Welcome to the
President of Soka Gakkai International,
Peace Proposal 1990
The Triumph of Democracy:
Toward a Century of Hope
In commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the SGI
- The holding of the summit meeting at the United Nations
- The creation of an Environmental Security Council and an environmental protection force within the United Nations
- The holding of a Conference for a World Without War in 2001
- The promotion of World-Without-War Campaign" by the U.N.registered NGOs
- The holding of a first United Nations Special Session on Education
- The creation of an Education Development Fund and a United Nations Educational Cooperation League
- The establishment of an "Asia-Pacific Peace and Culture Center" on the Soka University Los Angeles campus
Fifteen years ago, on January 26, 1975, representatives from fifty countries met in Guam for the World Peace Conference. That was the beginning of the Soka Gakkai Interanational. I called on its members to devote their lives to planting the seeds of peace throughout the world rather than seeking to bring the flowers of their own lives to bloom. And I myself swore to make this goal my guide in my own life.
In the years since, friends and comrades in the Buddhist movement have dedicated their livess in their respective countries and soceties to activities in the cause of peace Their contributions as good citizens to their societies have been fruitful and I am profoundly impressed to see that they are growing as a respected force in the world. Today more than 1,260,000 SGI members in 115 countries are working for global peace and prosperity.
The turn of the century is close at hand. Now more than ever we must set our sights anew on the 'path toward the eternal goals of humanism, pacifism and culturism, and as we do so, I think we should reaffirm the principles upon which SGI was founded.
1. As good citizens, the members of the Soka Gakkai International resolve to Contribute to the prosperity of their respective societies and countries, while respecting individual cultures, customs and laws.
2. The members of the Soka Gakkai lnternational 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 the Soka Gakkai International resolve to contribute to the happiness of humankind and the prosperity of the world, while strongly eschewing war and violence of any kind; to support the Spirit of the Charter of the United Nations; and to take positive steps toward cooperating with its endeavors to keep world peace, with the abolition a nuclear weapons and the realization of a warless world as their supreme purpose.
Through the coming decade SGI will stand firmly on these principles in its continuing work to establish a firm foundation for world peace.
Last year I met with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky in Tokyo. He said to me then: "There is an old Latin proverb that goes 'If you desire peace, prepare for war', but in my mind, the saying should be 'If you desire peace, prepare for peace'. And that is what guides me in my work" Of course, I agree with him wholeheartedly, and I was deeply impressed by his sincere dedication to peace.
Only ten years remain before the beginning of the twenty-first century. We must use this decade to make substantive preparations for establishing permanent peace; it is an especially important decade for the world as we seek to bring the twentieth century to an ending we can be proud of.
Watching the televised reports as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was opened at the end of 1989, I was filled with emotion. Back in October 1961, only two months after the wall sundering the city east and west was built, I visited West Berlin and stood before that gate. It was an unforgettably forbidding sight. Twenty-eight years later the earthshaking power of the people has bought down that tragic wall, symbol of the cold war between East and West. I was struck as I watched the rejoicing citizens of Berlin by the sense that the cogs of history were creaking audibly as we shift into a new age. Only with the rarest exception has human history seen such dramatic change come about so peacefully.
A New Concept of Peace
Last year's Malta summit between President George Bush of the United States and President Mikhial Gorbachev of the Soviet Union confirmed that the cold war had come to an end. But although the two leaders groped for a vision of a new world order, no specific proposals were set forth as to how it might be achieved.
People everywhere are turning toward the swelling beat of the age of "the people's will" and a wave of democracy; yet even as we witness the end of one era, we are overcome with the awesome uncertainty of not being able to see what lies ahead, for today is one of the great periods of transition in history.
There remain many grave problems yet to be resolved around the globe, and the causes of regional unrest are still visible almost everywhere. Yet it is indeed momentous that the United States and the Soviet Union declared an end to the cold war and have begun their shift from confrontation to dialogue and cooperation. If the spirit of cooperation between
East and West can be maintained and if progress can be made in disarmament, tensions will be eased throughout the world; nuclear war should become a less immediate threat, giving economic development a chance to flourish. In this sense, I believe we can be optimistic about the prospects for the coming century. Our most pressing task now is to see that the chaos inevitable in times of transition leads not to dissension and conflict, but rather toward a stabilizing of the positive trends that have already emerged. We must set our sights on long-term goals, and, rather than attempting to achieve them all at once, devote ourselves to the motto of gradualism, overcoming each problem one by one.
At the same time, we must seize this opportunity to create a bold and incisive new concept of peace for the coming age. We will achieve no progress if our fears of an uncertain future make us too timid to proceed. Now is the time to gain the broadest possible perspective on our own age and apply all the wisdom at our disposal to a long-range plan for worldpeace. There is a pressing need now for a calm and objective analysis of what kind of age humanity is facing today and where it stands in history, in order to get a firm understanding of what is happening and of our prospects for the future.
Every human being has the right to live humanely. This conviction has unleashed the will of the people, creating a tide that cannot be stemmed and that engulfs everything in its path, as the extraordinary events at the end of last year in the Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe demonstrate. Advances in science and technology have propelled us into an age when national boundaries are coming down and information flows rapidly and pervasively throughout the world. The Power of the people and the spread of democracy has the potential to become-sooner or later-the mainstream of human history. Indeed, I believe, it has to be the mainstream.
My proposal last year on SGI Day was entitled "Toward a New Globalism", but no one could have predicted the rapid succession of upheavals we have witnessed over the months since then. Globaliism has emerged like a rising Sun that has burst with dazzling rays over the horizon. The sun is the people of the world. On the threshold of a new century, the power of the people is, not the first time in human history, moving to center stage.
Of course, we must not be overly optimistic. The televised images of the peoples of Eastern Europe, it is true, glow with hope. In Berlin, in Prague, and in Bucharest, the people have overthrown oppressive regimes and taken their fate into their own bands. The young people of these countries radiate joy in their new-found freedom. Jean-Paul Sartre, were he alive today, would cheer to see what he called engagement become reality. Our mentor and second president of the Soka Gakkai, Josei Toda, declared that "it is the passion and power of youth that will create the new century". It is my prayer that the smiling faces of the youth of Eastern Europe will shine forever.
The new wave an Eastern Europe is also a movement to attain humanity and libration. We cannot forget that people there seek the same freedom and economic affluence that has (or so it is believed) been attained in the West. Marxism denounced such freedom and wealth with the epithet "bourgeois" and declared that their true value could only be realized in socialist society where each "worked according to his ability and received according to his needs". Marx's theory of historical materialism and a socialist utopia at the highest stage of historical development inspired many brilliant young minds. The day when his ideas fed their aspirations for social revolution is not very long ago. The fact that today one socialist society after another has been turning away from this traditional line could make the attainment of their "utopia" impossible.
The countries of Eastern Europe may indeed have overthrown oppressive governments and seized "freedom" and (hopefully) wealth, yet nothing points the direction to the future. The upheavals, though serving as testimony to the potential of the power of the people and as inspiration to oppressed people everywhere, do not necessarily guarantee the fruitful future envisioned by the liberal societies of the Western world, which are now beset by many problems. Watching the waves of people crowding to cross the borders from East to West, we feel mixed emotions, far more complex than any mere sense of the "victory of the West," Can the reality of our liberal societies live up to the expectations of these people?
Reality in the advanced capitalist countries of the West hardy permits of delirious shouts of joy. As the war against drugs in the United States on which President Bush has staked the honor of his administration indicates, the diseases preying on our souls are far advanced.
The nuclear threat may have diminished some-what in what is now being called the "post-Yalta" era, but not a moment can be spared in finding solutions to the ravaging of the environment, the depletion of precious natural resources, the energy crisis, and the population explosion. Japan, enjoying its economic superiority in a turbulent world, is, in a sense, sitting complacently on a slumbering volcano. where as freedom and wealth ought to be used to enhance the best in humanity, it seems they are working quite to the contrary. There is much talk as we enter the decade of the nineties about the end of the century, but if we are not careful we may find ourselves approaching the end of human history. Let us be mindful that freedom and wealth can exact their own severe price.
If the brimming joy of liberation felt in Eastern European nations represents the bright side of the new "era of the people" and the "tide ot democracy". The global problems I have just described give us a glimpse of the negative side. In this respect a victory of sorts can well be claimed for socialism, for it is in the socialist countries that hope burns high to-day, while paradoxically the capitalist countries are struggling with a growing disillusionment with their own system's failure to guarantee a bright future.
Francis Fukuyama, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. Department of State, caused considerable controversy with an essay entitled "The End of History?" published in the Summer 1989 issue of a magazine called 'National Interest'. Fukuyama suggests that Western liberalism has defeated the totalitarian ideologies of fascism and communism, that history as we knew it has come to an end, and that we are heading into a post-historical age when the arts and philosophy will cease to exist 'The end of history brought about by this "bitter victory" will lead to an extended period of boredom and perhaps become the driving force to put the gears of history back into motion.
I disagree with Fukuyama on fundamental points, however I am convinced, for example, that human beings are not satisfied to simply live; I believe they feel the urge to live good lives-that they yearn to find meaning in their existence-and could therefore never endure a long era of inertia and apathy. A few months ago Japanese writer Yoshie Hotta deplored the fact that books of poetry had vanished from the bookstores in Paris, but I doubt that situation will prevail for long. Just imagine a dull and purposeless society without poetry or philosophy-certainly it would prompt the kind of revolt described by Dostoyevsky in his Notes from the Underground (1864). Indeed, the homogeneous mass society devoid of all meaning is easy prey for fascism or totalitarianism in whatever guise. We must never allow the dark and negative aspects of the will of the people and the tide of democracy to overtake the positive aspects.
Human Rights Are Universal
Here I should like to look back at Plato's ideas on democracy. In the eighth book of The Republic, Plato describes five types of government-aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. He analyzes each system, ranking them according to their pros and cons, and goes on to describe the types of human nature to which each system is best suited. In Plato's ranking, democracy comes fourth, for the system for which he reserves the highest regard is the benevolent aristocracy committed to the love of hnowledge.
Plato's low regard for democracy may stem from the fact that he spent his youth in the confused days of the decline of democracy in Athens. The Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta began just before Plato was born. Wben it ended almost thirty years later with the defeat of Athens, Plato was twenty-five or twenty-six. Thus the greater part of his youth was spent among the trials of this interminable war. Soon after its outbreak, Athens lost its great statesman Pericles to disease, and Athenian democracy rapidly deteriorated. An exceptionally sensitive and perceptive young man, Plato saw humanity at its ugliest. His view of his fellow men and of government must necessarily have been colored by what he observed, and it led him to a stern indictment of human egoism and to a critical view of reality.
The final blow for Plato must have been the execution of his beloved teacher Socrates by demagogues capable only of catering to a blind and easily agitated populace. As far as Plato was concerned, Socrates had been murdered by Athenian democracy. It had put to death the "most righteous" person. No wonder be was skeptical of democracy.
The deeply enraved experiences of his youth gave Plato rare insight into the nature of humankind and society. His detailed, at times comical, portrayal of democracy's innate tendency to transform itself into its exact opposite-tyranny-is a persuasive masterpiece of reason, making it the most remarkable passage not only in this particular chapter, but in the whole of The Republic.
This brings us to the eternal aporia-the paradox of freedom. Advocates of democracy, says Plato, argue that freedom is the greatest virtue of democracy and that, therefore, a democracy is the only state suitable to human beings, whose nature is essentially free. Yet by supporting the insatiable pursuit of freedom, democracy nurtures a multitude of desires that gradually and insidiously "seize the citadel at the young man's soul" and lead him down the path of conceit. Modestry is dismissed as silliness, temperance is shamed as unmanly, and moderation and orderly expenditure are caIled boorish and mean. And the throng celebrates "...having garlands on their heads, and a great company with them, hymning their praises and calling them by sweet names; insolence they term breeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence, and impudence courage".
Finally, the situation gets out of control and a strong leader is sought to restore order. From among the "idle drones", a single stinger-equipped creature is chosen, who at first emerges as the leader of the masses, but who soon gives in to the diabolical lure of power, and is inevitably transformed into a tyrant. And so, as Plato astutely points out, "The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess slavery" in the hands of a dictator.
This summary of Plato's ideas is admittedly a bit simplistic, yet it vividly shows the pathology and the paradox of liberty. Its lure is irresistable, but it is very difficult to cope with; it continues to be a heavy burden to bear. Following the eloquent arguments of the The Republic today, we are struck with how persuasively and truthfully Plato establishes his case. How faithiully its chapters record the patterns by which even the totalitarian regimes of our present-day have come into being.
Plato's strong criticism of democracy has been attacked and refuted by such modernist ideoloigues as Hans Kelsen (1881-1973), Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-), and Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). They do not take kindly to his contention that women and children should be looked after communally, that the state should be dominated by a small number of philosophers, and that poets should be expelled, denouncing his ideal as an extreme form of communism. Plato's description of such institutional factors that Russell compared to those found in Sparta has tripped up numerous democrats, liberals, and humanists, preventing them from understanding the essence of his critique of democracy.
The French philosopher Alain (1868-1951) probably comes to correctly interpreting Plato's arguments when he asks whether anyone has even attempted to perceive Plato's The Republic as the individual's guide to inner self-control. Alain sees Plato's opus more as a discourse on human nature than on government, especially in the way it revolves around the concept of the soul. He adds that the parts about government are capricious, and says they are purposely inserted to confuse the hasty reader. Plato would rather not be understood at an than be misunderstood, Alain says.
Calling such passages "capricious" was typical of Alain's boldness as a thinker, but indeed the Greek's pen shifts quickly from discussion of institutions to the subject of human character. Immediately after his description of the five types or states and the eons of human character suited to them in the eighth book of The Republic, Plato devotes the ninth book to the matter of the "health of the soul" and the "harmony of the soul." This is the natural consequence of his main purpose in writing the work. Plato describes the soul as being made up of three parts, the rational, the irascible, and the concupiscent, and concludes that the health and harmony of the soul is only realized when the rational part governs and the irascible part obeys. By the end of the ninth book, it is obvious that Plato is directing our attention to the "policy" within ourselves. After all, we cannot examine external policies until we have put our own internal policies in order.
This theme moves naturally on to the next, which is Plato's primary concern; the immortality of the soul. The Republic concludes with the tale of a hero named Er, risen from the dead after twelve days, who talks about what he has seen with his own eyes of the fate of the soul after death. This story reconfirms Plato's view that the belief in immortality is essential to maintaIning the harmony and health of the soul. Here he comes very close to, though he does not actually enter, the realm of religion.
The reason I have discussed Plato in such detail is because I believe his idea of the ordering of the soul so that the rational part governs is a key point in establishing, firmly and widely, the age of the people's will and the tide of democracy. The wave sweeping the countries of Eastern Europe is the tremendous energy of liberation. Its message is clear: no authority, no matter how powerful, can go against the will of the people for very long.
Now the critical task we face is to divert the energy of liberation into the energy of building. For a while the goals of freedom and affluence may seem the most compelling, but rebuilding economic systems corroded by bureaucratic control will be no easy task, as the difficulties Gorbachev has faced in implementing Perestroika in the Soviet Union so clearly show. Furthermore, the Soviet Union and nations of Eastern Europe wrestle with complex ethnic issues that we cannot even conceive of in Japan. If the energies released by ethnic pride as well as the desire for freedom are not properly harnessed, conflict and warfare might result. How is this to be done? How can we link those energies to a global age of the people's will and of democracy?
Though Paul Kennedy has called Japan a third-rate power politically, recently there are stirrings in this country of elements among the masses-women and urban citizens-for far too long considered peripheral by the old political and social establishment. It is very heartening to hear their courageous attacks on the establishment forces clinging so desperately to their vested interests and outdated values. One of our most important tasks today and one upon which the fate of humankind rests, is to effectively transcend national borders and to create new channels of Communication to link this and other trends to the global movement.
We must begin by looking into ourselves, by examining, as Plato advocated, the "state within" even more rigorously than the "state without". That process of interspection will, I believe, offer us important insights in defining the universal meaning of human rights. Articulating such a definition will both serve as a symbol of the movement for freedom and democracy and answer one of our most pressing needs as we stand on the threshold of the twenty-first century.
Half a century ago, alarmed by the advancing threat of fascism to humanist and democratic values, the British poet T.S. Eliot made a ringing appeal on radio. He said, in part:
...One reason why the lot of the secular reformer or revolutionist seems to me to be the easier is this: that for the most part he conceives of the evils of the world as something external to himself. They are thought of either as completely impersonal, so that there is nothing to alter but machinery: or if there is evil incarnate, it is always incarnate in the other people-a clan, a race, the politicians, the bankers, the armament makers, and so forth-never in oneself.
Eliot has made a very basic point, and it has been well illustrated in the domino-like ripplings of change throughout Eastern Europe. The communist regimes are toppling because for too long they sought enemies outside of themselves, not attempting to see the evils they were harboring within. And so the view of history as a history of class strvggle-that is, if class distinctions were obliterated all social evils would be obliterated-has been bankrupted. Replacing "clan" with "race" you have the diabolic Nazi myth that only the Aryan race was pure enough to rule. The myth dies hard, for even today, nearly fifty years after the end of World War II, increasing ultra-rightist resistance to the entry of foreign workers into the countries of Western Europe is tinged with racist overtones.
And these are not just matters of remote concern; they pertain to affairs in Japan as well. Our extended boom in business has created a labor shortage, and the number of foreign workers has dramatically increased. This swelling of the numbers of foreign residents in this country is compelling us to reassess our most fundamental values. It is difficult to remain indifferent to the inflexible attitude of the authorities on the issue of the fingerprinting of foreigners. Eliot's-and Plato's-admonition to turn our attention to internal concerns is as relevant today as it was in the past.
Last year marked the bicentennial of the French Revolution and the proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the citizen. Numerous events were held to commemorate the occasion, a number of which were supported by the Soka Gakkai International. Discussion of the nature of human rights was vigorous. One French periodical parodied the Communist Manifesto with the words: "A specter is haunting Europe-if not the whole earth... it is the specter of human rights" It was an article commenting on the fact that the communist myth seemed to be giving way to the myth of the French Revolution, not an unreasonable hypothesis given the current ferment in Europe's Eastern bIoc. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was once again brought into the lime-light as an ideal of humankind containing universal principles. I had an opportunity to experience the excitement of this rediscovery myself when I visited France in June last year to speak at the Institut de France.
The concept of human rights has changed and been strengthened since it was first enunciated during the eighteenth century Enlightenment in Europe. At first it was directed at the protection of the basic civil rights of the individual vis-a-vis the authority of the state. From the beginning of this century, however, as the contradictions inherent in capitalism became increasingly apparent, greater emphasis has been given to the state's responsibility to guarantee the livelihood of its citizens, what might be called the basic right to life. Recently, some call basic civil liberties "first generation" freedoms, the right to life, "second generation" freedoms, and those that can only be attained through international solidarity, such as peace and the protection of the global environment, "third generation" human rights. The last, obviously, is a concept that embraces the formerly colonized countries of the Third World.
About three years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Michel Banoin, chairman of the Commission for Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Of the Citizen. In order to realise a society that respects human virtue, he said, it is necessary to have "friendship" and in order to have friendship we must have solidarity. Unfortunately, Baroin died in a tragic accident, but his dream remains as part of the third-generation concept of human rights.
What I would like to stress here is that the kind of friendship and solidarity Baroin envisioned requires, in addition to legal and administrative guarantees (which are of course crucial), psychological support for human rights. If we are to develop a universal sensitivity to human rights, it is essential that we cultivate the ability to reflect upon our innermost being.
A case that comes close to home is the worsening trade frictions between Japan and the United States. The sometimes emotional and extreme arguments from both sides have already gone beyond the realm of economics and trade, to attack questions of culture, customs, and values. What rebuttals are made tend to be emotionally charged. My greatest fear is that the friction will escalate into an ethnocentric clash.
Considering how much Japan's economic growth owes to the blessings of the free trade system, it seems clear that the time has come for Japan to make a more concerted effort to open its markets and its society, thereby creating a more democratic system. This is more than a strategic choice. Freedom and democracy, the supreme goals of European modernism, pivot on human rights and respect for the individual, and therefore command our respect, regardless of what political system, culture or tradItions we bold dear. Though some believe that these concepts may contradict or be ilI-fitting as far as reality is concerned, they can still be ascertained to be ideas of universal value to humanity. On that premise we can try to substantiate them as viable concepts.
In Japan, which has never experienced the kind of struggle between the state and the individual that gave rise in France to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Of the Citizen, the concept of respect for the individual is little known and rarely discussed. As we are often reminded, Japan is a country where the interests of the individual are subordinate to the state, to the company, and to the group, and where the people, especially opinion leaders (who ought to be the watchdogs and critics of the powerful), yield submissively to authority. We would be wise to turn an unbiased ear once again to such critical appraisals.
If we fail to do so, puffing ourselves up with pride over what economic successes we have enjoyed and emphasizing the uniqueness and superiority of our ways, we will only heighten our isolation from the rest of the world. No nation that lacks the capacity for introspection or restraint can expect to win respect in international society. Neither, obviously, can we hope for permanent friendship and solidarity; as the old saying goes, "friendship runs out when the money runs out".
The Importance of Self-Restraint
By the same token, the American revisionists (advocates of a reappraisal of Japan) who, taking modern Western values for granted, argue their unconditional validity, seem to me to betray their own lack of introspection. The gap between reality and ideals can be perceived, for example, in the Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution. Universal freedom was the byword of the revolution, but because the concept was elevated to an idealistic and extreme abstraction, it was served from tradition. To compensate, Robespierre turned to the "despotism of freedom". And of course, behind the noble slogan of liberalism of the modern West, lurked the cruel clutchings of colonialism and exploitation, which left scars on Third World nations in Asia and Africa that have yet to heal. This seems to testify to the failure of ideals to converge with reality. We cannot forget that because of this history, many people in the Third World remain suspicious of the West, resisting and fearing the influx of Western values as "cultural imperialism."
But this historical development is an all-too-familiar subject what concerns me today is that a subtle change is taking place in what is meant by "East" and "West" Whereas these terms denoted until very recently the ideological territories of socialism and liberalism, today they are increasingly being used to describe cultural and regional differences between Asia (the East) and Europe and North America (the West). It is sometimes argued that among the factors behind the bilateral trade frictions between Japan and tbe United States is the notion that Japan is beyond the pale of Western society and that it is unfit to be included in the company of liberal nations and ought therefore to be ostracized.
This is a matter that demands our great concern. Cultural relativism emerged only in the twentieth century out of the wrongs of colonialism in the attempt to acknowledge that non-Western cultures were of equal value to Western cultures. It was commendable in that it indicated the European mind's ability for self-purification and introspection. It would be regrettable indeed if this concept were abandoned and perceptions allowed to revert to the old notion of the "backward" East and the "advanced" West. Far from facilitating friendship and solidarity, we might see the imposition of values of one culture upon another that leads to cultural frictions and war.
The present trade frictions between Japan and the United States remind us pointedly that cultural interaction and transmission are not all sweetness and light, but can involve fierce clashes between differing values. Friction of some degree is to be expected whenever different cultures come into contact. What really matters is how we deal with the conflict-whether we can resolve it in a constructive manner. Today, whether we like it or not, the world's civilisations and cultures are being globalized; we must strive through the inevitable clashes we face to forge our cultures and values anew, enduring the often painful remarking of ourselves.
In that process, Japan will certainly find that the key lies in the self-restraint that comes from introspection. As in relations between individuals, relations between countries cannot be managed on a mature level if one side insists on its own point of view without regard for the position of the other side. The ability to perceive the negative in oneself enables one to perceive the positive in others. I do not mean to advocate a Manichaean concept of the duality of good and evil, but only to emphasize that we must acknowledge the good and evil within each of us. Even as we lock horns with a rival, we should be seeking to manifest the good and obliterate the bad. The power of self-restraint can help us avoid conflict and estrangement and enable us to take a correct stance of mutual acceptance and respecL
If we are in sufficient command of ourselves, we wiil not feel compelled to impose our own values upon others nor to trample upon the customs and values they hold dear. Self control would also prevent us from trying to rationalise everything in economic terms regardless of the conditions, perceptions and ramifications of other countries, saving us from being relegated to the ignoble company of "economic animals."
When people's confidence waxes and wanes according to the level of their country's GNP, it is often said that Japanese vacillate between the extremes of adoration and censure of "the outside" or of others, and this trait stems from failing to look within ourselves, from riveting our attention instead on what is outside. Rather than trying to control ourselves, we seek to control others.
Japanese philosopher Arimasa Mori (1911-1976) once said that the "world is a test of self-discipline." This statement shows Mori's remarkable discernment of the true meaning of peace and civilian control. Japan, with its great economic strength, will pose a very real threat to the rest of the world if it does not exercise the self-restraint to temper and control itself. Given the state of flux in world affairs today, there is even the danger that it might embark once again upon the road to becoming a military power. Such an eventuality would make Japan's hope, as expressed in its Constitutian, "to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace" an empty dream.
One of the major functions of religion, I believe, is to foster the kind of self-control and self-restraint I have discussed here. In a conversation last year with Glenn D. Paige, Coordinator of the Center for the Global Non-violence Planning Project, I mentioned the term jofukyo, which is used in reference to a bodhissatva by that name who appears in the Lotus Sutra, and means "to never despise". The bodhissatva believed that since all humans possess the Buddha nature, none could be despised, that all life, all humanity had to be accorded the highest respect. Even when proud and boastful people denounced the bodhissatva, struck him with their staffs, and pelted him with stones, he still refused to disdain them, believing that to belittle them would be to belittle the Buddha. He continued to preach this doctrine, to the end, honoring respect for humanity in his every word and deed.
Bodhissatva Jofukyo's unshakable belief that humanity should never be despised exemplifies the kind of self-control we must learn to nurture in ourselves. In the Lotus Sutra, the story of Bodhissatva Jofukyo is a parable of the ultimate in Buddhist discipline, but it also is akin to Plato's contention that we must learn to place our souls under the control of our "rational part" and illustrates the importance of self-control as a universal virtue of all humankind.
Whether we can become good citizens of the world hinges upon the degree of self-control we can achieve. It is, after all, the ability to see ourselves penetratingly that enables us to transcend national boundaries and ethnic lines. Eternal peace is not a static condition, but a continuum that is consciously maintained through the interaction of self-restraining individuals within a self-restraining society. Cooperation for peace is necessary in the areas of politics, economics, and education, of course. But the building of lasting peace depends on how many people capable of self-restraint can be fostered through religious guidance. If a religion is worthy of the name, and if it is one that can respond to the needs of contemporary times, it should be able to nurture in its followers the spiritual base for becoming good citizens of the world.
Toward a U.N. Summit
At the beginning of 1989 I declared that the most realistic way to help build a new political and economic world order amid the growing international multipolarity was to work through the United Nations. We have repeatedly stressed the need to strengthen the authority at the United Nations in order to build a new world order, and are greatly encouraged by the unexpectedly high regard the United Nations has won in recent years. As the end of ideological confrontation between East and West becomes more firmly established, the ground is being laid for this organization to function effectively and use its powers more organically, and new ideas and initiatives are greatly needed.
When I met last year with U.N. Under-Secretary General for International Economic and Social Affairs Rafeeuddin Ahmed, Under-Secretary GeneraI for Human Rights Jan Martenson, and Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs Yasushi Akashi, we agreed unanimously on the need to strengthen the United Nations. It is a very positive trend that the United States and the Soviet Union are forging closer and more cooperative ties, but the growing multipolarity of international relations could become a destabilizing factor in world affairs. Compared to Europe, where regional tensions are being eased by the impending unification of the EC market in 1992, Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Africa continue to be racked by local strife and regional conflict. In recent years, the United Nations has played a significant role in the resolution of many regional wars. Building on the foundations provided by improvement in US/Soviet relations, we must create a greater wave of worldwide relaxation of tensions by striving to put out the fires of conflict burning in so many places around the globe. Too many of the poorest developing countries are pouring nearly half of their government funds into military expenditures and payment of debts. We can help reduce the burden by helping the United Nations bring an end to wars everywhere.
To this end, I propose that when the United Nations General Assembly is convened this year, heads of state from every part of the world be regularly given the opportunity to meet and discuss solutions for the problems they face through U.N. forums. I believe that the United Nation Secretary General should call for summit meetings among the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France, United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy, Canada, Brazil and other countries, as well as the EC. Currently summit meetings of the leaders of the major industrial countries are held annually, but we are no longer in an age in which the heads of the Western states can dictate trends. There are too many pressing issues that can only be solved through discussions that transcend the old East-West, North-South demarcations.
Such a summit could thoroughly explore the ways and means of bringing an end to all regional conflicts and focus discussion on disarmament, environmental issues, the North-South problem, and other important subjects that require mutual understanding and cooperation among heads of state around the world. Preparatory meetings would, of course, be needed. There is an urgent need, for example, to undertake radical measures to deal with global environmental problems. In June 1992 in Brazil, the United Nations will hold a special meeting on environmental development to discuss measures to tackle the global environmental crisis. What decisions are made at the meeting will have far-reaching repercussions for the whole world.
In order to assure that really effective measures are taken, I propose that a new Environmental Security Council be created within the United Nations and that an environmental protection force like the U.N. Peace-Keeping Force be formed. Our environmental problems have grown so acute that we cannot afford to simply discuss them any more; they must be tackled concretely and actively.
If the proposed summits were held annually in conjunction with U.N. General Assembly meetings, they would bring the world's heads of state together frequently, encouraging the easing of tensions through dialogue, and contributing to an impruved climate in international relations.
On disarmament, an agreement is expected by the end of this year in the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and the Negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The countries of the world have expended large amounts of money and devoted precious human resources to building up their military power; and the leaders of individual countries are at last awakening to the fact that this poses a serious obstacle to the advancement of healthy economic growth. Even the United States and the Soviet Union have acknowledged the need to cut back on military expenditure in order to cope with their economic problems.
While considerable progress may be made in reducing the world's arsenal of nuclear arms, there is as yet no indication that they will disappear altogether. Reduction of conventional weapons is even more difficult. Nations may rely less on military might in the conduct of international relations, but there is still no effective mechanism for preventing regional warfare.
In order to achieve a peaceful transition from the old, postwar world order to a new world order for the twenty-first century as a century of hope, decisive steps must be taken. With the massive nuclear arsenals built up by the United States and the Soviet Union still active, it has been pointed out that we need a system of "common security" to assure the survival of the human race. This represents a groping toward a global security that will assure that both one's own side and the other side will survive, It requires, in short, building a system for achieving a world without war.
I have repeatedly stressed that nuclear arms mean catastrophe for all humankind and that we must inevitably transcend national boundaries in combatting them, working together not for the benefit of individual national interests but for the benefit of humankind, not for national sovereignty but for the sovereignty of the human race. The problem is how to shift the importance of national sovereignty from an absolute to a relative concern. I am not calling for the immediate dissolution of nation states and the creation of some kind of world federation. Such a scenario will be far too unrealistic for quite some time to come. A more realistic approach might be to encourage the nations of the world to begin writing into their charters and constitutions renunciations of the right to war like that found in Japan's postwar Constitution. The goal would be to prevent countries from instigating war in the name of national sovereignty.
Governments still play, and will surely continue to play, an important role in protecting the freedom and rights of citizens and ensuring their welfare. Every effort should be made to preserve the authority that makes this possible. The right of self-determination of peoples must also be respected. What countries can well afford to relinquish is the right to wage war. Just this one simple step would be enough to open up the possibility of a system for a world free of war.
On this point Norman Cousins, professor of the University of California at Los Angeles, and I have fully agreed in our recent series of discussions on world peace. Professor Cousins has for many years been a leader of the movement to strengthen the authority of the United Nations and is president of the World Association of World Federalists.
Twice humanity plunged itself into world war and twice it vowed never to go to war again, and it was from this experience that the spirit of the United Nations Charter was born. The post-World War II years witnessed the grievous escalation of a cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union as the two superpowers became locked in an arms race, building incredible arsenals that threaten the continued existence of the human race today.
People talk of the end of the cold war and the advent of a new age. So it is time, I believe, to go back to the spirit of the United Nations charter and plunge ourselves into the task of building a new global community without war. I suggest that we approach this endeavor in units of ten years. The decade of the 1990s would be a time of preparation for a Conference for a World Without War to be held at the United Nations headquarters in the year 2001. It should be a major peace conference attended by both political leaders and private citizens.
If the movement for a world free of war is to become a tide enveloping the entire globe, it must have the support of international public opinion. The first step is to establish grassroots support within each nation for the adoption of constitutional renunciation of war. The key is to link internationally the kind of people power that is bringing about reform in the countries of Eastern Europe. I believe the grassroots campaign for a world without war should be promoted by U.N. registered non-governmental organisations. One program dedicated to this purpose is the series of SGI"War and Peace" exhibitions being held in different parts of the world, and SGI, naturally, will play its part in the campaign for a world without war, just as it has been a stalwart in the movement for world disarmament and human rights over the years.
The proposed Conference for a World Without Warin 2OO1 ought to be the forum to proclaim the Universal Declaration Renouncing War for which SCI has been calling for many years, and to prepare the blueprints for an international agreement or convention for a world without war. Efforts on the government-to-government level would have to be accompanied by significant private initiatives. To lead and coordinate such efforts, I propose the creation of a World Council for the United Nations. This body, made up of representatives of the private sector, would study ways to strengthen and reform the United Nations in order to facilitate the building of a world order free of war.
Proposal For Special Session on Education
The next step is education. In order to ensure that the twenty-first century is a century of hope, our efforts to build a global community without war must be paralleled by the nurturing of human resources, the development of the latent potential of people everywhere. In this endeavor I applaud the accomplishments of UNESCO. The UNESCO charter emphasizes the need to educate humanity to the importance of justice, freedom and peace, and to that end it has sponsored such activities as the World Conference on Disarmament Education.
While UNESCO's activities in peace and disarmament education amid the heightening of international tensions are significant, I feel that more should be done, of a much larger scope and of a nature tailored to the needs of the new era. It is time for the entire United Nations to become involved in a wide variety of educational tasks on a global scale, and it is in view of this that I propose the convening of a first United Nations Special Session on Education (SSEJ) at the earliest opportunity.
There are two reasons why I believe the United Nations should take the initiative in undertaking educational issues of global scope. One is the immensity of the problems that must be resolved on a global scale, including poverty, hunger, the population explosion and the environment. These are not isolated problems, but issues that need to be addressed from a perspective of humankind as a whole. In tackling problems such as these that require the formation of a global consensus, education will be an important tool.
The United Nations designated 1990 International Literacy Year. Figures show that approximately 900 million people, or 30 per-cent of the world population over the age of 15, are Illiterate. The majority of these people are in Third World countries. In September 1987, in talks with Philip Muine Mbithi, vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi in Kenya, with Professor Wole Soyinka, Winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature and the first African to receive the award, and last year with President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and Tony Momoh, Nigerian MInister of Imformation and Culture, I was reminded afresh of the gravity of the problems of education.
The world is still full of people who cannot read or write. UNESCO is to be commended for its action programs aimed at achieving world literacy by the year 2000. But the problem of education goes far beyond the basic task of learning to read and write. We must also find ways to draw out the latent potential of people who have not been able to acquire even the basic know-how of survival, and to channel that potential toward the building of a global community.
The problems surrounding education are, of course, very difficult; their remedies call for immense patience and perseverance. Programs to expand education implemented "from above" have often failed for lack of sufficient impetus. If the global level of education is to be raised, it will be necessary to provide strong support for internally initiated efforts from the "bottom up."
I believe strongly in the latent power of people. In order to awaken people to their own power, education is necessary. People need teachers. Today, it seems to me, we are hearing the call for education in a global form.
Though military expenditures all over the world rose steadily from the end of World War 11, the recent thawing of East-West relations has reversed that trend, and helped reduce them to the lowest point ever in the postwar era, Both the Unites States and the Soviet Union are working to cut back their defense budgets. A major issue now is how to reallocate the funds released to promote the development of their domestic economies.
According to a United Nations' report, roughly five percent of the wofid's annual expenditures on defense would be sufficient to ensure food, water, health, and education for all the people on the planet during the same period of time. If that is all that is needed, surely it should be possible to reduce armaments and defense expenditures by five percent. I would like to suggest that the United Nations assess each of its member nations for a portion of this amount saved to create an Education Development Fund for the Third World countries.
In addition, I propose the creation of a United Nations Educational Cooperation league, patterned after the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) program active in providing assistance to Third World countries, through which the human resources could be marshalled to carry out global educational programs supported by the above-mentioned U.N. Educational Development Fund.
The second reason I believe the United Nations must take the initiative in global problems of education is that we must promote the education of world citizens. For several years I have urged that the decade of the 1990's be designated the United Nations Decade of World Citizens' Education. Specifically, this would involve creating a curriculum embracing themes of urgent concern to humankind as a whole: the environment, development, peace and human rights.
While people are gradually beginning to acquire a global perspective, war and struggles fought over racial, ethnic and religious issues are as omnipresent as ever. By calling for a Special Session on Education, the United Nations can effectively launch a Campaign for education of world citizens that will encourage people to see that we are all passengers on one "spaceship Earth," that we are all members of the same "house." This Special Session should be held, not in one of the industrialized countries, but in a Third World country such as Kenya. Nairobi is ideally located at the gateway to eastern Africa and readily accessible by air as well as equipped with hotels and conference facilities.
All of the above proposals center around the United Nations, yet I am fully cognizant that the organization as it is today has its limitations, that perhaps I am expecting too much. Still, I feel strongly that the only feasible way to build a new world order is by supporting and strengthening the United Nations and its activities.
This is a time when all kinds of things can be transported instantly from country to country. With progress in science and technology and advanced communications networks, the movement of information and money across national borders is tremendous. The global economy is becoming increasingly interdependent and complex, while exchange of persons is acceleraing thanks to new developments in international tranportation. National boundaries are steadily being lowered. Some 3.7 million people passed back and forth between East and West Berlin over the New Year holidays, we hear. We are entering an age when people are able to engage in direct encounter, to meet and get to know one another face to face. The calls for freedom and democracy ringing throughout Eastern Europe will eventually echo in every corner of the globe. The ripple set in motion there will be felt in every corner of Asia and the Pacific region where armed tensions still persist.
Those ripples an certain to reach even the Korean Peninsula, which has been split in two ever since the beginning of the cold war; it is my fervent hope that its warming current will help to thaw the encrusted ice that has gripped the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic Of Korea, leading to a relaxation of tension, and the realization of a summit between their respective heads of state.
Regarding the long-unresolved territorial issue between Japan and the Soviet Union, I am hopeful that the two countries will soon reach a mutual understanding that assures progress toward this goal for the sake of long-term friendly ties between our peoples and in the context of a global community without war in the twenty-first century.
In the summer of 1990, a Pan-Pacific symposium will be held by Soka University at its Los Angeles campus. At this symposium, I hope that the issue of Soviet-Japanese relations and other topics will be discussed in depth and in broad perspective. We are also considering the establishment in the near future ofan Asia-Pacific and Culture Center on the Soka University Los Angeles campus where issues can be researched with a view to organizing an Asia-Pacific Organisation for Peace and Culture.
We stand today on the threshold of a new era, an era in which the will of the people and the tide of democracy will move local governments and the whole world. For the first time in human history, it is the people who will be standing at the helm. We cannot sit idly by as we enter this new era, but must move forward and take the lead in the creation of a new world civilization.
As in years past, I will continue to travel extensively in 1990, to be among those who stand with the people in the quest for peace on this planet.
January 26, 1990
Copyright Soka Gakkai
Each year since 1983, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda presents peace proposals on behalf of the international lay Buddhist organization, to which Soka Gakkai belongs. In them, he articulates Buddhist ideals and philosophy as a framework for addressing the manifold problems our global society faces in its efforts to realize human security and world peace.
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