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New Guam Center Sends Fresh Waves of Peace

Beacon for global peace—Members gather for the grand opening of the SGI Guam Ikeda Peace and Culture Center, Tamuning, Guam, January 2023. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

“The door to a new age will not open as long as we wait for it to happen. We must open it ourselves, through our own dauntless and courageous actions.”[1] —Ikeda Sensei

TAMUNING, Guam—The long-awaited SGI Guam Ikeda Peace and Culture Center opened on Jan. 21, 2023, in a ceremony overflowing with resolve to send fresh waves of peace into the world toward the SGI’s semicentennial in 2025.

A delegation from Japan attended the grand opening on behalf of Ikeda Sensei, led by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada and Soka Gakkai Senior Vice President Yoshiki Tanigawa.

In a message to the meeting, Ikeda Sensei offered his sincerest congratulations to the members on the center’s opening, saying he felt as though he and Mrs. Ikeda were attending the event alongside them.

Calling Guam “an island of everlasting summer that holds many fond memories for us,” Sensei continued:

This center is the crystallization of your noble efforts over many years. It is also symbolic of the happiness and good fortune that is sure to blossom ever more fragrantly, like the beautiful flowers of Guam. Furthermore, your efforts reflect the significance of the Daishonin’s words, “the farther the source, the longer the stream.”[2] You are accruing benefits beyond measure through your daily struggles to keep the hope that springs from the Soka Gakkai International’s founding flowing in abundance. (See full message on p. 5)

Guam was chosen as the symbolic starting point of the SGI’s endeavors to advance world peace, when, 48 years ago on Jan. 26, 1975, 158 representatives from 51 countries and territories gathered in Tamuning for the First World Peace Conference at the International Trade Center Building.

Here, on the Pacific island of Guam, the site of intense fighting during the Pacific War, the group established the Soka Gakkai International, naming Daisaku Ikeda as its president.

The conference marked the first time that representative members from around the world had come together, transcending differences in race, ethnicity and customs, to make a shared pledge for peace.

In the event guestbook, Sensei wrote his name and, recalling the commitment to global citizenship of his mentor, Josei Toda, listed as his nationality “The World.”

This center will be ‘a lighthouse for the world.’

This Jan. 21, more than 180 members from SGI-USA’s Marianas Region filled the auditorium. Adorned in beautiful island dress, they overflowed with the familial warmth and pride they share with Sensei as the SGI’s starting point.

Marianas Region women’s leader, Kathy Alegria, gives opening words at the commemorative meeting.

Kathy Alegria, the region women’s leader, said in her opening words that the members in Guam and Saipan had been holding united chanting sessions since May 2021 to prepare for the event, and had planted more than 1,100 seeds of the Mystic Law in their communities toward the opening.

Ms. Alegria deeply thanked the pioneers for laying the foundation of kosen-rufu on the island and, most especially, Sensei and Mrs. Ikeda for spreading Buddhism throughout the world for the happiness of all people.

“This castle of kosen-rufu will be a beacon of hope and courage for all people, members and guests alike,” she said. “It will be a lantern in the dark for those searching for a path to happiness and a lighthouse for the world symbolizing they can make the impossible possible by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”

In his address to the members, Soka Gakkai President Harada welcomed the members heartily with the CHamoru greeting “Håfa Adai!” adding “Håfa tatatmanu hamyo?” or “How are you?”

President Harada recalled attending the SGI’s founding in January 1975 alongside Sensei and the representatives, calling it “a golden memory I shall cherish for a lifetime.”

Why did Sensei choose Guam as the stage for the SGI’s establishment? President Harada cited a passage from The New Human Revolution, in which Sensei explains his resolve “to somehow make Guam, a place that had suffered so terribly from the ravages of war, into a beacon for global peace.”[3]

“Replying to Sensei’s commitment, the members in Guam have engaged in a ceaseless struggle with sincerity and perseverance, securing irrefutable victory after victory to this day,” President Harada said. “This new center stands as a symbol of their triumph and resolve for peace” (see full message on pp. 6–7).

Executive Advisor Danny Nagashima to support Guam members toward the 50th anniversary. 

President Harada announced to great applause that SGI-USA Executive Advisor Danny Nagashima will move to Guam for two years to support Marianas Region as they prepare for the 50th anniversary of the SGI’s founding in 2025.

Mr. Nagashima will be stationed at the new Guam center, a world-class, energy-
efficient building designed to welcome visitors from throughout the world. The building, located next to the International Trade Center Building where the January 1975 meeting was held, opens to a two-story atrium lobby, and encompasses 16,000 feet of meeting space, including three chanting rooms, a videoconference room and a spacious bookstore.

SGI leaders and dignitaries of Guam open the “In Pursuit of Peace” exhibit, Tamuning, Guam, Jan. 21, 2023. Photo by Yvonne Ng

The second floor features the 5,000-foot exhibition “In Pursuit of Peace,” which tells the story of the SGI’s establishment as well as the history of the advancement of kosen-rufu on the island.

The exhibition, the largest of its kind for any SGI-USA Buddhist center, was opened earlier the same day in a ceremony attended by President Harada, Mr. Tanigawa, SGI-USA representative leaders and local dignitaries.

Created in partnership with the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA), the group sent a letter of congratulations to Sensei for both the 48th anniversary of the SGI’s establishment and his inauguration as its president. “We celebrate the opening of the ‘In Pursuit of Peace’ exhibition as a symbol of our friendship,” CAHA director Sandra Selk Flores said in the letter.

Members rejoice at the opening of their new center. Photo by Yvonne Ng.

‘Dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace.’

Local members toured the exhibit, with many stopping to enjoy a section on the history of kosen-rufu in the Marianas, with photos of activities across decades.

In 1961, the first member in Guam joined the Soka Gakkai while visiting Japan. There, she encountered Sensei, who encouraged her to maintain lifelong faith. A year later, Typhoon Karen destroyed 95 percent of the structures on the island, leaving at least 45,000 people homeless. In its aftermath, a group of five women began taking substantial steps to propagate Buddhism.

The formation of Guam District was reported in the April 17, 1965, issue of the World Tribune. Hagåtña District followed in January 1967. In 1968, the local members began to spread Buddhism on the island of Saipan. By October 1970, the first Gohonzon
conferral ceremony to welcome new members was held on Guam.

In the years since, the SGI has become a welcomed community in the Mariana Islands. The SGI-USA has donated books and supplies to numerous schools and libraries, held conferences, festivals and exhibitions on peace, human rights and the environment, and partnered with elementary schools on projects focused on art and peace.

As participants departed the center, each received a copy of Sensei’s poem “Peace—The Foundation for Lasting Human Happiness”[4] and a commemorative gold coin imprinted with “New Waves of Peace,” the theme of the 1975 meeting.

Cleo Blumer, a Guam native who traveled from Leesburg, Florida, to attend the ceremony, called the new center “a vision that became a reality.”

Ms. Blumer said she talks with people about Buddhism wherever she goes, and has helped nearly 40 people join the SGI. “I feel it in my heart,” she said. “This is how we’re going to have peace.”

The sentiment of all who attended was best crystallized in the words that Sensei spoke 48 years ago at the SGI’s founding, emblazoned on the plaque that greets every visitor when they walk into the building: “Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same.”[5]

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

Feb. 10, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 2–3


  1. Ikeda Sensei, The New Human Revolution, vol. 20, p. 1. ↩︎
  2. “The Farther the Source, the Longer the Stream,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 940. ↩︎
  3. NHR-21, 6–7. ↩︎
  4. June 29, 2007, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎
  5. NHR-21, 33. ↩︎

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