Welcome to the

President of Soka Gakkai International,

Daisaku Ikeda's

Peace Proposal 1988

Cultural Understanding and Disarmament: The Building Blocks of World Peace

Presented on the occasion of the SGI's 13th anniversary in the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai newspaper, January 26, 1988

Today, the world is seeking for a system for global coexistence and prosperity in a new dimension, and I cannot but feel that we are now approaching a crucial juncture. Pondering the current world situation, I am reminded of something the late premier of China, Zhou Enlai, once said to me. He said that the final quarter of the 20th century will be the most momentous epoch the world has ever seen. Remembering these words, I feel certain that in many ways 1988 will be an extremely important year for all humankind.

At the end of last year, we witnessed one of the most profound directional changes in the march of political events since the Second World War. This was the signing, at the U.S.-Soviet summit held in Washington, of the INF treaty, designed to abolish intermediate-range nuclear forces. Last year also marked the thirtieth anniversary of the year when our great mentor and second president of the Soka Gakkai. Josei Toda, issued his Declaration on Abolishing Nuclear Arms. This document called for the young generations of the world to campaign for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Toda was a man with a clear vision of the diabolical nature of nuclear arms, and I myself have stressed for more than a decade the indispensability of U S.-Soviet summit meetings held for the purpose of ridding the world of the nuclear threat. With the historic signing last year of the INF treaty, I felt as though I had caught a glimpse of the gears that drive the forces of epochal change.

Of course, the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear weapons does not necessarily mean that the superpowers will pursue further arms reductions, or that the current of world history will turn toward lasting peace. We shall still have to keep a close watch on the course of U.S.-Soviet relations in the years to come. Nevertheless, it is evident that the people of the world saw in the U.S.-Soviet dialogue at last year's summit a shining ray of hope unlike anything we have seen thus far.

In their message to the world issued following the ceremony marking the signing of the INF treaty, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, in describing the circumstances leading up to the historic agreement, quoted the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's observation: "The strongest of all warriors are those two, Time and Patience." In turn, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, spoke of his own determination to reduce nuclear armaments, borrowing a line from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." (I cannot resist the impulse to say here that I was especially struck by the inclusion of these words in the two leaders' speeches because Tolstoy and Emerson are two of the authors I have most loved and revered since my youth.)

This sensitivity to the wise words of great men from the culture of the country across the negotiating table clearly indicates that the dialogue between these world leaders has moved beyond mere diplomatic rhetoric; it suggests a change in their patterns of thinking. Additional signs of such change may be seen in President Reagan's statement that "for the first time in history the language of arms control was replaced by arms reduction…this required a dramatic shift in thinking," and in General Secretary Gorbachev's comment about the triumph of common sense.

This year. all the world will be watching to see whether or not the treaty reducing the strategic nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union by fifty percent will actually be concluded. Each move on the part of these two leaders will be carefully monitored. We earnestly hope that they will not betray the hopes of the peoples of the world, but will resolutely and unwaveringly pursue the course of patience and dialogue that has now been established, and make the wisest decision from the viewpoint of the entire human race.

Although the path toward complete disarmament may be tortuous, the prospects are bright as long as we continue on this course. This year, with the 21st century rapidly approaching, I myself will do whatever I can to advance the popular cause of peace, to help swell the trickle of hope for peace and arms reduction into a mighty river. Our goal is an arch of triumph that symbolizes the victory of culture over politics, of the human spirit over force or arms, and of human beings over nations; this goal lies far ahead along the road to the new century.

Cultural Exchange

The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) now has members in 115 countries. Its members in every part of the world are committed to opposing war and all other forms of violence and to working toward global prosperity and the happiness of the human race. They lead sober and honest lives as good citizens of their respective nations. With the devoted support and assistance of these kindred souls throughout the world, I have been able to pour all my energies into my journeys to bring our message of peace to ever-larger numbers of people. It is my steadfast conviction that through person-to-person exchange, with culture and education at its core, we can lay the foundations for peace. My upcoming visit to Southeast Asia is for exactly this purpose. I also hope, during the years ahead, to retrace the paths I have already trod in Europe, the United States, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and elsewhere.

Still, I believe this will be a year during which Asia will be the focus of attention. It is now certain that almost every nation in the world will participate in the Seoul Olympics, which promises to be the most glorious celebration of humanity held yet. The global trend toward relaxation of tensions ensuing from the successful dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union bespeaks the coming of a new age.

In my proposals on the occasion of Soka Gakkai International Day in 1985 and 1986, I touched upon the issue of the partition of the Korean Peninsula and repeatedly stressed the urgent necessity of talks between the chief executives of the two Koreas [the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. Today, even more than before, I believe this issue to be of tremendous importance, not only to Asia, but to world peace as well. We pray that the Korean Peninsula, buffeted by the capricious gales of international politic s, with its earth stained by the blood of battle, will become a land of everlasting peace. It is my firm belief that the people who have suffered through the devastation of war and the anguish of separation have a right to the greatest happiness life has to offer. It is the natural hope of all people that the Seoul Olympics will be, in the true tradition of the Games, a festival of peace, serving to promote the stable development of the Korean Peninsula as a whole. And as a citizen of Asia and a Buddhist who has long prayed for peace and stability in the region, I look forward to this year's successful holding of the Seoul Olympics with intense anticipation. It goes without saying that Buddhism is a religious tradition deeply rooted in Asia I know that our revered teacher Josei Toda constantly prayed for the happiness of the peoples of Asia. His example kindled in me a deep affection for and concern with the problems of our fellow Asians. This sense of kinship has inspired my various efforts to promote contact and exchange among the peoples of Asia. In addition, I have had heart-to-heart talks with leaders and ambassadors to Japan of many Asian countries on the question of Asia's most urgent needs. In these discussions, one topic that virtually always arises is the importance of educational and cultural exchange.

As the founder of Soka University, I have devoted a great deal of energy over the years to the promotion of educational exchange. Soka University today conducts exchange programs with fifteen universities in eleven countries around the world. In previous years I have visited a number of institutions of higher education in Asia, including the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Beijing University, Fudan University, and Wuhan University in the People s Republic of China; and the University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Rabindra Bharati University in India. This year, I plan to visit the University of Hong Kong, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, the University of Malaya in Malaysia, and the National University of Singapore, among others, in an endeavor to broaden the circle of educational exchange through such means as the donation of books. The Min-On Concert Association, a society whose purpose is to make all kinds of music more accessible, was founded out of my concern with the need for increased cultural exchange among the different countries in Asia. Thus far, through the "Musical Voyage of the Silk Road" and "Musical Voyage of the Marine Road" series and public performances of the Thai classical dance drama Manohra (staged to commemorate the centennial of Thai-Japanese relations), and of national folk dance groups and royal singing and dancing ensembles of various Asian countries, the association has fostered lively cultural exchange with China, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. During my visit to Southeast Asia this year. I hope to encourage cultural exchange with Malaysia and other countries.

Why do I place so much emphasis on educational and cultural exchange? It is because 1 have realized that there has never been a time when it was more important to promote heart-to-heart exchange with the peoples of Asia and strengthen the bonds that exist between us. There is no more realistic approach to gaining an understanding of the Asian heart and mind than through educational and cultural exchange.

I have long maintained that cultural exchange must reach out to touch the very heartstrings of disparate peoples in order to strike the chords of sympathy that will promote closer and more harmonious relations. As I have said before, to achieve this it is imperative that such exchange be governed by the principles of reciprocity and equality. Unidirectional transfer of culture from one people to another can plant the prickly seeds of arrogance in the hearts of the transmitters while engendering servility and hatred among the recipients.

On this occasion, I would like to briefly discuss the ideals of cultural exchange, adding to the previously mentioned principles of reciprocity and equality a third that I shall call "gradualism."

I am well aware that the more genuinely and the more frequently that cultural exchange takes place, the more problems emerge. When two cultures based on different value systems meet, they are bound to stimulate each other toward mutual growth. Nevertheless, it is also inevitable that each side will strongly resist infiltration by the other's seemingly alien value system Therefore, cultural exchange generates friction at the same time that it releases new creative energy. There is a clear example of this in the process whereby elements of Western culture have permeated modern life in Japan. It is well known that the gaps that exist between the value systems of their respective cultures are at the root of the trade friction Japan has recently experienced with Europe and the United States.

Professor Leon Vandermeersch of the University of Paris has aptly described the difficulties of intercultural contact from the viewpoint of the West. He emphasizes the need for true dialogue between the different cultures and worlds. This need, according to Vandermeersch, is widely recognized in the West; nevertheless, he says, a kind of frustration is developing as well. This frustration can turn into anger when cultural differences threaten the dominant Western position. He writes, "We can readily accept ritual cannibalism among the aborigines of New Guinea, but cannot stand the idea of the Japanese taking only one week of vacation per year."

Cultural exchange calls for gradual progress, as well as reciprocity and equality. Certainly, as the modern experience of Japan has shown, there are some aspects of foreign cultures — such as science and technology — that can be adopted almost immediately, regardless of whether or not these particular aspects are beneficial. But this is not true of cultures in their entirety. Efforts to forcibly and speedily impose a whole new culture on a people are sure to cause fractures or fissures in the structure of society, which could even set off a war Introducing elements of another culture is difficult, and this ;s why it is necessary to take plenty of time and to proceed gradually, aiming for mutual understanding and a two-way sharing of culture. I believe that only this kind of cultural exchange can promote peace and bring about a fruitful situation in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee, a renowned authority on the history of world civilization, clearly uses the metaphor of light diffraction through a prism to illustrate the way elements of foreign culture filter into a society. If the culture exported by one country is the ray of light, then the prism is resistance in the recipient country, and the bands of the spectrum formed through diffraction are the various aspects — political, economic, technological, educational, artistic, religious, etc. — of the importing nation's indigenous culture. According to Dr. Toynbee, a foreign culture is never assimilated all at once since each band of the "spectrum" offers a different degree of resistance, creating time lags in reception in some sectors. Minor elements of a culture are readily accepted, but resistance to aspects of a foreign culture that are linked to basic values is strong. Again, I reiterate, cultural exchange must be based upon the principles of reciprocity, equality, and gradualism. We can be certain that from now on exchange among different cultures will rapidly expand because of the development of advanced information processing technology and of the communications media. Indeed, such exchange will be indispensable in the process of creating the systems necessary to integrate every part of the world into a new global order. If this goal is to be achieved cultural exchange must proceed in a constructive, creative direction; it must at all costs avoid the kind of exchange, seen more than once in the past, that causes friction and disruption.

I have repeatedly underscored this point because of the kind of backlash against cultural relativism that we can observe in the world today. Cultural relativism rejects the view that a civilization based on modern European values is absolute and universal, and accords equal value to all the cultures of the world. This new view is one of the major trends of this century, during which the monistic world view that placed Europe and the United States at the center of human affairs broke down, this change has sped up since the First World War, as a result of the pioneering achievements of cultural anthropology and other fields of scientific research. The 20th century has brought to light the positive aspects of the "primitive," as well as a new appreciation of the inner world of children and of the nature of the subconscious; this may be due to our acquiring a kind of clear-sighted, straightforward approach to history, whereby it is recognized that cultures once considered "barbaric" or backward actually have their own intrinsic value and significance.

Recently, however, the view has begun to gain currency that this relativistic approach to culture has deprived Westerners of their self-confidence and even caused moral decay. One symptom of this trend is the nostalgic longing for a time when the superiority of their cultures was not challenged; such a trend is clearly retrogressive. We cannot expect to judge culture, which is directly connected with people's ways of life, in terms of such monistic, materialistic standards as the amount of wealth or level of modernization, it is inevitable that any school of thought that shows an inclination to regress to such a sense of values should be branded as anachronistic.

The second reason I call for reciprocity, equality and gradualism in cultural exchange is because in the past the principles that governed modern Japanese foreign policy — in particular, that toward Asia before the Pacific War — have been the diametrical opposite. Japan's campaign to force the Koreans to take Japanese names and to adopt Japanese as their national language during the period of Japanese military expansion on the Asian continent was tantamount to an attempt to destroy the indigenous culture. This behavior, probably arising from complete ignorance of the nature of culture and how it is formed, planted in the hearts of the Koreans the seeds of a deep bitterness and resentment toward Japan, which even today have not been completely rooted out. Needless to say, such enforced compliance with the ways of another culture is the antithesis of genuine cultural exchange.

In Southeast Asia as well, Japan committed many similar acts of cultural violence against the nations it occupied. It is not surprising, in view of this history, that the peoples of Asia, while they may be amazed at and admiring of Japan's success in modernization, inevitably, in some respects. have a negative image of the Japanese.

Unfortunately, the attitude on the part of some Japanese of cultural superiority over other Asians is not completely a thing of the past. Even today, the level of interest in and concern for Asia and its many cultures remains deplorably low among Japanese. Japanese cultural exchange programs, especially in the field of education, still emphasize contact with Europe rather than with the rest of Asia, a bias that dates back to the Meiji era (1868-1912) .

Loke Pooi-Choon, a prominent Singaporean journalist, has written that the people of his country view Japan, culturally and economically, as "near yet far." He asserts that because Singapore was forced into involvement with Japan during the war, its people have had no choice but to be concerned about what the Japanese do. It is amazing, he declares, that the Japanese, who might be expected to feel that their fate depends on how well they can get along with the rest of the Asian region, are so ignorant of and unconcerned about their Asian neighbors.

We cannot afford to dismiss this reprimand as the personal opinion of a single journalist. We must not forget that deep down many of the peoples of Asia have a similar kind of mixed feeling about Japan.

I am deeply concerned about the emergence of a phenomenon that international affairs expert Masao Kunihiro terms the "Japan As No. 1 Syndrome" — the arrogant notion that Japan no longer has anything to learn from foreign countries — that has begun to gain ground as Japan has consolidated its position as an economic superpower in recent years. I am much distressed by the many instances we see in which Japanese display contempt for other Asians in both speech and behavior; it reveals a grievous want of knowledge about and understanding of Asia.

These days there is much discussion of the role Japan should play as an "international power." I believe that if Japan aspires to become truly international, it must begin by changing its perception of Asia and by seriously considering what it can do, as a member of the Asian family of nations, to promote the prosperity of the whole region.

This January, the SGI, in cooperation with the United Nations and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opened the "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World" exhibition in Bangkok. I was keenly aware of the fact that it was the first full-scale exhibition on the nuclear holocaust ever held in Southeast Asia; therefore I encouraged those Thai people who had eagerly desired to hold the exhibition in their country to do their best.

Up until now, the people of Southeast Asia have been largely indifferent to Japan's "No More Hiroshimas" appeals. During the Second World War, Japan committed many atrocities against the people of Southeast Asia. We know we shall never be able to convince Southeast Asians of the horrors of nuclear war if we allow ourselves to forget the suffering they experienced during the Pacific War; we need to seriously reflect upon our own loathsome deeds of the past. On the other hand, the advent of nuclear weapons and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were apocalyptic events in the history of humankind, and when I consider the significance of the term "nuclear age" in a world inhabited by many young persons who have never known war, I feel even more strongly the urgent call to build a new age of peace in Asia.

In preparation for the 21st century, I would like to urge the young people of the world, who will hereafter carry on the responsibility for cultural and educational exchange, to engage in livelier exchange with their peers in other countries.

This past January 7, I was honored to receive the Dr. G. Ramachandran Award for International Understanding in a special ceremony held in India, the birthplace of Buddhism. I was deeply moved by Dr. Ramachandran's statement on this occasion that the youth movement against violence is the challenge of this century.

We have all along striven to actively encourage the admission of foreign students — especially those from the countries of Asia — at Soka University and other institutions of higher learning, but hereafter I would like to do even more to facilitate acceptance of such students while appealing to private institutions as well as to government agencies in various countries to promote a broad international exchange of youth, with an eye to the needs of the 21st century.

Promising Future of the Asia-Pacific Region

Recently, the vigorous economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region has attracted global attention. In the Asian region alone, it is now clear that the sustained growth of the ASEAN nations and the Asian NICs (newly industrializing countries), such as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong. and Singapore, as well as that of Japan, will form a major force in the world economy in the years to come.

The economic growth of this region in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980 has been prodigious. In real GNP, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore have posted annual growth rates of over eight to nine percent throughout the period. It is predicted that if growth continues at this pace, the Southeast Asian region will become the world's most efficient production base, as well as the core from which the global economy will be revitalized, sometime in the 21st century. Some economists even forecast that Japan, Taiwan and South Korea alone will account for about 20 percent of world GNP by the beginning of the next century.

Of course, economic phenomena are only one dimension of human life. We must be mindful that the upsurge among Asian countries in economic terms is but one manifestation of the vitality of their cultures. It is but the tiny visible tip of a deep and vast cultural iceberg.

Even the rise of modern capitalism in Europe, as explained in the classic analyses of Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) and Richard Henry Tawney (Religion and the Rise of Capitalism), was not simply an economic phenomenon, it also had great implications as a cultural phenomenon. People point to material satisfaction as a motive force in modern capitalist societies; economic phenomena are, indeed, a part of human affairs. They are but one aspect of culture as a whole and, as such, however distorted they may be, they remain inseparable from human life and the human society that engendered them.

If we are to try to treat the economic development of Japan, ASEAN, and the Asian NICs as a cultural phenomenon, we first need to gain a multidimensional, intrinsic grasp of the indigenous cultures of the Asian societies in question. It is clear that "Oriental wisdom," unobtrusive but exerting inestimable influence, which Carl Gustav Jung predicted would soon enter its heyday, is behind this recent economic upsurge, although we must be careful as to how we identify this wisdom.

Recently there has been much discussion in the media and elsewhere of the vitality of the "Chinese-ideogram culture," or the "Confucian culture." These terms are being very carelessly applied, however, and should not be construed literally to mean those areas where Chinese ideograms are used or where Confucian teachings prevail. indeed, the traditional political systems and political philosophies based on Confucianism have all but died out. In the preface of the much-discussed Le Nouveau Monde Sinise, which came out in Japanese translation last year, author Professor Vandermeersch, who seeks a reappraisal of Western European culture, stated that the book aimed to carry out a fundamental and comprehensive reexamination of the dynamic of the Chinese-ideogram cultural sphere, which is quite distinct from that of the Western European cultural sphere, and to expose the pernicious tendencies of the ultraindividualism of Western European society. As Vandermeersch points out, it seems that it is not the specific institutions and doctrines of the Orient, but rather an intuitive sense of order that remains even after these institutions and doctrines have ceased to exert influence — a sense of order that could help correct the ultra-individualism of Europe — that is attracting attention these days.

I believe that this sense of order is not strictly Confucian, but can be characterized as something broader — something "Eastern," as Jung would put it. Furthermore, I have a feeling that this sense of order is ultimately related to the concept of en (the interrelatedness of all phenomena) as expounded in Buddhism. But as I stated earlier, I would like to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions on these issues, preferring to take a broader, mole long-range approach.

Here I would like to define the nature of the "logic" that is an integral part of modern European civilization, and by projecting it in reverse so to speak, outline what the Orient, Asia, and things Oriental have to offer for the future of humankind.

In my proposal issued on the occasion of SGI Day two years ago, I spoke of European civilization — especially that of the modern age — and the immensity of its greed and ambition, quoting Paul Valéry. Let us now take a closer look at Valéry's views on Western civilization.

Wherever the "European spirit" reigns, there are, according to Valéry, all sorts of maximums: a maximum of greed, a maximum of work, a maximum of capital, a maximum of productive efficiency, a maximum of ambition, a maximum of power, a maximum of human alteration of the external natural environment, and a maximum of trade and bargaining. All of these maximums put together are Europe, or, we can say, one aspect of Europe.

Valéry employs the wonderfully condensed expressions of an outstanding writer. Maximums…it is, to be sure, a characteristic of modern European civilization that, for better or worse, the greed and ambition of human beings have been allowed to expand at will — no, rather, to over-expand without limit.

Incidentally, Valéry's term "maximum" contains a metaphor-like symbolic reverberation. Even though human beings have differing amounts of physical strength, you are unlikely to come across anyone who is several hundred times stronger than somebody else. And when it comes to human needs (those stemming from desire and will), the differences among people are insignificant. However strong a person's desires may be, they will always be limited, and the things he pursues will all, eventually, pall. This is the nature of man; we feel in such limitations the warmth and scent of humanity. European modernity, however, has broken through the boundaries of sensitivity and instinct, and lured people toward the "maximum" by bringing them under its spell. At times, this power to fascinate has become like wings of gold that seem to speed people toward the pinnacle of something very grand; on other occasions, it has cast them into the abyss of baseness, without their even realizing it. In this sense, the attraction of Western ways can be likened to the glare of the Medusa that turns to stone all who set eyes on her.

That power is described, in somewhat enigmatic fashion, by the main character in British writer Joseph Conrad's autobiographical novel Heart of Darkness. In the following passage, he asks himself why the European ivory merchants feel no shame at exploiting the black man:

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to….

It is easy to see that behind this "idea" lies a doctrine that teaches that it is possible and proper to draw distinctions between fellow humans and between human beings and other animals. Although it may seem paradoxical that the propagation of Christianity and colonialization should have proceeded along parallel courses as partners in a "three-legged race," as it were, it makes sense if you view both as the expansion of greed and ambition striving to reach their "maximum."

One person who took a well-balanced approach to analyzing the merits and demerits of modern European society was the German sociologist Eduard Heimann. Heimann passed away some 20 years ago, but his macroscopic view of history is still compared to Karl Marx's and Joseph Alois Schumpeter's analyses of social dynamics.

In his last work, The Fate of the Modern Age, Heimann labels modern European society as a Wirtschaftssystem (economist system) and, like Valéry, uses a single word — in this case, "expansion" — to characterize it. He maintains that the surpluses resulting from economic growth are not turned to any purpose but capital accumulation. This, he explains, is because there is no other way to expand the system but through accumulation, and accumulation has no goal other than expansion.

Heimann asserted that this Wirtschaftssystem was most effective in checking hunger, sickness, and the persistent efforts of death to claim the weak, but that it was not a normal state of affairs. In other words, it was not a permanent framework for the growth, development and improvement of life. It was, rather, a movement propelled by people's obsession with the expansion of production, which ended up causing the sacrifice of the quality of life. The logic inherent in the system not only provided its objective raison d'être, but also threatened to carry it beyond its boundaries, making it absolute and limitless. In other words, it possessed an internal dynamic with no direction that has begun to run rampant.

Heimann's analysis, considered in conjunction with the views of Valéry and Conrad, gives a very clear picture of the characteristics — both positive and negative — of European modernity. And, having taken a hard look at these merits and demerits, Heimann came to the conclusion that his Wirtschaftssystem was a most effective detour, which would eventually lead back to the main road. He considered the Wirtschaftssystem of the modern age a "detour" or roundabout route because it was not the normal state of human society, deeming it a necessary evil by virtue of its extreme effectiveness in the struggle against hunger, sickness and premature death.

A quarter century has passed since Heimann published The Fate of the Modern Age, but the problem of how to correct this distortion — the negative side of the legacy of the "expansion" and "maximums" of which he and Valéry wrote — is becoming more and more urgent. In short, what is needed is a restoration of full humanity in life and society. This task concerns not only Asia, but all of humanity, and there has yet to emerge a unified approach to the problem. I proposed the founding of the Asia-Pacific Organization for Peace and Culture (APOPAC) the year before last because I believe that we must make a concerted, all-embracing effort to grapple with a task of such historical gravity. This year the SGI will hold the Ninth World Peace Youth Culture Festival in Hong Kong. This celebration is sure to be meaningful in that it will draw attention to the way the Asian region is making a new leap forward in these last years of the twentieth century. This youth festival will focus on the age of Asia and the Pacific.

Up until now, it has been difficult for Asia as a whole to develop in a unified fashion because of its great racial, religious and cultural diversity. The idea for this festival grew out of much reflection on the problem of how it would be possible to promote the overall, harmonious development of Asia in a way that would fuse tradition and modernization, and achieve harmony in diversity.

The Asia-Pacific Organization for Peace and Culture would aim to create a permanent apparatus in Asia that would serve as a base from which to promote new growth and prosperity in the Asian region. To begin with, it would probably take the form of a council, comprised of representatives of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, that would meet periodically to discuss various issues — chiefly peace, arms reductions, economic development, and culture. In time, when the necessary arrangements have been made and the conditions are right, I should like to see it become a permanent deliberative body. As I stated two years ago, I think it would be wise to take a flexible approach to the development of this organization, beginning with what can readily be achieved, and moving ahead gradually, with the ultimate goal of creating a permanent vehicle for discussion based on mutual trust. The conditions and environment of the Asia-Pacific region and Europe are completely different, and this makes it impossible to discuss the two in identical terms. However. I would like to call attention to the fact that Europe has succeeded in developing as a discrete region largely thanks to the existence of the European Community (EC).

The efficacy of this organization in terms of keeping the peace is obvious: there have been no instances of armed conflict or aggression within the EC since its inception a quarter of a century ago. When we consider the many wars and disputes that have broken out in other parts of the world during this period, we must conclude that we have much to learn from the example set by the EC.

Relevant to the issue of keeping the peace is the Asian nuclear-free zone initiative. As is well known, the idea of a Southeast Asia Nuclear-Free Zone was discussed at the summit of ASEAN leaders in December last year. The summit decided that it was too early to begin preparations for concluding a Southeast Asia Nonnuclear Treaty, and this was put off until some time in the future. However, a draft agreement on a non-nuclear declaration encompassing all of Southeast Asia has already been completed.

In the Asia-Pacific region, there is already a South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty, signed in I985 on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, by 11 countries and two dominions. The nuclear-free declaration pact of Southeast Asia is said to be almost the same as the South Pacific treaty. A plan is also under way to make the Korean Peninsula a nuclear-free zone. If such zones are linked to one another, it will contribute tremendously to easing tensions in the whole of Asiz. It is my long-cherished wish to see Asia free from nuclear weapons, and to do all that can be and should be done to make Asia a nuclear-free region The Asia-Pacific Organization for Peace and Culture that I have proposed would serve as a forum where representatives from all countries concerned can discuss security and other common issues and search for ways to prevent war and promote peaceful coexistence and mutual growth. The existence of such an organization could make a lot of difference in the speed at which Asia can become a peaceful and prosperous region.

One critical area to consider in the peace and stability of Asia as a whole is Cambodia. Let me take this opportunity to talk about the Cambodian issue. In January 1979 the Pol Pot regime fell, and the People's Republic of Kampuchea was established under the Heng Samrin government.

As an Asian, nothing pains me more acutely than Cambodia's long postwar history of suffering and tragedy. Even today, the conflict is continuing between the government of President Heng Samrin and the Democratic Kampuchea Coalition Government, which was formed in July 1982 among the forces of Pol Pot, former president Prince Norodom Sihanouk and former prime minister Son Sann. It is tragic that so many people died in Cambodia as a result of extreme policies. The advance of Vietnamese troops into the country led to the emigration of many refugees.

It was good news that Prince Sihanouk of the Democratic Kampuchea Coalition Government and Hun Sen, prime minister of the People's Republic of Kampuchea, met (for the first time in nine years) in a suburb of Paris in December last year. They met and talked as private citizens, but the two men sitting at the same table was, in itself, an epochal event. I was especially impressed that Prince Sihanouk went so far as to take a leave of absence from the presidency in September 1987 in order to meet Hun in his capacity as a private citizen. I met Prince Sihanouk informally in Beijing in April I975 at the time of the Lon Nol government collapse, which put an end to the five-year-long Cambodian civil war. We talked mainly about the future of Cambodia, its political structure, and current global problems. These memories make me all the more deeply concerned about the Cambodian situation.

The Cambodian problem should, of course, ultimately be settled by Cambodians using their own judgment, and I have no intention at all of interfering. However, from the humanitarian point of view, I cannot be indifferent to the Cambodian problem. We at the SGI have shown our concern in concrete ways by extending our support to the activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Be that as it may, a summit dialogue between the leaders of opposing factions in Cambodia in search of a national reconciliation is most welcome. What hinders progress in solving the Cambodian problem is, more than anything else, deeply rooted mutual distrust. Continued and candid talks between leaders of the opposing forces can lead to a point of compromise, and from there domestic problems can be approached. My earnest wish is that distrust will be vanquished and trust nurtured through talks.

According to specialists, the cultural identity of the Cambodian people remains very strong; they yearn for national reconciliation. The environment for that to occur, moreover, is gradually maturing, with progress in the Washington-Moscow talks and the recent trend toward rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing. I sincerely hope that all nations will do whatever they can to help the Cambodian problem toward its solution, with top priority being given to the happiness of the Cambodian people.

Global Peace

Let us turn from regional (Asia-Pacific) issues to the global peace issue. At the end of May this year the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament (SSD III) will be held. Over the years, I have taken every possible opportunity to present proposals for disarmament, for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and for ways to create a war-free world. On the occasion of SSD I, held in I978, and of SSD II in I982, 1 submitted concrete proposals for disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons. In these proposals I have repeatedly stressed the role of the United Nations, for I believe that, in groping for a new order for world peace, there is no other way at the moment but to improve the security-keeping and other functions of the United Nations.

Appraisals of the past two special sessions of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament vary. Some are very critical of SSD II, saying that not a single rifle, not to mention nuclear weapons, was eliminated as a result. Of course, concrete evidence of disarmament is important, but I would like to call attention to the educational role the special sessions played in heightening global awareness of the menace of nuclear war and in fostering support for the elimination of nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the surge in worldwide public opinion on this matter had both a direct and an indirect impact in ultimately bringing about the historic signing of the INF treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of last year.

The timely convening of SSD III this year will certainly play a more important role. In my proposal on the occasion of SGI Day last year, I suggested that the year I988, when SSD III is to be held, be made an International Year of Disarmament (IYD) by a consensus of the United Nations. That was solely because I hoped that the year would bring us a real breakthrough in the worldwide movement toward disarmament on the eve of the twenty-first century. The signing of the INF treaty offers a good opportunity to make an International Year of Disarmament a reality. I propose that the IYD be the first year in a decade of peace and disarmament.

At the United Nations, a resolution for designating the 1970s a Decade of Disarmament, based on the proposal of UN Secretary-General U Thant, was adopted in I969. However, it failed to produce satisfactory results, as the final document approved at SSD I in I978 admits: "The Disarmament Decade solemnly declared in I969 by the United Nations is coming to an end. Unfortunately, the objectives established on the occasion by the General Assembly appear to be as far away today as they were then, or even further because the arms race is not diminishing but increasing and outstrips by far the efforts to curb it." The United Nations then decided to make the 1980s a second decade of disarmament, but up until the end of last year not much progress had been made toward that goal.

I believe it would be of great significance to set up a decade of peace and disarmament starting this year. Let us launch a decade that will finally bring the earnest prayer of the human race for disarmament onto the stage of reality.

The world economy today is very unstable, and its prospects look uncertain and gloomy. Many agree that increases in military expenditure prevent a healthy growth of the world economy.

The next decade is the absolutely crucial one leading up to the beginning of the 21st century. The year I988 should be the first year of disarmament, when the power of the people brings about a drastic shift from arms expansion to arms reduction. While global interdependence deepens, if all nations act in concert in reducing arms, the prospects of the global economy will certainly be brighter. It is from our wish to see the United Nations take the lead in this global disarmament campaign that I propose that this world body adopt a decade of peace and disarmament. The convening of SSD III provides a golden opportunity for this designation.

Needless to say, the United Nations is where sovereign states gather and debate international issues, but the question of arms reduction cannot be left to the deliberations of government representatives alone. World opinion on the level of the people must be rallied to the causes of arms reduction and peace. The role that non governmental organizations (NGOs) can play in this endeavor is very important. The success or failure of SSD III hinges on whether or not an effective network of world opinion can be formed.

The Soka Gakkai International, in cooperation with the United Nations, held the "Nuclear Weapons: Threat to Our World" exhibition in various parts of the world as part of the World Disarmament Campaign adopted at the Second Special Session of the UN General Assembly. This exhibition, held first at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and then in seventeen other cities in fifteen countries around the world — Geneva, Vienna, Paris, Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo, Bergen, West Berlin, Athens, Belgrade, Zagreb, New Delhi, Montreal, Toronto, Beijing, Moscow and Bangkok — drew considerable attention, and it was highly praised as a multimedia textbook for antinuclear and peace education.

For six years the "nuclear threat" exhibition has played a significant role in arousing global public opinion in support of the elimination of nuclear arsenals. However, the exhibition, having fulfilled its mission, will now be dismantled and replaced with a new type of movement, which will be more in tune with the new era to follow SSD III, calling for comprehensive disarmament and peace. The means to be adopted is now being studied by the Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference.

A main theme in nuclear arms reduction this year is a proposed fifty-percent cut in strategic nuclear weapons, as I said earlier. It will be the major focus of discussion at the U.S.-Soviet summit scheduled to be held in Moscow sometime between now and June. I sincerely hope that this meeting will bring about some real progress in the direction of a total ban on nuclear tests, as well as in negotiations to prohibit chemical weapons. Although we should not be overly optimistic, there is a likelihood of phased nuclear reductions toward total abolition. If the U.S.-Soviet relationship shifts from confrontation to a new mood of peaceful coexistence, world tensions will become markedly more relaxed.

Nevertheless, nuclear arms reduction is not enough to bring about global peace. Since the end of the Second World War, there have been a total of more than 150 wars and armed conflicts in the world, producing a greater aggregate amount of human sacrifice than that which took place during the Second World War. Conventional weapons have been used in all of these wars and conflicts. It is predicted that research in and development of conventional weapons, making full use of advanced technology, will only intensify.

It is very sad that the "logic of power" still holds sway in the realm of international politics. What is needed to counter such logic is a scheme to create a new order, a peaceful and stable international society, by rallying wisdom and public opinion from around the world The world is now in the midst of a transition of the greatest magnitude in human history.

Karl Jaspers, the German philosopher, called the period around 500 B.C., or between 800 and 200 B.C., a "pivotal age," emphasizing how important the time was in the history of humankind. For, during that period, there appeared a large number of outstanding religious and philosophical leaders who shine in world history: Shakyamuni, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Isaiah, Heraclitus, Plato, Archimedes and others. According to Jaspers, the human race has been sustained "up until now" by what was attained, created, and thought in that pivotal age. He characterized the age as one in which "man became aware of existence as a whole and of man himself and his limits." Jaspers defined such sweeping change in human existence as "spiritualization."

As I see it, the contemporary period is in a transition of equal significance; it is a "second pivotal age." What characterizes this period is the presence of nuclear weapons, which can annihilate the whole human race in an instant. It is an age when the entire Earth is in danger of extinction. With an apocalypse so close at hand, the peoples of the world have no choice but to think from a global point of view, to go beyond the boundaries of nation and race. Today a drastic change in perception is required of human beings. If the pivotal age of old was a period of individual consciousness of the self, the pivotal age of today may be one of individual consciousness of humanity, that is, an age in which individuals are compelled to awareness of the whole human race.

The reason I believe that we are at a great turning point in human history is because there are so many instances of intense confrontation on the stage of international politics between the individual's consciousness of the entire human race and the logic of sovereign states.

With the advent of nuclear weapons, the sovereign right to make war could well lead to the extinction of life on Earth. The peoples of the world, whether they want to or not, will have to extend their thinking beyond national borders, shifting in the framework of their perceptions from "national interests" to "human interests," from "national sovereignty" to ''human sovereignty." I believe this new, surging tide of history has already gained a momentum that cannot be checked.

The problem is how to introduce new behavioral norms in the arena of international politics and how to build a new international order that will make the tide even stronger and more constant. It is my plan to present a proposal to the United Nations, a kind of parliament of the human race. As I observe recent developments in international politics, I find signs of a gradual change in the absoluteness of traditional national sovereignty. One sign of this is the inclusion of clauses on verification inspection in the INF treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union. The surveillance stipulated there is the strictest in the history of U.S.-Soviet disarmament negotiations. Strict on-site surveillance means some infringement of national sovereignty, but the fact that the two countries agreed upon such surveillance is proof that they have concluded that as long as they cling to the pride and egoism of states, the nuclear issue will not be solved. Another encouraging sign is that U.S. and Soviet representatives recently visited each other's underground nuclear-testing sites to consider ways to improve underground nuclear-test surveillance and to find a way toward phased nuclear-test limitations talks. Further development of the recent trend may make it possible for the hard wall of the absoluteness of state sovereignty to crumble.

This is no longer a time when a sovereign state can unconditionally resort to arms as a natural right and plunge into war in order to protect its interests. The still-expanding ravages of modern war make it absolutely necessary that some restrictions be imposed on the unconditional exercise of sovereignty, that is, the unconditional use of armed force.

In 1928 the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy (Kellogg-Briand Pact) was concluded in Paris, a treaty renouncing war as a means of settling international disputes. The treaty is considered to be a denial of the justification and legitimacy of war as an institution. Specialists in law consider that the Kellogg-Briand Pact ushered in an era in which war could be condemned not only morally but legally, by establishing the idea that war is illegal from the point of view of international law.

Of course, it is easy to find fault with the pact. It has its imperfections, but subsequent developments in history show that the international environment and conditions at that time were not ripe for the treaty.

In my speech in commemoration of the Ninth SGI Day in I984, I urged that a Universal Declaration Renouncing War be drawn up as soon as possible. This plea came from my earnest wish that some restrictions be imposed on the right to war — long considered an unchallenged attribute of sovereign states. I proposed my idea for a Universal Declaration Renouncing War, though I was well aware that such a proposal might be criticized as being premature.

I am no specialist in the field of law and do not feel competent to open a discussion at this point on the rights and wrongs of so-called "wars of self-defense." It was my hope, at that time, that my deep concern for our world in the nuclear age and my desire, as a Buddhist, for the realization of a lasting peace would be conveyed in the proposal I made.

Sixty years have passed since the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The times have since changed greatly, and I am not the only one who feels that conditions in the world are ripe for a movement in support of a renunciation of war. The final document approved at the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament stated in part that the use of arms in international relations should be abandoned and that the time had come to seek security through arms reduction. That the document was approved unanimously by the members of the United Nations is of tremendous significance.

New times are coming, and it is imperative that we should change our old ways of thinking and that the power of the people be rallied to take the first step toward a new era of peace. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the Third UN General Assembly. To implement the declaration and make it legally binding, the United Nations later adopted the International Covenants on Human Rights so that the states that would become parties to the covenants would be required to adhere to them.

Following this precedent, I propose that the United Nations adopt a Universal Declaration Renouncing War and later draw up International Covenants on Renunciation of War, to be signed by each state. Ideally, this would lead to the establishment of regional antiwar pacts — such as a European antiwar pact, an Asian antiwar pact, an American antiwar pact, an African antiwar pact — each adapted to local conditions.

Some may think that worldwide renunciation of war is an impossible dream, but they must be reminded of the fact that only a quarter of a century ago, U.S. and Soviet representatives seriously talked at the United Nations about the possibility of eliminating all arms. At the Fourteenth UN General Assembly in I959 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev made a speech proposing the elimination of all weapons. The proposal included a detailed program for general and complete disarmament.

In the same year, the Eighty-two-Nation Joint Draft Resolution on General and Complete Disarmament was adopted unanimously at a plenary session of the UN General Assembly, calling for total and complete disarmament.

In 1961, the United States and the Soviet Union reached an agreement on the Eight Principles for Disarmament Negotiations, and both countries reported the results of the agreement to the UN General Assembly. In September, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made his first speech at the United Nations, presenting a new plan for eliminating arms, known as the Programme for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World.

In 1962, the two countries submitted the Draft Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament to the newly-established Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament, and there the drafts became the main topic of deliberation.

What actually developed, however, was an intense arms race between the United States and the Soviet union. Now that the world is about to enter a new era of arms reduction, it once again should start afresh, returning to the original spirit of disarmament.

I propose that the International Covenants on Human Rights and the International Covenants on Renunciation of War be made the two main pillars to sustain humankind in the 21st century. There should be a plan to build a new international order supported by these pillars. Of course, I know this will be no easy goal to reach; indeed, because of its very difficulty, the ingenuity and effort of people around the world who wish for lasting peace must be mobilized as never before. As a base for their activities, I have been suggesting the formation of a citizen-level, UN-centered organization, tentatively called the Association of World Citizens Safeguarding the United Nations. It is my hope that people around the world will put their imagination and wisdom to work to build bridges that will link one to another to form a new global order, while using the United Nations to best advantage. Last year, as a private citizen supporting the United Nations, I put forward a specific proposal for the establishment of a United Nations Decade of Education for World Citizens. It is of urgent necessity to educate as many people as possible to become "world citizens" in order to achieve everlasting peace. The curriculum should cover the most important themes humankind must grapple with today — the environment, development, peace, and human rights. Each one of these topics requires the new point of view of a world citizen, a perspective that goes beyond the confines of national entities. The above four themes are closely related to one another. and the ultimate goal in studying them together is peace for the human race.

Furthermore suggest that a World Citizens' Charter be created as a base for the education of world citizens. It would be a charter for peace education dealing comprehensively with the topics mentioned above. While people's awareness that they belong to the world as a whole is beginning to spread, there still are many conflicts around the globe stemming from racial or religious prejudice.

The preamble of the World Citizens' Charter would state that the differences among peoples, in culture, religion, language, etc., are something like the diversity in the species of vegetation rooted in the common soil of the Earth, that all the people on Earth are world citizens, and that peace and happiness of humankind will be pursued from this universal point of view.

It goes without saying that the existence of world citizens and national independence are not opposed to each other. In today's world it is fully possible to deepen one's own national and cultural identities and to take a broad look at the entire world while working for humanity.

Richard von Weizsäcker, president of West Germany, says that citizens of the world should not be rootless; it is roots that give them a consciousness of humanity that is convincing. Tolerance blossoms, he says, not where there is a universal mixture of the rootless, but where people are conscious of their national roots. His argument that awareness of the world does not conflict with patriotism, and that the consciousness of being a world citizen is quite a common self-understanding among Europeans, is very important.

As a champion of human rights, I consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights to be of great significance. However, these are, needless to say, results of talks among sovereign states, and make no mention of today's important issues, such as the role of non governmental organizations, the threat of nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and human beings' right to live. These deficiencies should be rectified.

The history of human rights shows that, as Karl Vasak from UNESCO pointed out, the first generation called for civil and political rights, and the second, for economic, social and cultural rights. The human rights demanded by the third generation are "the right to development, the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, the right to peace, and the right to ownership of the common heritage of mankind," says Vasak. The rights spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are those demanded by the first and second generations. The rights to be called for in the World Citizens' Charter would cover those desired by the third generation, rights that are very closely related to the sanctity of life.

The preamble of the United Nations Charter speaks of "fundamental human rights" and "the dignity and worth of the human person," and the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deals with 'the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. The World Citizens' Charter should stipulate in more concrete form the dignity and worth of the individual in terms of the sanctity of life and from the standpoint of world citizens. Thus, the World Citizens' Charter would supplement the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UNESCO Constitution in such a way as to meet the needs of the times. This charter may be considered a product of the efforts to prepare the way for the adoption of a Universal Declaration Renouncing War.

For these reasons I urge that the Third Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Disarmament be taken as a good opportunity to exercise the wisdom and sagacity of non governmental organizations in a creative effort to bring the World Citizens' Charter to reality.

Humankind is about to bring to a close the history of the twentieth century. History's surface is spangled with many distracting events, but we should not be bewitched by these passing phenomena. Let us instead watch carefully the strong, deep current that really determines human history. That current is none other than the will of the people. The people of the world are obviously looking forward to the arrival of a world without war, a world of eternal peace.

Finally, reminding ourselves of the unchanging guiding principle of the Soka Gakkai International to "stand on the side of the people," we at the SGI pledge again this year that we will continue to devote ourselves to the cause of building a peaceful society.

Daisaku Ikeda - January 26, 1988

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 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 |2001| 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.