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“Toward a New Era Of Peace and Disarmament”

A group of teenagers are sitting in front of a wall covered in graffiti. They are wearing stylish clothes. A boy and girl are looking at a smartphone screen together.

SGI President Ikeda stresses urgent action toward disarmament and calls on young people to resist feelings of resignation and “meet the severe challenges of our age as agents of proactive and contagious change.”

TOKYO, Jan. 26—Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher and president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), issued his 37th annual peace proposal, “Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach.”

The proposal’s main theme is the need for concerted effort in disarmament, particularly hastening progress toward the abolition of nuclear weapons around the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). President Ikeda also stresses the dangers of emerging Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) and proposes the prompt convening of a conference to negotiate a treaty banning these weapons, often referred to as “killer robots.”

Applauding the May 2018 Disarmament Agenda of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, President Ikeda advocates a shift from seeing security solely in terms of state or military security toward a human focus, a people-centered multilateralism based on the effort to build a world in which all people can experience meaningful security.

He notes how the complexity and scale of global challenges can make youth feel that positive change is impossible. He calls on young people to resist feelings of resignation and “meet the severe challenges of our age as agents of proactive and contagious change.”

The SGI president urges youth engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as crucial to their achievement. He calls for expansion of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) network of universities committed to supporting the SDGs through research and teaching programs, and proposes the convening of a world conference of such universities in 2020.

President Ikeda also welcomes the designation of youth as the focus of the fourth phase of the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

Regarding nuclear abolition, he focuses on expanding the scope of ratification of the TPNW to achieve its entry into force, and urges the creation of a group of like-minded states to deepen the debate and promote ratification—Friends of the TPNW, modeled after Friends of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

President Ikeda advocates that Japan take the lead in this initiative, stating, “Since Japan has declared its desire to serve as a bridge between the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states, it makes sense that it should take the initiative in creating a venue for such dialogue.”

He also highlights the new Cities Appeal initiated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and its related #ICANSave social media initiative.

Looking ahead toward the 2020 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he calls for steps such as the removal of nuclear warheads from high-alert status. He further proposes that a fourth special session of the U.N. General Assembly devoted to disarmament (SSOD-IV) be held in 2021.

Another focus is SDGs concerned with water resource management. President Ikeda hopes that Japan will apply its experience to the resolution of water-related problems in Northeast Asia and regional confidence building, and that Japan, China and South Korea will work together to offer support to countries in the Middle East and Africa where there is growing demand for water reuse and desalination.

The article was adapted from

Every year since 1983, Daisaku Ikeda has issued proposals to the international community offering a Buddhist perspective and solutions to global problems. He is a philosopher, author, peacebuilder and president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a community-based network promoting Buddhist humanism and peace with 12 million members around the world. His annual proposals are issued on Jan. 26 to commemorate the founding of the SGI.

Honoring President Toda’s Legacy: Feb. 11, 1900–April 2, 1958

Feb. 11 marks the 119th anniversary of the birth of Josei Toda, who became the second Soka Gakkai president on May 3, 1951. Nuclear disarmament was among his final injunctions to the youth before his passing.

On Sept. 8, 1957, he delivered this impassioned call before 50,000 Soka Gakkai youth in Yokohama, Japan (see photo). In his speech, titled Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, President Toda entrusted the youth with the mission to spread the humanistic ideals of Nichiren Buddhism throughout society as a means to fulfill his vision and dream to “rid the world of misery,” which ultimately stems from disrespecting human life.

On the Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

On Sept. 8, 1957, Josei Toda, the second president of the Soka Gakkai and the man I look to as my mentor in life, issued a declaration calling for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. This was just months before his death; he poured his entire being into making this declaration.

This was at the height of the Cold War, and the competition to develop and deploy nuclear weapons was heating up. Yet Toda condemned—in powerful, even strident, language—the destructive human impulses that underlie these weapons. Rooted in the perspective of Buddhism, which seeks to shed light on the inner workings of life itself, Toda denounced anyone who would use these weapons to jeopardize people’s fundamental right to live as a “devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster” (see A Quest for Global Peace, p. 124). Toda had the insight to understand that the logic that justifies the possession of nuclear weapons grows from the most extreme form of human desire—the desire to dominate and bend others to our will, the readiness to annihilate them, destroying their lives and livelihoods, should they resist.

Toda solemnly entrusted the mission of achieving the abolition of nuclear weapons to the 50,000 young people who had gathered in Yokohama, Japan, to hear him on that day …

While humanity managed to avert the global cataclysm that was an immediate danger throughout the Cold War, efforts toward nuclear disarmament are now stalled, and the threat posed by the continued spread of nuclear weapons has become critical. Now is the time, in the midst of this deepening crisis, for ordinary citizens to raise our voices in a united call for nuclear abolition. Now is the time to forge a new culture of peace in which the human dignity of all can truly shine.

—SGI President Ikeda, from the Sept. 28, 2007, World Tribune, p. 2

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