Welcome to the
President of Soka Gakkai International,
Peace Proposal 1985
New Waves of Peace Toward the Twenty-first Century
A Proposal Commemorating the Tenth Soka Gakkai International Day, January 26, 1985.
Pooling the People's Power to Eliminate Nuclear Arms
January 26, 1975, a day that deserves lasting commemoration in the history of our work to carry the teachings of True Buddhism to the whole world, was the occasion on which, in the presence of Nichiren Shoshu Sixty-sixth High Priest Nittatsu Shonin, at the World Peace Conference held on Guam, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was founded. The hard work and unflagging activity of more than one hundred fifty modest representatives from fifty-one countries present that day have made it possible to achieve the flourishing growth we see today in our international organization.
The historic Fourth World Peace Culture Festival, held at the Hanshin Koshien Baseball Stadium in the Kansai area in September of last year, drew participants from fifty-five countries and two territories of the world. This brilliant event was milestone marking the advent of a new era for SGI and a fitting tribute to round out its tenth year.
With the support and good wishes of fellow believers all over the world during the decade since the founding of SGI, I have traveled extensively, holding conferences with many people in positions of leadership and, to my great happiness, as the founder of Soka University, calling on educators in many of the most important educational institutions of the world: Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Hawaii in the United States; Moscow State University in the Soviet Union; Beijing University, Wuhan University, and Fudan University in China; the Chinese University of Hong Kong; the University of Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne) in France; the University of Sofia in Bulgaria; the University of Bucharest in Rumania; Complutense University in Madrid in Spain; Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Rabindra Bharati University in India; the University of Brasilia in Brazil; the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Guadalajara in Mexico; the National University of San Marcos in Peru; and the University of Panama. I took delight in the exchanges these visits made possible, since I am confident that mutual relations among human beings with profound interest in education and culture are the true foundation of lasting peace. The numerous honorary doctorates and professorships conferred on me by these institutions are less honors for me personally than recognition for the educational, cultural, and peace activities of SGI.
I should like to express my sincere respect for the immense devotion our members in all parts of the world have shown to their mission in the past ten years. At the same time, I hope that the next ten years will see further strengthening of the roots of our resolute movement in the name of peace and that, with January 26, 2001 as a goal, we will persevere in vigorous activity that will be engraved in the history of kosen-rufu.
SGI and the Peace-making Role of Nongovernmental Organizations
On the occasion of this tenth anniversary, I should like to reiterate some of the basic policies of SGI.
1. As good citizens, the members of Soka Gakkai International resolve to contribute to the prosperity of our respective cultures, customs, and laws.
2. The members of Soka Gakkai International resolve to aim for the realization of eternal peace and the prosperity of humanistic culture and education, based on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, which clearly defines the dignity of human life.
3. The members of Soka Gakkai International resolve to contribute to the happiness of humankind and the prosperity of the world, while strongly denying war and violence of any kind; to support the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations; and to make positive steps toward cooperating with its endeavor to keep world peace, with the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of a warless world as the supreme purpose.
The realization of the goal of a warless world demands uniting the masses of the whole globe. To contribute to its achievement, with the cooperation of the United Nations and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, since 1982 the Soka Gakkai Youth Division has been sponsoring an exhibition entitled "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World," in the hope of consolidating the will of all people to oppose nuclear war and work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Realizing that easing of tensions in Europe is an urgent part of peace for the world, the year before last we sponsored this exhibition in such cities as Geneva, Vienna, and Paris. Last year it was shown in Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo, and Bergen. This year it is being held in West Berlin. Wherever it has gone, it has aroused tremendous response. Fully aware of its significance, I intend to give the exhibition the greatest possible support.
The exhibition started with a showing at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of the Second Special Session of the General Assembly on Disarmament, in June 1982. At that time, UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar said he wished every ambassador, minister, and diplomat attending the conference would see it. I hope that it can be shown at the Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Disarmament and serve further to stimulate public opinion against nuclear arms.
Since its first showing, the exhibit has been in wide demand and has toured many parts of the world. It has been highly regarded by people connected with the United Nations, intellectuals, and workers for peace everywhere. In the future, as part of the World Disarmament Campaign, it is scheduled to be shown in such socialist countries as China and the nations of the Soviet bloc and in such Third World countries as Kenya.
The exhibit does more than merely stimulate world opinion: it clearly points up the importance of the role of private groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in all future work for peace. As a valuable example of successful cooperation between NGOs and the United Nations, the exhibition is especially significant for the way it accords completely with the ideals of the United Nations Charter, which stresses the will for peace shared by ordinary people everywhere. I hope that, as an NGO of the United Nations, in the future SGI will be active not only in exhibitions of this kind but also in many other activities connected with global issues.
The proposals I made to the First and Second Special Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly on Disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons represent my desires as a man of religion and express my hope, as leader of SGI, to protect and support the United Nations.
Still another phase of our work for peace is the holding of disarmament seminars representing a coming together of the wisdom of many people as groups of our members engage in exchanges with leaders concerned with peace and disarmament. For example, last year, such an exchange was made between our representatives and Prime Minister Olof Palme of Sweden, chairman of the Palme Commission (Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues). Another field in which I hope SGI will play a prominent, helpful role is refugee relief. I am deeply moved by the shocking recent reports of dire famine in Africa. The year before last, in September, when I met Mr. Poul Hartling, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), I told him that, in Buddhist terminology, UNHCR's efforts in protecting human life are part of the work of the bodhisattvas and as such deserve the highest respect. It is impossible to overlook the importance of aiding refugees as a positive way of working for peace by protecting human rights.
Last year, the Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference conducted a fund-raising campaign to aid famine-stricken Africa refugees and was able to present to the UNHCR about 150 million yen (about 577,000 U.S. dollars). Starting in 1973, Soka Gakkai has conducted seven refugee-relief fund drives, raising a total of 431 million yen (about 1,658,000 U.S. dollars); has sent representatives to refugee camps in Indochina, Afghanistan, and Africa four times; and has participated in the International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa (ICARA). Hereafter, we shall go on taking part in work of this kind, which is a fundamental expression of a desire to protect the dignity of humanity.
Proposals for Peace
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of SGI, the twenty-fifth year since I began my journeys for world peace, and the fifty-fifth year since the founding of Soka Gakkai. I should like to take advantage of the opportunity the occasion presents to make a few proposals.
Like many others, I have the greatest interest in the resumption of disarmament talks between the United States and the Soviet Union that has taken place in this important fortieth year after the conclusion of World War II. Last year, on the ninth annual SGI Day, I made a proposal for a wide-reaching movement to rid the world of war, expressed deep concern over the continuing tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, and advocated the conclusion of an agreement prohibiting the deployment of weapons or the use of force either on, or directed toward, Earth from outer space. Feeling this way, I openly welcome recent conference between the foreign ministers of the two nations and the resumption of arms talks. Though we cannot predict their outcome, we must be glad that discussions with the elimination of nuclear arms as their ultimate goal have resumed.
Two years ago, on the eighth annual SGI Day, I urged an immediate summit meeting between the top leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union because I believed that, from such an encounter, made possible by surmounting the difficulties between the two parties, bold thoughts and actions could break through the impasse then prevailing between them, and could lead to further courageous decisions. This year, too, as a citizen ardently longing for peace, I urge such a summit meeting, at the earliest possible date, because it would be an opportunity both to put a stop to the overall arms race between the great powers and to take a big step toward nonmilitarization of outer space. Past disarmament conferences have repeatedly ended in failure; and it is my great fear that, if the present ones drag on to a great length, militarization of outer space will become an established fact. A summit meeting is essential if this is to be prevented.
Exchange of opinions between their top leaders is the best way to eliminate the deep-rooted distrust that exists between the two nations. And, in the long view, removing this distrust can become an indirect cause leading to disarmament and serving as an important key to the achievement of global peace.
Certainly the road to disarmament is long and rocky. Nor does the far-from-successful course of past arms negotiations inspire unmitigated optimism. Nonetheless, the road must be followed. And, in this connection, I suggest that we all keep in mind the following lines by the famous Indian poet Sir Rabindranath Tagore:
Asks the Possible to the Impossible,
"Where is your dwelling-place?"
"In the dreams of the impotent,"
Comes the answer.
Human hands produced nuclear weapons and weaponry systems, and human hands should be able to reduce and eliminate them. If we stand idle and fail in this, we will rob future generations of their dreams and earn from future generations the dishonorable epithet of "the impotent." But even more horrendous, given the total-destruction capabilities of contemporary weapons, we could rob future generations not only of their dreams, but also of their very existence.
In his Giving Up the Gun; Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879, Dartmouth College professor Noel Perrin has several thought-provoking points to make. During the half century from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century after the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga's victory at the battle of Nagashino in 1575, the use of firearms was at its height in Japan. Both in technological quality and in absolute numbers, guns were almost certainly more common in Japan at that time than in any other country in the world. For centuries thereafter, however, throughout the Tokugawa period (1603-1867), the warrior class "chose to give up an advanced weapon and to return to a more primitive one," in spite of the greater killing power of the former. That is to say, they rejected the rifle and returned to the sword. And from that time onward, the quantity and quality of guns used in Japan dropped sharply. Professor Perrin gives a number of reasons for this reversal. One of the most arresting is the nature of the sword as a symbol of the human spirit and of morality. In other words, the Japanese based their choices of weapons on what could be called purely internal aesthetic awareness. As a consequence, Edo (modern Tokyo), which had the largest population of any city in the world at the time, gradually and peacefully developed a high level of technology in waterworks, sanitation, and transportation systems, while the manufacture of firearms moved from controlled production to such a state of reduction that, by the middle of the nineteenth century, most people had entirely forgotten how to use guns.
Saying "The Japanese did practice selective control," Perrin evolves two precepts that the Japanese experience proves. First, a no-growth economy is perfectly compatible with prosperous and civilized life. Second, human beings are less the passive victims of their own knowledge and skills than most men in the West suppose.
The second point offers especially encouraging hope in promoting contemporary disarmament negotiations. Of course, there is no exact analogy between the world's present dilemma about nuclear weapons and the geopolitical conditions that enabled the Tokugawa shogunate to adopt a seclusion policy and to maintain largely peaceful control over the country from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Nonetheless, making their choice on the basis of internal, spontaneous motives of moral and aesthetic consideration instead of on efficiency of weapon performance alone, the Japanese people of that time were virtually able to abolish firearms. Their success in this strikes a bitter blow against passive and pessimistic modern views that what is done is done and is irreparable. In particular, it is my desire that, confiding in the voluntary strength of the people to change existing circumstances, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union will sit at the same table and have a frank exchange of opinions as soon as possible.
Peace Culture Festival
During this year, which the United Nations has designated International Youth Year (IYY), the role that young people can play in fostering the cause of world peace will be spotlighted. In Honolulu and Hiroshima, Soka Gakkai plans to hold World Youth Peace Culture Festivals. Both already have the support of the United Nations as an undertaking planned to contribute to the success of IYY. In the past, the members of SGI have held an international festival once a year in the name of world peace. This year, in connection with the tenth anniversary of the founding of our organization and with the twenty-fifth anniversary of our early attempts to carry the Buddhist message to the whole world, they will participate in two festivals. Hiroshima was chosen as a venue partly to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the atomic bombing and partly to stimulate in that city a concentration of power for the global elimination of nuclear arms.
Parallel with the peace festival, the first World Council of Educators is scheduled to take place in Hiroshima. Through events of this kind, together with independently sponsored local culture festivals, we intend to concentrate the energy of all peoples who are eager for lasting peace. The only way to achieve this end is to start at home. Dots must be connected to form lines, and lines expanded to cover whole surfaces until peace reaches every corner of the globe.
French sociologist Roger Caillois concludes his famous book Bellone ou la pente de la guerre (The Descent to War) with the following comment: " Humanity has produced a great mechanism to serve the needs of mankind. While serving, however, that mechanism demands obedience from humanity. All thinking people must become aware of the evil in such a situation. When we try to see things in their fundamental meanings and attempt to do something about it, we find that the problem is extremely subtle and virtually limitless. But, in essence, it is a human problem, a solution to which must be found first in human education. No matter how long it takes, this is, in my view, the only way to restore to its proper functioning a world in which education has become perilously faulty. Still, I become terrified when I think that, proceeding at our current lagging pace, we must somehow overtake the rapidly advancing danger of absolute war."
Although his view is somewhat pessimistic, I consider his comments about seeing things in their fundamental meaning and about finding a solution first in human education very important. And, though it may sound a little like blowing our own horn, I am confident that, through our various peace and culture festivals, we are helping to create a new style of education. I cannot suppress my excitement and hope for the peace of the twenty-first century when I see our young people growing and developing as they pool their energy and strength in the difficult work of preparing and presenting those festivals. Nothing can be a stronger force for pace than the confidence these young people, and all human beings for that matter, cultivate by facing and overcoming difficulties.
On a slightly different level, I place great hope in the Third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Disarmament. Of course, the groundwork for the meeting must be carefully laid, and preparations must embody sincere, earnest reflection on the experiences of the preceding two UN special sessions. The primary importance of the meeting is as a challenge from the ordinary people to reverse the current worldwide trend toward increasing militarization and to ease dangerous intentional tensions. Next year, which has been designated the International Year of Peace by the United Nations, will be especially significant as the time when preparations for that third special session must be made.
In connection with this special session, I place great stress on the need to declare a comprehensive nuclear test ban because the halt this would cause in weapons research would be a revolutionary step in the direction of the elimination of nuclear armaments.
An Age of Asia and the Pacific
Since, at present, Asia and the Pacific zone are being closely observed everywhere, I believe that, as we stand looking toward the twenty-first century from the vantage point of the fortieth anniversary of the conclusion of World war II, how peace is to be achieved in this part of the world is of special importance.
Obviously, the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States is a matter of the greatest concern to the peace of the Asian region. Both of these superpowers have recently shifted strategic emphasis to this part of the world and, lamentably, with nuclear weapons positioned in the Pacific, glare at each other. This is an immense threat. And, if the current situation continues, Asia could well become a bigger stage of Soviet-American confrontation than Europe has been. It would be especially dangerous and foolish should Japan be drawn into this conflict.
Currently, a mood of dialogue among the Asian nations is gaining impetus. I am especially glad to see the movement in this direction represented by recent attempts to improve contacts between North and South Korea, regions considered especially perilous tinderboxes. Efforts to ease tensions between the two Koreas is highly encouraging for all people who wish for peace. But I fear that strategic emphasis placed on the Asian region by the United States and the Soviet Union could have negative effects on this and other similar movements.
In June of last year, during my sixth visit to China, when I met Chinese Communist Party Secretary General Hu Yaobang, because I was especially concerned about the matter, I inquired about the possibilities of peace between North and South Korea. Hu Yaobang shared the Chinese view on the subject with me. As I said, in mentioning the possibilities of resolving tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, in this instance too, it is essential for the top-ranking leaders of the two Koreas to come together in a summit conference. I am certain that this is what their peoples want and that such a meeting would have immeasurable significance for reducing the tension between them.
Though the Olympics have been made unstable because of excessive political influence, the 1988 Olympics in Seoul—the second Asian city after Tokyo ever to host the games—will be of no small importance. From ancient times, the Olympics have been regarded as a festival of peace, an opportunity for young people from all parts of the world to try their skills and abilities, and a gathering place for mutual exchanges among peoples. All of Asia will welcome the easing of tensions that can be generated by the Seoul Olympic Games, which I confidently trust will be important to peace throughout this part of the world.
Recognition of the vigor and vitality of the Asian nations and of their latent power has made current the idea of a coming Age of Asia and the Pacific and the concept of pan-Pacific cooperation. Twenty years ago, the gross national product (GNP) of Asia, including Japan, amounted to no more than one-tenth that of the world. Today, valued at two trillion dollars, it is twenty percent of the world total and is likely to grow more and more as we approach the end of the century. At present, interest in Asia is mainly economic, and in the future too the amount of trade conducted in this part of the world is likely to increase dynamically.
Deepening ties of economic cooperation and mutual interreliance throughout the area is in itself excellent. But, as history proves, when economic factors alone are taken into consideration, conflicts of interest produce friction among nations. When this happens, the idea of a Pacific Age will remain no more than pie in the sky. We Japanese must remember that, because of the horror of World War ll, many nations of Asia are deeply worried by the idea that Japan might once again become a great military power. Even though we have become an economic power, if we fail to take their fears on this issue into consideration, we will be unable to evaluate our role accurately.
Human relations and mutual respect among different cultures must be the basis on which the Pacific Age is built. This indeed will be its historical significance. In 1970, during our more than ten hours of dialogue and exchange, Richard E. Coudenhove-Kalergi, founder of the European Community, told me that Japan must first exert maximum effort for world peace and then work for the creation of the Pacific civilization of tomorrow. He added that he felt the world is now in a transitional phase and that Japan must take the leadership in the shift of emphasis from the Western civilization of Europe and the United States to a new civilization centered in the Pacific region. He further insisted that Japan has been given the important mission of leader and principal player in this transition.
On the basis of his own distinctive interpretation of history, the late Arnold J. Toynbee, with whom I spoke on close terms on several occasions, foresaw the coming of a Pacific Age and expressed opinions similar to those of Coudenhove-Kalergi. In my frank opinion, both of these men were groping for a way to explain the open and peaceful civilization that they envisioned as characteristic of the Pacific Age.
In December 1984, during discussions I was privileged to participate in, the Norwegian authority on peace research and the rector of the New Transnational University in Paris, John Galtung mentioned his particular interest in the role religion can play in bringing peace to the world today. As we talked of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Marxism, I suggested that, in connection with the human longing for peace, Buddhism, with its spiritual basis of compassion and tolerance and denial of war and violence, is especially valuable.
All three of these Western intellectuals—Coudenhove-Kalergi, Toynbee, and Galtung—demonstrated the greatest interest in the interior world of the oriental spiritual heritage. When, with the argument of force, the Europeans invaded and colonized in the nineteenth century, the nations of Asia were living in relative peace and respected each other's cultures. Asia gave wealth, art, and culture to Europe, whereas, from the age of the great navigators, Europe used force to victimize Asia. Today, when the limitations of the world's natural resources are evident and when peaceful coexistence is indispensable, Western intellectuals are becoming profoundly aware that peaceful coexistence should replace force and domination in order to save the world from the threatening crisis. The time has come to understand thoroughly that the approach to the creation of a Pacific, or an Asian, Age must not lean too far in the direction of politics, arms, or economics, but must instead include ample consideration of the Oriental spiritual world, which constitutes the wisdom of the Orient.
Sino-Japanese Amity Is Essential
My mentor and the second president of Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda, often expressed his belief that China would play an important role in future world history. He was deeply concerned about the welfare and happiness of the peoples of all Asian nations, most of which now have, or at one time had, connections with Buddhism, and publicly stated his interpretations of the Korean War, which was taking place at the time.
During my visit to China last year—when I had an opportunity to meet Deng Yinchao, widow of the late Premier Zhou Enlai—Wong Zhen, honorary president of the China-Japan Friendship Association, presented me with a copy of the Sutra of the Lotus of the Mystic Law. In expressing my personal thanks, I attempted to include some of Josei Toda's profound interest in China by saying, "Your country is our benefactor because it was through China that Buddhism reached Japan."
In many of my own writings I have dealt with Asia and with ways of making peace grow and thrive in our part of the world.
In September 1968, I proposed the restoration of diplomatic ties with China. At that time, both Japan and the United states regarded China with animosity. And, in this prevailing mood, China remained isolated from many countries. Nonetheless, I advocated the resumption of relations and on three occasions thereafter delivered addresses and greetings at Beijing and Fudan universities and spoke on, among other things, the contributions Chinese civilization can make to world peace.
In urging the restoration of diplomatic ties, I had in mind the peace and stability of an Asia, in the achievement of which the roles of both China and Japan are extremely great. My approach to the issue was this: first, China and Japan must establish enduring ties of amity, then, sharing the work with other Asian nations, the two of them must take the initiative in creating peace in Asia. Because this is my fundamental philosophy on the issue, though it may sound audacious, I was the early flag-bearer in restoring diplomatic ties between China and Japan. This was why I traveled to China on six occasions, exerting utmost efforts to promote friendly relations with leaders and ordinary people alike. Moreover, in connection with my desire for peace in Asia, I made several goodwill trip to the Soviet Union to establish amicable exchanges.
But peace must be absolutely unrelated to force, neither economic nor, much less, military. Peace hiding behind force is no peace at all. We must never forget that the other nations of Asia look with considerable mistrust on a very powerful China or a very powerful Japan, even though they both may strive to be peacemakers.
Last year, on a trip to China, I made a speech entitled "The Royal Road to Peace—A Personal Observation" at Beijing University. In it, I said, "If we take the overall view, we cannot fail to be strongly impressed by the way China has, on the whole, honored wen, or civil virtues, over wu, or military ones." And I observed that in the case of China, with the exception of certain atypical periods, attention to civil virtues and ideals has been the principal motivating force in the nation's history. Further, I tried to discover the force or strength that allows individuals or nations to control brute impulses and master and restrain disruptive instincts.
Of course, choices of leaders and people will determine the path China travels in the future. But, on the basis of my own encounters and experiences there, I can say that China is now engaged in changes and progress all undertaken with the twenty-first century in mind. It is my frank impression that, in order to feed its billion people, China must stimulate economic growth, and therefore, abandoning the great-nation posture, will pursue peace. Moreover, the Chinese realize that their modernization for the next century requires a peaceful international environment. It is because I prize their eagerness for peace and want to make it known to people everywhere that I have requested the leaders in Beijing to allow the showing of our exhibition entitled "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World" in their city. They have agreed.
The most historically significant aspect of the Asia-Pacific Age will be the way it abandons control by the power of authority and arms in favor of control by culture and humanity. Long ago, I defined culture as something that leads the masses to happiness without the use of authority or arms. Whether it is possible to make all concepts converge in agreement on this one point is the key to the creation of a new Asia-Pacific Age. The civilization of that age must be "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
It is impossible in this limited space to explain Japan fully in relation to the rest of Asia. Nevertheless, I should like to mention one point that my meetings with people in various Asian nations and my other experiences convinced me the Japanese must keep in mind. It may sound trite, but the point is this: understand the heart of Asia. Unless we Japanese understand how other Asian people feel and think, we cannot play the role we must in making the twenty-first a better century. And this must begin with a recognition that all cultures—languages, life styles, customs, histories, traditions, and so on— are on a footing of perfect equality. A feeling of oneness and trust is born from mutual respect for each other's cultures and from sincere, open exchanges among hearts and minds.
Exchanges in Education and Culture
All cultures have different histories and have developed in distinctive ways. Our understanding of another culture is in most cases superficial. To understand the complexities behind what we know of other cultures requires a kind of compound eye making possible a wide, inclusive view of many factors and the willingness always to put oneself in the other party's position.
My own travels throughout the world have convinced me that, as long as this attitude is assumed, it is possible to find things in common with all peoples everywhere. This is why, recognizing the great importance of exchanges in learning, culture, and education, I have engaged in open discussions transcending national boundaries with many different peoples of many different historical backgrounds and various manners and mores. Unfortunately, however, although Japan is an economic power, the Japanese themselves are little respected in this part of the world because too many of them fail to understand the mind and hearts of other Asian peoples.
Though I speak in terms of Asia, the region is actually composed of extremely diverse and varied component nations and peoples with many different problems that cannot all be resolved in one way. Each nation has its own difficult decisions to make. Each has its own coordinates of internal development and growth, and it is perilous to try to set one model for all.
In an earlier work, I said that I felt peace and prosperity in Asia depended on the interrelations between tradition and modernization. In April of last year, Natth Bamarapravati, rector of Mahidol University in Thailand, visited Taiseki-ji, the head temple of Nichiren Shoshu, and expressed the opinion that Soka Gakkai has succeeded and grown because of the way in which it has been able to harmonize Buddhism and modernism. In our subsequent discussion of modernization and tradition in general, I said I felt tradition should be a light shining within the process of modernization and that, to enable it to serve this purpose, international exchanges are extremely important. I am fully aware of the danger of trying to impose a model of modernization on development in all Asian nations. Resting largely on heavy and chemical industries, the modernization of Western nations does not necessarily fit the diversify and variety of the Asian scene. All Asian nations now face the problem of reconciling tradition with modernization. Japan's trial-and-error struggle with this same issue since the middle of the nineteenth century has produced both good and bad results. But the Japanese experience can be of considerable instructive value to other nations.
Of course, other Asian nations place great expectations on Japanese economic power. But, in the future, instead of limiting ourselves to cooperation in the field of economy or to exchanges and transferrals of technology alone, we must institute a free, open, multilevel system of cooperation extending to cultural and educational fields and centering on the training of the best possible personnel. This will make economic cooperation all the more effective. In the past, I have traveled throughout the region making private-level exchanges on education and culture with leaders and with ordinary citizens. In the future, I intend to expand these efforts still further in the hope of acquiring an even deeper understanding of the way the minds and hearts of other Asian peoples work.
I am happy to say that yearly the numbers of students from other parts of Asia who attend Soka University—an institution founded on the spirit of the slogan "Be a fortress protecting the peace of humanity"—increase. I have expressed to the university authorities my desire that as many as possible of the members of the generations who must bear the responsibility of the future come to our country, learn something about Japan, and return to become leaders in their own nations.
Nothing inspires as much hope for the future peace and prosperity of Asia as exchange among the young people of today. Perhaps my generation cannot achieve the goal, but we hope to pass on the will to attain it to those who come after us. We are now preparing to open the Soka University campus in San Diego, California, and have already opened the Soka University European Linguistic Center near Paris. For the sake of the future, I propose building a similar Soka University branch somewhere in Asia where young people from other Asian lands may study the Japanese language and culture and where Japanese students may do research on other regions. I believe such an institution would truly be a cultural fortress protecting the peace of Asia.
Beginning in the summer of last year, the music-promotion organization known as the Min-On Concert Association (Min-On) initiated a series called "A Musical Voyage Along the Marine Road," which is highly interesting in that it promotes cultural exchange, introduces the music and dance of Southeast Asia, and attempts to trace the influences on Japanese culture of civilizations along the marine route that was once as important a sea route linking the nations of Southern Asia as the Silk Road was a land route. The first in the series was "Brilliant Dances from Thailand and Okinawa."
This year has witnessed the fourth in Min-On's series "A Musical Voyage Along the Silk Road," which featured a joint performance by representatives of China, the Soviet Union, Turkey, and Japan. The gathering and performing together in Japan of musicians and dancers from these countries was an event of great significance. To date, ten nations have cooperated by allowing research teams to investigate their music and by sending performers to Japan for the Silk Road series: China, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Iraq, Afghanistan, Rumania, the Soviet Union, and Turkey.
In 1975,in a commemorative address entitled "A New Road to East-West Cultural Exchanges," which I delivered at Moscow State University, I said, "At no time in history has there been so great a need as there is now for a spiritual Silk Road, extending through all the cultural spheres of the globe, transcending national and ideological barriers, and binding together all peoples at the basic level." In that address, I further expressed a wish for a new spiritual Silk Road binding together not only East and West, but also North and South. I am delighted that, though on a small scale, Min-On is doing something to make that wish come true.
The Cultural Richness and Diversity of the World
At present, in economic terms, the world is roughly divided into the industrialized North and the developing South. But this division does not necessarily accurately reflect cultural superiority and inferiority. Among the developing nations are those whose cultural achievements rank among the most important aspects of the heritage of all humanity. In terms, not of economy alone, but of such things as art and literature, the world is astonishingly diverse and much too complex and rich to be divided simply into North and South.
True cultural exchanges stimulate mutual respect among peoples of different races and cultural backgrounds and create ties of peace among the hearts of human beings. As its founder, I hope Min-On will further advance its work in cultural and artistic exchanges and in this way set up a milestone on the road to the creation of a world without war.
There can be no lasting peace in Asia unless the people of each Asian nation independently assure their own individual peace and prosperity. But Asian problems cannot be solved outside a frame of reference including Europe and all other regions of the globe. Furthermore, for the sake of finding solutions to the problems facing humanity, the ordinary peoples of all nations must unite in a spontaneous, dynamic movement that will ultimately result in a green and flowering path of peace extending from Asia to the whole world. Only fifteen years remain until the year 2000. Twice in the first half of this century, the nations of the world have experienced the tragedy of global war and still have not shaken off the curse of conflict and distrust. The time has come for all peoples to pool their strength and change the current from one of fear and conflict to one of mutual understanding, trust, and peace.
Daisaku Ikeda - January 26, 1985
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.
Home | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995 | 1994 | 1993 | 1992 1991 | 1990 | 1989 | 1988 | 1987 | 1986 | 1985 | 1984 |1983
This web site has been published by Ted Penfold (SGI-UK), with the unstinting support of BJ French (SGI-USA). The contents are solely the responsibility of Ted Penfold and are for educational use only. The copyright remains the property of the Copyright holders.
Any comments are welcome and are to be sent to Ted Penfold.