60 Years of President Toda's Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
SGI President Ikeda reflects on the 55th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s historic declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons in an essay published in September 2012.
The following essay commemorates the 55th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s historic declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. It was originally published in the September 8 and 12, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.
Let it resound!
Ah, the golden voice
of the people.
We call out resolutely for peace. We are determined to pass on our commitment to realizing a world without war to future generations. The courageous cry for peace by the people at the grassroots is mightier than the threats and intimidation by those in power.
The American journalist Norman Cousins (1915–90), with whom I engaged in dialogue, was known as a voice of conscience and lent assistance to a group of young women who sustained terrible injuries in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.This refers to the so-called Hiroshima Maidens, a group of 25 women who suffered terrible burns in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. In May 1955, Norman Cousins organized a trip to the United States for these women to receive reconstructive surgery as well as acquire job skills. He held the conviction that ordinary citizens of the world “need to be encouraged to believe that what they feel and want to say can be part of a universal thrust.”See Norman Cousins, Human Options (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1981), p. 40.
• • •
We will never forget the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and only cities where nuclear weapons were employed in war. Both cities were destroyed, and countless individuals lost their precious lives. To this day, survivors of the bombings continue to suffer from illnesses related to radiation exposure.
On August 24 and 25, , the SGI held a new antinuclear exhibition, titled“Everything You Treasure—For a World Free From Nuclear Weapons,” at the International Conference Center in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The exhibition was created in collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (on September 8, 1957). Presented in conjunction with the 20th World Congress of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), it was also viewed by many of the participants attending from 45 countries around the globe.
Among the distinguished guests who viewed the exhibition was Dr. Robert Mtonga, co-president of the IPPNW. He expressed hope that people would come together like many had for the exhibition and create a world without nuclear
weapons in their lifetime.
In the 20th century, humankind gave rise to nuclear weapons, a product of the darkest nature inherent in life. It is now up to those of us who live in the 21st century to ensure that the tragic history of the atomic bombings is never forgotten. We must work toward realizing the abolition of nuclear weapons by uniting together to protect and preserve our one and only planet. It is my dearest wish that this new exhibition will be viewed by many people and serve to foster hope, courage and the spirit of peace.
It is most heartening that the Hiroshima Studies Lecture Series—launched by our Hiroshima youth division members to pass on the commitment to creating a world without war to the younger generation—recently marked its 150th lecture (on August 4, 2012).
Former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio de Queiroz Duarte spoke at the 149th lecture in the series (on July 28, 2012). As someone who firmly believes that the first step toward peace begins with listening to the voices of the people, Mr. Duarte always tries to leave as much time as possible to respond to questions. Indeed, the world’s leading thinkers all place great importance on the power of dialogue.
On the day Mr. Duarte spoke, there were many questions from the audience, and time had run out before all the questions were answered. When the lecture closed with thunderous applause, the audience assumed the event had come to an end. Aware, however, that one young man who had kept raising his hand did not have his question answered, Mr. Duarte walked over to him and asked what his question was. Although startled, the young man managed to respond by asking what the youth of Japan could do to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons. “Choose good leaders!” was Mr. Duarte’s reply. His words reflected his fervent aspiration that the younger generation would build a peaceful future.
starting point for peace,
the leadership of
youthful champions shines.
• • •
On September 8, 1957, the “Festival of Youth” (4th Eastern Japan Youth Division Sports Meet) was held at the Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, under a bright blue autumn sky washed clear by the previous day’s typhoon. The festival concluded with Mr. Toda’s impassioned call for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
His voice echoed across the stadium filled with 50,000 members of the Soka Gakkai, the majority of whom were youth: “We, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live. Anyone who jeopardizes that right is a devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster.”Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 564.
At the time, the nuclear arms race was intensifying with news of the United States and the Soviet Union testing the hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Doomsday Clock, used as a symbol to convey the remaining time before the extinction of the human race, was set to two minutes before midnight, or the hour of destruction.
At such a dire moment in history, my mentor spoke of the true nature of nuclear weapons, which threatened the very survival of humankind, from the profound dimension of life itself, transcending the bounds of nations, politics and
Recalling friends who had survived the atomic bombings, the participants renewed their vow to stand firmly alongside their mentor and advance together to build a world of peace.
The Soka Gakkai at the time was disparaged as a “gathering of the poor and sick.” However, Mr. Toda’s declaration gave great hope and inspiration to the members, letting them see beyond their present difficulties and problems and awakening them to their mission for kosen-rufu, or world peace.
• • •
Prior to his declaration, Mr. Toda had thought a great deal about the issue of nuclear weapons.
A year earlier in June 1956, Mr. Toda had attended a question-and-answer session with members in Yahata Municipal Square in Fukuoka, Kyushu. When the subject of the spreading global fear of nuclear war came up, Mr. Toda spoke with powerful indignation, asserting that anyone who used nuclear weapons would be committing an act of the greatest evil.
In addition, in a magazine interview on July 12, 1957, two months before his historic declaration, Mr. Toda stated: “Nuclear weapons are absolutely unforgivable. Whether it be the United States or the USSR, the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.”
His stern words were based on an unshakable conviction in the need to eliminate nuclear weapons—a conviction inspired by the Buddhist teaching of respect for the dignity of life.
Nichiren Daishonin writes, “Life is the foremost of all treasures” (“The Gift of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125). We must not tolerate any form of violence that threatens and destroys life.
In 1952, the world was in peril due to the rising tensions and deepening divisions created by the Cold War. At such a time, my mentor resolutely advocated the ideal of global citizenship—a pioneering ideal of people transcending national and ideological differences, and coming together as one human family. This philosophy also gave rise to his assertion that nuclear weapons are a common threat to the entire human race.
In 1955, leading scientists from around the world joined together to sign and endorse the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. Amid the growing nuclear threat, the manifesto called on world leaders to eliminate such weapons and resolve international disputes through peaceful means. As if in concert with my mentor’s vision of building a world where no people or nation would fall victim to the destructive force of nuclear weapons, demands for the abolition of these weapons were intensifying throughout the world.
In July 1957, Dr. Joseph Rotblat (1908–2005), one of the signatories of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, played a central role in establishing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization of scientists that inherited the manifesto’s antinuclear spirit. Two months later, on September 8, 1957, my mentor delivered his declaration. Reflecting on the flow of events at that time, I was again deeply impressed by my mentor’s foresight. Dr. Rotblat also praised Mr. Toda as a like-minded champion of peace.
Understanding the profound significance of my mentor’s declaration, I made great efforts to not only record and transcribe his words, but also capture the event on film in color. This was in spite of the fact that most filming at the time was done in black and white. My actions were based on my firm resolve to eternally preserve my mentor’s important declaration for future generations.
• • •
Mr. Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons was inspired by a wish for the peace and happiness of all humanity, and he entrusted us, his youthful successors, with putting the message of his declaration into action.
Now, 55 years later, our youth division members continue to vibrantly embody the spirit of Mr. Toda’s declaration, which he designated as the first of his final injunctions for the youth.
And in Kanagawa, where the declaration was made, many of the children and grandchildren of those who were present on that historic day are now taking full responsibility as leaders on the front lines of our organization. Some of them are also involved in planning and holding exhibits at the Toda Peace Memorial Hall in Yokohama.Sitting adjacent to the Soka Gakkai Kanagawa Culture Center (in Yokohama), the Toda Peace Memorial Hall is a building dedicated to preserving the spirit of Josei Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.
Looking back, it was only a little more than two months prior to delivering his declaration that Mr. Toda established the Soka Gakkai’s student division (on June 30, 1957). Shouldering the mission of worldwide kosen-rufu as Bodhisattvas Universal Worthy—people of broad and wide-ranging wisdom—our student division members are
making valiant and admirable efforts.
In Hiroshima and other parts of the Chugoku region,The Chugoku region comprises Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi,Tottori and Shimane prefectures. student division members recently conducted their annual survey regarding young people’s attitudes toward peace and nuclear weapons. This year, nearly 70 percent of the respondents voiced confidence that nuclear weapons could either be eliminated or at least reduced. A university professor who reviewed the results praised the peace efforts undertaken by the Soka youth, saying that they gave him hope for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Members of the Okinawa student division also conducted a survey on how much people knew about the wartime fighting on Okinawa. Their results brought to light the importance of passing down the experiences of those who lived through the war to younger generations.
I am presently engaged in a dialogue with the German environmentalist Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker. Dr. Weizsäcker’s father, the noted physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (1912–2007), had also been a staunch opponent of nuclear armament around the same time as Mr. Toda. I am reminded of the senior Dr. Weizsäcker’s words: “The peace-loving are those who can create peace around them. This is a strength, one of the greatest strengths a human being can possess.”Translated from German. C. F. von Weizsäcker, Der ungesicherte Friede (The Uncertain Peace), (Göttingen: Kleine Vandenhoeck-Reihe, 1979), p. 48.
In that spirit, our SGI youth in 192 countries and territories are working together with wisdom and dedication to spread our network for peace— from our local communities to the world, and from the present into the future. Their efforts are truly an inspiration. I am convinced that their courage and solidarity will give rise to limitless power for winning over the destructive tendencies that threaten our very right to existence.
the banner of peace
• • •
The mountain of Soka—
a citadel of happiness,
a bastion of peace.
As second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s disciple, I have chanted, spoken, written, traveled far and wide, and launched various initiatives in the effort to convey my mentor’s message for peace—the “first of his final injunctions”—to the youth and to the people throughout the world.
To commemorate the first anniversary of Mr. Toda’s antinuclear declaration in 1958, I wrote an article for the Seikyo Shimbun titled, “A Way Out of the Burning House—Thoughts on the Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.”Seikyo Shimbun, September 26, 1958. In it, I referred to a passage from the “Simile and Parable” chapter of the Lotus Sutra:
There is no safety in the threefold world;
it is like a burning house,
replete with a multitude of sufferings,
truly to be feared. (The Lotus Sutra and Its
Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 105)
Given this reality of our existence, I called for the worldwide propagation of Nichiren Buddhism, a teaching of absolute peace. In the same sutra chapter, Shakyamuni further states, “To bring peace and safety to living beings— / that is the reason I appear in the world” (LSOC, 109). The Buddha appears in the world, which is like a “burning house” racked by the incessant flames of war and suffering, and leads people to enlightenment. The Bodhisattvas of the Earth, meanwhile, are the trusted disciples who stand up with the same spirit as their teacher.
I therefore continued chanting wholeheartedly and encouraging one person after another, calling out in my heart: “Fellow Bodhisattvas of the Earth dedicated to the cause of lasting peace, come forth in unending succession! Together let us actualize Mr. Toda’s declaration!”
• • •
The presence of our friends
in Nagasaki insures
that the bells of peace
will ring out far and wide forever.
There was a men’s division member—an atomic bomb survivor from Nagasaki—who, for nearly half a century, couldn’t bear to even recall or speak of his experience of the bombing, keeping it locked up inside him. It was only after reading the full text of Mr. Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons on display at the Soka Gakkai Nagasaki Culture Center that he was finally able to open his heart.
When he read, “It is the mission of every member of the youth division in Japan to disseminate this idea throughout the globe,”Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 565. the word “mission” etched itself into his mind. The man vowed: “I’ll start from now, doing what I can.”
For him, that meant summoning his courage and talking to people about his experience. And he has done just that, speaking untiringly with the belief that it is the mission of atomic bomb survivors to engage in courageous and inspiring dialogues in Nagasaki, the site of the atomic bombing in which so many lost their lives.
As the great scientist Albert Einstein (1879–1955) declared: “Enduring peace will come about, not by countries continuing to threaten one another, but only through an honest effort to create mutual trust.”Albert Einstein, Einstein on Peace (New York: Schocken Books, 1960), p. 380. To succeed in dialogue, which is the most direct path to peace, it is important to build trust and to forge and foster friendships. Toward that end, let us listen to what others have to say, respect and learn from them. These are the golden rules of meaningful dialogue.
Nichiren Daishonin writes, “The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, lies in his behavior as a human being” (“The Three Kinds of Treasure,” WND-1, 852). It is only through our
sincerity and earnest actions that we can promote a growing commitment to the ideals of peace.
On that day in September 1957, Mr. Toda said: “It is my hope that, as my disciples, you will inherit the declaration [for the abolition of nuclear weapons] I am about to make today and, to the best of your ability, spread its intent throughout the world.”Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 565. Here, he was voicing his hope that we would strive tenaciously to win widespread trust and disseminate the Daishonin’s philosophy of peace throughout society. To that end, I have traveled the globe, forging bonds of friendship and engaging in dialogue with many international leaders to build a world of peaceful coexistence.
As second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s disciple, I have chanted, spoken, written, traveled far and wide, and launched various initiatives in the effort to convey my mentor’s message for peace.
I was informed that the men’s division member, whom I mentioned earlier, shook hands with the grandson of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) in Nagasaki on the anniversary of the atomic bombing this year (on August 9, 2012). As is well known, Truman was the president who gave the order to drop the bomb. The handshake between the two men more than six decades later may not have attracted world attention, but I would like to applaud it as a truly historic gesture. I am filled with deep admiration for the two men’s courage in rising above the bitterness of the past to open the door to a peaceful future.
• • •
Now is the time to energetically create a groundswell toward a nuclear-free world. Deeply concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that nuclear weapons are capable of producing, the agreement that resulted from the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference reaffirmed the need for all states to comply with international law.United Nations, “Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” vol. 1, p. 19.
With the agreement serving as a starting point, the greatest impetus for actualizing the Nuclear Weapons Convention will be the solidarity of awakened citizens.
The agreement, which takes the position of unconditionally banning the use of nuclear weapons by any state under any circumstances, resonates with the direction set forth in Mr. Toda’s pioneering declaration.
The year 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As that year approaches, let us join hands with like-minded individuals around the world and open the way toward establishing a universal ethos that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil.
• • •
A women’s division member, whom my wife and I will never forget, has said: “Working for peace is nothing complex; it is simply an expression of our care and compassion for others.” She was exposed to the Hiroshima bombing at Meijibashi Bridge, a short distance from the blast’s epicenter. As a member of the volunteer group Hiroshima o Kataru Kai (Speaking about Hiroshima), she often shared her experiences with students who visited the city on school trips. Students from the Kansai Soka Schools also had the opportunity to listen to her speak.
In addition to suffering from radiation exposure, she also experienced discrimination as a Korean resident of Japan. But despite the challenges and struggles she faced, she never gave up. An experience in elementary school when her friend stood up for her against schoolyard bullying sustained her. She said she will never forget the warmth of that friend’s hand on her shoulder— how that one act of kindness erased so many memories of suffering and sadness for her.
In the depths of their lives, all people yearn for peace and have the potential for love and compassion for others.
The smallest bit of courage can become the strength to protect a friend. The simplest words of kindness can change a person’s life. The important thing is to awaken the innate conscience and courage that exists within each person, and thereby bring together our communities, societies and humanity as a whole.
The Japanese scientist Hideki Yukawa (1907–81), one of the signatories of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, said: “It is all the more imperative that the conscience and common sense of humanity, which is to be found not in just a select few but in the hearts of the vast majority of people, become the driving force for ushering in a new post-nuclear age.”Translated from Japanese. Heiwa no shiso (Thoughts on Peace), edited by Hideki Yukawa (Kyoto: Yukonsha,
1968), p. 17.
Our daily Soka Gakkai activities may at times seem unglamorous and mundane. However, our sincere efforts to encourage our friends and positively impact our communities are an immeasurable source of hope and joy that will shine vibrantly throughout society.
• • •
There are said to be some 19,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled around the world today. Nuclear war is a terrible crime against humanity; it has the potential of both annihilating the human race and destroying our planet.
People of good conscience unequivocally believe that the use and testing of nuclear weapons should be banned and that the weapons themselves should be eliminated. At the same time, it is easy for people to become disheartened and even apathetic when calls to this effect go unheeded and our reality remains unchanged.
However, the British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), who drafted the Russell- Einstein Manifesto, argued: “We are not doomed to persist in the race towards disaster. Human volitions have caused it, and human volitions can
arrest it.”Bertrand Russell, Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare (London and New York: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1959), p. 13. Russell further asserted: “Despair is not wise. [Human beings] are capable, not only of fear and hate, but also of hope and benevolence.”Ibid., p. 5.
“Soka” means each person creating indestructible spiritual value. It is hope that can vanquish all despair, and courage that remains undefeated in the face of fear and hatred.
• • •
On September 12, 1271, at the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, Nichiren Daishonin cast off his transient status and revealed his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. In September two years later, while in exile on Sado Island, Nichiren wrote to a female disciple in Kamakura who remained steadfast in her faith
despite harsh persecutions:
The devil king of the sixth heaven has roused the ten kinds of troopsTen kinds of troops: Also, the ten kinds of troops of the devil king or the ten armies of the devil king. They represent ten kinds of hindrances. Nagarjuna’sTreatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom lists them as 1) greed, 2) care and worry, 3) hunger and thirst, 4) love of pleasure, 5) drowsiness and languor, 6) fear, 7) doubt and regret, 8) anger, 9) preoccupation with wealth and fame, and 10) arrogance and contempt for others. and, in the midst of the sea of the sufferings of birth and death, is at war with the votary of the Lotus Sutra to stop him from taking possession of and to wrest away from him this impure land [i.e., the saha world] where both ordinary people and sages dwell.
It has been twenty or more years now since I found myself in that situation and began the great battle [to propagate the Mystic Law]. Not once have I thought of retreat. (“The Great Battle,” WND-2, 465)
As direct successors to Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit, we, too, must continue our great struggle for peace and justice, never once thinking of retreat. Our women’s division members, in particular, are exemplars of this lofty spirit.
Peace scholar Elise Boulding (1920–2010) said: “Many people are calling for the restoration of the local community. Human beings are certainly capable of knowing one another better, and caring for and helping one another. In this connection, SGI members are making fine contributions to society by helping each person to be a good citizen.”Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda, Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press, 2010), p. 93. The world’s renowned thinkers have boundless hopes for our SGI activities.
Let’s forge ahead confidently, engaging in dialogues and making new friends, as we strive to usher in an age of peace characterized by beautiful harmony among all the world’s people—a new age of humanism shining with bright hope.
Flagbearers of peace,
to achieve absolute
victory in life.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||This refers to the so-called Hiroshima Maidens, a group of 25 women who suffered terrible burns in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. In May 1955, Norman Cousins organized a trip to the United States for these women to receive reconstructive surgery as well as acquire job skills.|
|2.||↑||See Norman Cousins, Human Options (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1981), p. 40.|
|3.||↑||Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 564.|
|4.||↑||Sitting adjacent to the Soka Gakkai Kanagawa Culture Center (in Yokohama), the Toda Peace Memorial Hall is a building dedicated to preserving the spirit of Josei Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.|
|5.||↑||The Chugoku region comprises Hiroshima, Okayama, Yamaguchi,Tottori and Shimane prefectures.|
|6.||↑||Translated from German. C. F. von Weizsäcker, Der ungesicherte Friede (The Uncertain Peace), (Göttingen: Kleine Vandenhoeck-Reihe, 1979), p. 48.|
|7.||↑||Seikyo Shimbun, September 26, 1958.|
|8.||↑||Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 565.|
|9.||↑||Albert Einstein, Einstein on Peace (New York: Schocken Books, 1960), p. 380.|
|10.||↑||Translated from Japanese. Toda Josei zenshu (Collected Works of Josei Toda), (Tokyo: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 1989), vol. 4, p. 565.|
|11.||↑||United Nations, “Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” vol. 1, p. 19.|
|12.||↑||Translated from Japanese. Heiwa no shiso (Thoughts on Peace), edited by Hideki Yukawa (Kyoto: Yukonsha,|
1968), p. 17.
|13.||↑||Bertrand Russell, Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare (London and New York: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1959), p. 13.|
|14.||↑||Ibid., p. 5.|
|15.||↑||Ten kinds of troops: Also, the ten kinds of troops of the devil king or the ten armies of the devil king. They represent ten kinds of hindrances. Nagarjuna’sTreatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom lists them as 1) greed, 2) care and worry, 3) hunger and thirst, 4) love of pleasure, 5) drowsiness and languor, 6) fear, 7) doubt and regret, 8) anger, 9) preoccupation with wealth and fame, and 10) arrogance and contempt for others.|
|16.||↑||Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda, Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Dialogue Path Press, 2010), p. 93.|