SGI Youth Summit For the Renunciation of War
Uniting the world's people toward November 2018.
by David Witkowski
SGI-USA YOUTH LEADER
YOKOHAMA, Japan— On September 2, SGI youth representing 30 countries joined some 540 people, including distinguished guests, for the SGI Youth Summit for the Renunciation of War. This summit commemorated the day 60 years ago, on September 8, 1957, when second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda made his historic Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons before some 50,000 youth at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.
Just hours before the summit, 250 SGI youth leaders from 55 countries, including the U.S., toured Mitsuzawa Stadium, where they walked the exact path that the 50,000 youth did six decades ago, from the entrance of the park to the stadium. The walk culminated with the youth representatives taking turns standing on the exact spot where President Toda gave his declaration, which represents the starting point of the SGI’s global peace movement.
The “Soka 21st Century
Renunciation of War Group”
In his message to the summit, SGI President Ikeda expressed how happy he was that 60 years after his mentor, Josei Toda, made his declaration, the youth of the world toured Mitsuzawa Stadium. He emphasized that all life possesses the inalienable right to exist and that we have a mission to protect life. Thinking of his mentor, he said that Mr. Toda would be so happy to observe the youth of the world visiting the location where he gave his declaration and making their own vow for world peace.
President Ikeda then named the summit participants the Soka 21st Century Renunciation of War Group, with the hope that we further the SGI’s mission for peace in the coming decades toward the 100th anniversary of Mr. Toda’s declaration in 2057. We were profoundly moved by Sensei’s farreaching vision for world peace.
Finally, President Ikeda expressed his burning desire for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to be ratified by the United Nations. He asked us to never forget that each individual’s human revolution is the basis for world peace, encouraging us to make a fresh departure in our efforts to build a world without nuclear weapons.
Speaking Out for Peace
at 91 Years Old
We also heard a powerful experience by Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Kimio Hattori, who stands strong at 91 years old. In 1944, when he was 19 years old, Mr. Hattori was stationed at an army base in Higashi, Hiroshima. On August 6, 1945, he heard the sounds of aircraft flying over the city and looked outside to see what was going on. That’s when the blinding blast occurred. Hiroshima went up in flames as a mushroom cloud arose from the black clouds hovering over the city.
President Ikeda emphasized that all life possesses the inalienable right to exist
and that we have a mission to protect life.
That evening, Mr. Hattori took a train to the center of Hiroshima to support relief efforts. He described how he couldn’t stop shaking in terror at the sight of so many dead bodies covering the ground that there was hardly any place to walk. Looking into the Hiroshima River, which runs through the center of the city, he said the water was no longer visible, as the river was piled to the brim with bodies.
After the war, Mr. Hattori moved to Yokohama to live with his sister. Eventually, she was introduced to the Soka Gakkai and strongly encouraged him to practice Buddhism, as well.
Mr. Hattori, however, was resistant to religion and initially refused. But finding it difficult to get a job and struggling with poor health, he started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. He got a job within one week and saw his health improve immediately, so he joined the Soka Gakkai.
Mr. Hattori struggled with the stigma of being an atomic bomb survivor, which made it difficult to get work or find a significant other, so he hid his war experiences as much as possible. He also lived in constant fear of contracting a disease from radiation exposure. When Mr. Hattori joined the Soka Gakkai, he transformed this gripping fear into a strong sense of mission to share his experience with the world, so that no one else would experience the misery caused by nuclear weapons. He holds close to his heart the opening lines of President Ikeda’s novel The Human Revolution: “Nothing is more barbarous than war. Nothing is more cruel” (p. 3). Mr. Hattori said he hopes to continue sharing his experience with future generations so that they can understand the horrors of war and work to create a world of peace.
The World’s Youth Make a Pledge
The young men’s leader of SGI-Italy, Daniele Santi, gave a report on the efforts of the Italian youth to raise awareness of the danger of nuclear weapons and gather popular support for nuclear abolition. Through their campaign “Senzatomica,” they have held exhibitions in over 70 cities throughout Italy, viewed by some 320,000 people. Their efforts have had a profound effect on public opinion regarding nuclear weapons policy in Italy.
During the summit, SGI Youth Leader Mitsushiro Takeoka announced three goals for the SGI peace movement:
1) Youth to inherit the lessons from history to build a better future;
2) Build understanding and support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and
3) Expand the network of youth fighting for peace.
Mr. Takeoka also shared his family’s experience of braving the horrors of war. His grandmother, Chisako Takeoka, was 17 years old, when she experienced the atomic explosion in Hiroshima. When her mother didn’t return home from work, she ventured into central Hiroshima to find her. After spending a series of hellish days searching for her mother in countless piles of dead bodies, she entered a makeshift facility, where she searched every person, opening their mouth to look for her mother’s identifying marker: three gold teeth. In the last room, she found her mother, charred and encrusted in blood, but still alive.
Her mother is the person who, nine years later, was introduced to the Soka Gakkai and inspired her whole family to join. Today, they have developed beautiful fortune as five generations of a harmonious family practicing Nichiren Buddhism and striving together for peace.
As a member of the “Soka 21st Century Renunciation of War Group,” I deeply pledged that the United States would develop a dialogue-based diplomacy and lead the world in the direction of happiness and peace.