight for disarmament will entail painful and sustained effort over a very long period.

The People Must Lead

I have said before that the threat of nuclear war can be seen as a catastrophe facing modern civilization in which Europe and European institutions have occupied a leading position ("Six-Point Proposal for Peace," February 1979). This may seem a sweeping generalization, but I believe that power based on nuclear force as the ultima ratio is, in a sense, the logical outcome of increasing control of human beings by machines and political organizations that has been steadily progressing throughout modern history. Today, the power structures supported by the terrible destructive powers of the military appear to be securely in the control of a few elite policy-makers. But are these policy-makers really in control? It is possible that they may actually be under the influence of the evil inherent in nuclear weapons and political power. This kind of evil is called "fundamental ignorance of the true nature of existence" in Buddhist philosophy. Under cover of the darkness of ignorance, humanity is certain to be degraded to a secondary role in all areas of society.

In truth, more than anything else I see a lack of humanity within people who glibly speak of the possibility of limited nuclear war. This is a prospect that goes beyond the concept of the nuclear deterrent. Puppets of the nuclear devil, these people cannot possibly admit the anguish of the dying into their calculations of murder of thousands and millions. In their scenario, nuclear weapons play the lead, and humanity is given the wretched secondary role of defeated antagonist. Of course, such devilry is not restricted to nuclear arms. It is a shadow on weapons of all kinds. But the terror of nuclear weapons is in their grotesque magnification of this devilry to the utmost limits.

Clausewitz was able to say that war is "nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with an admixture of other means" because in his time he could safely assume that war was something that could be controlled by men. But the advent of nuclear arms has invalidated such reassuring assumptions. That is why I believe that the existence of nuclear weapons is one of the catastrophes of all of modern civilization, and why I believe that the appearance of nuclear weapons was a fateful event in human history. The fact that a few elite groups have control over the power structures based on nuclear might surely is a declaration of man's defeat, of the death of human dignity.

What does this fateful event, the advent of nuclear arms, demand of us? It demands that man, the people, recover the lead in the drama of human history. Here, I would like to reaffirm our immutable guiding principle that "the Soka Gakkai will eternally stand on the side of the common people."

The upsurge of anti-nuclear and disarmament movements worldwide since 1981 is of historical significance. The average citizen has been the force supporting these movements as they spread beyond national boundaries. I sense the birth of a new age of the people. Confronted with an enemy of all mankind, nuclear arms, the people have awakened to see that it is up to them to preserve peace. This self-awareness brings a new light to the peace movement. This is the first time in history that a people's movement has attained an organizational power equal to that of government and international systems.

We have long awaited the coming of this age. In the hope of bringing it even one day closer, I have done what little I could, traveling as a private person to forty countries, meeting with people in leadership positions and promoting contact and cooperation with different peoples, in order to broaden the movement for perpetual peace. But we have only just begun. The state and political powers continue to present strong obstacles. The issue that faces us today is how the people are to break through these great obstacles and open the way to permanent peace. I am not at all pessimistic about the present situation; despair and resignation will not open the way to the future. As Karl Jaspers said toward the end of his life, "No situation is hopeless." I would like to see us go forward with confidence and hope, certain that we can push open the door to the twenty-first century.\par During a recent conversation, Professor Robert N. Bellah of the University of California emphasized the importance of hope. Simply terrifying people with the tragic consequences of nuclear arms and nuclear war, he said, only serves to deprive people of their hope for the future and push them, particularly young people, into self-centeredness. Instead, peace movements should encourage people to hope for the reform of society and reassure them that the most deeply-rooted wish of humanity can be attained. The American sociologist has expressed great expectations for our many activities for peace.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are likely to play an increasingly important role in crystallizing the people's wish for peace. NGOs are not bound by the narrow confines of national interest; their approach transcends the state. Their goal is the peace and welfare of all mankind.

The Soka Gakkai is an NGO actively cooperating with the U.N. Department of Public Information.

In addition to mobilizing citizens and mass movements led by the NGOs, it is also necessary to create a worldwide network of universities, research institutes and even local governments, that will provide the theoretical framework for the guidance of these movements and study concrete methods and programs for realizing peace.

That will take considerable time, for nuclear arms are not the only problem to be solved. Answers must be found to all of the pressing global issues threatening the survival of mankind if a new order of peace is to be built.

Opening of Peace Forum

In "A New Proposal for Disarmament and the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons" (June 1982), submitted to the United Nations General Assembly second special session on disarmament, I urged the non-nuclear nations to unite toward creating a global net of peace around the United States and the Soviet Union. To do this, a multi-layered approach is required. This year I am working together with Soka University on projects that will set us firmly on the first step toward the consideration of peace. One of these projects is to invite from overseas well-known scholars, peace activists and people involved in the United Nations to participate in a "Peace Forum" to be held this fall. If the third World Peace Grand Culture Festival, also scheduled in the Kansai region this fall, is a gathering of the people of the world to pray and act for peace, the "Peace Forum" will be a gathering of intellectuals to discuss ways of overcoming the global issues confronting mankind.

I would like to apply the same kind of global perspective in our continued support to the United Nations this year. One aspect of our support is participation in a World Disarmament Campaign. The exhibition "The Nuclear Threat to Our World" held last year at the U.N. Headquarters in New York elicited a strong response and made a significant contribution to boosting anti-nuclear and disarmament sentiment. The exhibition prompted U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar to declare that he would like to establish permanent exhibits of materials and documents on the atomic bomb in a total of .sixty-eight U.N. offices, including sixty-three U.N. Information Centers around the world, the U.N. Headquarters, the U.N. Office at Geneva and the U.N. Office at Vienna. That this has been formally initiated by the United Nations is partly because of our exhibition on the nuclear threat.

In my proposal to the first special session on disarmament ("A Ten-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament," May 1978), I suggested that documents, photographs and films on the tragedy and cruelty of war, the horrifying destructive power of nuclear weapons, the realities of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the extent and variety in today's actual arsenal of nuclear arms be collected and displayed for the people who visit the United Nations. In addition, I urged that a "Peace Archives" be established within U.N. Headquarters. I am overjoyed to see that the United Nations has definitely been moving to implement these suggestions.

Today there exist nuclear warheads with more than a million times the destructive power of the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the very magnitude of this power and the extraordinary figures required to represent its force make it unreal to human sensitivity. That is why it becomes increasingly important and necessary to use the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is precisely why we are planning to hold another international exhibition on the same theme this year. I hope that it will help in encouraging greater antinuclear and disarmament sentiment among the public.

The burgeoning support by young people of the peace movement seems especially promising. It has been twenty-five years since my mentor and predecessor, Josei Toda, charged the youth members of the Soka Gakkai with the task of abolishing nuclear weapons. In this time, the peace movement of the Young Men's Division has become deeply rooted in society. To expand this globally, I suggest that the Young Men's Division consider holding a Youth Culture Festival for World Peace in 1985. The United Nations has designated 1985 as International Youth Year, which is the twentieth anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption in 1965 of a "Declaration on Promoting among Youth the Ideal of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between People." How the fervor and strength of youth are to be used in the twenty-first century is an issue of importance for every nation today. It is indeed significant that we follow President Toda's teaching and try to bring together the youth power of the world for the fulfillment of peace.

Courageous Decisions of World Leaders Wanted

In the closing words of her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Alva Mydral quoted from Alfred Nobel's will in a plea to hold a peace conference. I heartily endorse her plea and renew my appeal for a summit meeting for peace. This is consistent with my belief that we must encourage the shift from an age of elitism to an age of the people. Professor Emeritus Masao Maruyama of Tokyo University has already pointed out that, unlike ambassadors and ministers whose movements are necessarily restricted by national interests, supreme national leaders have a common focus on human problems that go beyond those of individual nations. A summit meeting is a natural source of bold ideas and actions and of courageous decisions. Of course the prerequisite may be that world leaders be released from the spells of such evils as nuclear power. But even if that is not possible, I still believe that by meeting and talking together, our leaders at least can create an opening in the present blockade through which some fresh air may blow. The dramatic renewal of friendship between the United States and China is a historical lesson in what human contact can accomplish.

I spoke before of the fateful appearance of nuclear weapons. Fateful because the "negative gravity" of nuclear force threatens to annihilate humanity, a threat that has compelled the world to contemplate a common doom. How is this "negative gravity" to be converted into "positive gravity"? I would like to believe that those in the ultimate positions of responsibility are seriously considering this question. A summit meeting would surely provide the catalyst to resolve this enormous problem.

Of special urgency is top-level communication for the heads of government of the United States and the Soviet Union to hold talks between themselves, as soon as possible. It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of an honest and frank exchange of opinions between the two world leaders at this juncture in particular, not long since Yuri Andropov took office as Soviet Communist Party chief, so that the two leaders can understand what the other is thinking, and what he wishes most to accomplish for his country.\par As a Buddhist, and from my own experience of meeting people in the world, I am irrevocably committed to my belief in the value of human encounter daily, throughout life. Strangers meet, they talk honestly and stimulate each other. An accumulation of the intangible effects of such encounters eventually bears tangible fruit. There is no reason that the same principle should not apply to the encounter between the two leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union.

I find myself coming back to this basic, simple point again and again; just to break through the impasse we have come to, somebody has to have the courage to effect arms reduction and real detente. The responsibility that lies with people who can do that, the heads of the two superpowers, is weighty indeed. Japan has an important role, too; it must find effective ways to encourage lasting detente between Washington and Moscow.

I have some proposals to make. Call it an ideal, or the fervent wish of a world citizen, but my hope is that my proposals will be considered and acted upon at a summit meeting between the U.S.-Soviet heads of government.

First of all, I ask that they give top priority to a freeze on nuclear weapons. America and the Soviet Union should agree to stop the production, testing and deployment of nuclear weapons. First it is necessary that they agree to halt the arms race now, and then they should start nuclear reduction talks.

Much heated discussion centers on which side the freeze will benefit. The White House leaders maintain that a freeze on nuclear weapons at the present levels would be disadvantageous to their side. I think they should carefully rethink the long-term benefits to the world. I am not inclined toward either the United States or the Soviet Union; a nuclear freeze has meaning only if the effect on the world is considered. It is not an issue to be dealt with from such a narrow perspective.

Why has there been no progress in nuclear arms reduction? Because Washington and Moscow, even while holding nuclear arms reduction talks, have retained their mutual distrust and have continued the nuclear arms race. They may have agreed to a balanced reduction, for example, but they were divided over the balance, and their discussion went round in circles without getting anywhere

At the time when the second special session devoted to disarmament was being held, I received a book written by U.S. senators Edward M. Kennedy and Mark 0. Hatfield, both of whom have been working hard to get a nuclear freeze bill through Congress. The book contains the following passage, which I agree with totally:

"It betrays the lesson of the first nuclear war (Hiroshima, Nagasaki) to offer a freeze sometime in the future, or a freeze with preconditions, which would mean that both the United States and the Soviet Union could build more and more weapons, and negotiate at greater and greater length before entering into any agreement at all."

Mutual Trust; the Key to Large Military Cuts

The main reason I propose a nuclear freeze is that I believe it will stimulate greater trust between America and the Soviet Union, and I think greater trust will prime the progress toward agreement on a large arms reduction. Most important above all is to break out of the vicious circle of mutual distrust, escalation of fear and a spiraling arms race.

I have visited the United States and the Soviet Union a number of times, and I feel in my bones, I know, that the people of both nations long for peace. A reliable survey shows that eighty percent of all Americans want to stop the production of new types of nuclear weapons. They are satisfied that the two nations are balanced in their nuclear capabilities. Further, more than seventy percent want to prohibit the storage and use, as well as the production, of nuclear weapons. I believe that Soviet citizens, twenty million of whom were victimized during the Second World War, feel the same way. The people do not want more nuclear weapons. I clearly remember something a Chinese leader said to me in China once I talked with him about nuclear arms: "We cannot feed or clothe ourselves with a nuclear weapon."

In the United States, the upsurge last year of a nuclear freeze campaign was fired, I believe, by the sense among American citizens that such a movement was the shortest road to avoiding a nuclear war and ensuring protection of the people's livelihood. In this case, too, I trust the inclination of the people; their sensitive and realistic response to the nuclear issue should be heeded carefully.

One reason I have been calling for an end to the nuclear arms race for so long is to lift the heavy burden of military expenditures that is oppressing the livelihood of the people and causing indirect economic dislocations in many countries. It is generally accepted that the Vietnam War was a very big factor in the decline of the once-invincible American economy. The current deficit in the U.S. federal budget (October 1982-September 1983) is estimated at a huge $200 billion. Experts predict that the American economy will not hold up much longer under such an enormous military burden. For the U.S.S.R., military expenditures may impose an even more intolerable burden on the Soviet economy.

The United States reportedly spends $35 billion annually on nuclear arms. A nuclear freeze would save America half that amount. If arms reduction talks progress after the freeze, the expense required for the operation and maintenance of nuclear weapons would be reduced again, significantly.

Nuclear War Prevention Center

Total world military expenditures today are estimated to amount to no less than $650 billion per year. This is a colossal waste of manpower, machine power, materials and money. It should be stopped as soon as possible. In the industrially advanced nations, a total of more than twenty million people are jobless. Depression and inflation are draining people of their energy and their will to work and build solid lives, causing a widespread social instability. It is this sort of atmosphere that is conducive to newly guised forms of fascism and world war.

I further propose, again in the interests of stabilizing society, that the United States and the Soviet Union agree to establish a "Nuclear War Prevention Center." It is alarming but a fact that nuclear strategists now think of nuclear arms as usable weapons. That type of thinking makes the danger that nuclear war may become reality greater than ever. And many have pointed out the growing danger of war by accident due to a false warning by computers, for example. The hot line between Washington and Moscow has been installed to prevent an accidental nuclear war, but that alone is far from an adequate safeguard. There is no way we can reinforce too strongly, using all the most advanced high technology of today, an effective nuclear war prevention system. A new center staffed by the highest-level specialists from the two superpowers is imperative. Only through such an institution, set up in a neutral nation, can all possible measures, based on considerations from all possible angles, be worked out to avert a nuclear war.\par The most highly qualified experts in military affairs, politics, economics and other relevant fields should work regularly in the center. They should have access to the best in computer facilities and disposal in order to collect and analyze all the necessary information to spot a crisis quickly and work out effective measures to deal with it. The nuclear war prevention center should start as an organization designed specifically to avert a nuclear war. Later, however, it could assume additional functions, becoming a center to prevent regional war, and its staff should be expanded to include specialists from many countries from all the regions of the world.

International Conference to Freeze Military Expenditures

The third proposal I submit to the United States and the Soviet Union is an international conference directed at engineering a freeze on military expenditures the moment the two powers agree upon a nuclear freeze. I propose that they call such a conference and lead the representatives of all nations present to agree to halt any further increases in their military spending.

To freeze nuclear weapons at present levels is not enough. An international consensus that imposes a ceiling on military expenditures, including conventional arms, is categorically necessary. I believe such a conference is now possible. In fact, at the second special session on disarmament last year, the U.S. President Ronald Reagan made a firm proposal to hold an international conference on military expenditures that would establish a system for reporting how much major nations spend on arms. The recent Prague Declaration also proposed opening negotiations between the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on measures to limit military spendings at present levels and eventually of reducing them.

Today, many industrially advanced nations are exporting large shipments of weapons to developing countries. But a growing number of developing countries are on the verge of bankruptcy, their total debts amounting to a huge six hundred billion dollars. Any further accumulation of debt could easily create a worldwide financial crisis; signs have already appeared in recent developments in the Mexican and Polish economies. Some sort of regulations must be imposed on weapons exports to developing countries, and they must be made effective now. The international meeting should discuss this issue thoroughly and produce concrete plans for implementation.

I think this conference should also be expected to produce an international agreement regarding a freeze on military expenditures as well as a carefully thought-out study on how best to use funds freed as disarmament progresses. This money should be invested in human welfare and a better livelihood for the people, especially in the developing countries. Other meaningful ways to use these funds would be in the promotion of peace and education throughout the world.

Easing International Tensions                                                              

As militarization accelerates in one nation after another, the role Japan must play seems to become steadily more pivotal with far-reaching implications. Our position on the Japanese Constitution is consistent: we aim to protect it, in all eventualities, in the quest for lasting peace. It is not only for the sake of Japan itself. We believe that to implant the spirit and the ideal of the Peace Constitution among all nations and people and spread the ethos of a war-renouncing people is the surest way toward permanent peace. I have urged young people and students to take charge of a campaign to protect the Constitution, simply because the Constitution itself is based on trust in human nature, in mankind, transcending the framework of a nation. The wisdom and perception that penetrated the currents of history to incorporate Article Nine into the Constitution will eventually prove to represent one of the most farsighted acts of leadership in our time.

We must direct the current of the times forcefully toward rebuilding the human community. Japan should take the leadership in that effort. Japan should follow the path of a pacifist nation, based on its pacifist Constitution.

For Japan to keep true peace, there is no way but to gradually prod the international environment toward true detente and arms reduction. That is the reason that I have been pushing for so long peaceful ties of friendship between Japan and all nations on earth. It has become anachronistic to try to maintain its own security through a relationship with a specific nation based on "common destiny" and relying on powerful military force. The idea of making the Japanese archipelago an "unsinkable aircraft carrier," as expressed by Prime Minister Nakasone on his recent American tour, is very dangerous

The other day we received a letter from an American Nobel Prize winner, Dr. George Wald. Apparently he was deeply moved by the English edition of an antiwar publication put out by the Young Men’s Division of the Soka Gakkai, entitled Peace Is Our Duty. He says in the letter that the pity is that such accounts come only through the experience of war itself—sometimes only later. He points out, "Our problem is to keep our young people from being drawn into that experience."

The twenty-first century is just around the corner. We must not let war burn out the bright future for the young generations. Whether or not the people can shape an era when they will play the leading role depends entirely on people. But the wise choice, to heed the pacifist instinct of the people, is more vital today than in any other period in the past.

I am a person of the common people and as such, I will challenge the task this year, too, of all humankind—peace. I wish to build an ever greater wave of victory by the people.

January 26th 1983

Copyright 1983 by Soka Gakkai

All rights reserved

Each year since 1983, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda presents peace proposals on behalf of the international lay Buddhist organization, to which Soka Gakkai belongs. In them, he articulates Buddhist ideals and philosophy as a framework for addressing the manifold problems our global society faces in its efforts to realize human security and world peace.

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