Responding to the tragic scale of escalating violence being inflicted in Gaza, the Soka Gakkai Council on Peace Issues, part of the socially engaged Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), has issued a public statement calling for peace and for compassionate humanitarian assistance for the civilians caught in the crossfire of this devastating conflict.
“On 26 October, the Soka Gakkai Council on Peace Issues put out a statement on the situation in the Middle East, adding support to appeals by the international community for the safe release of all hostages, the protection of civilians based on international humanitarian law, and a humanitarian ceasefire to enable provision of vitally needed assistance,” SGI official Joan Anderson told BDG from Tokyo.
The statement, which bears the names of council chair Yoshiki Tanigawa, who also serves as the senior vice president of Soka Gakkai, and council vice chair Shinobu Sugimoto, is reproduced below.
As the confrontation involving Israel and the Gaza Strip and its attendant risks rapidly escalates, we are deeply concerned for the safety of those who have been taken hostage and heartbroken by the loss of civilian lives, including women and children, on an unprecedented scale.
In the intensifying conflict, countless ordinary people have lost the basis of their livelihoods and been plunged into a grave humanitarian crisis.
As Buddhists whose core value is the dignity of life, we sincerely pray for an immediate ceasefire, and hope that efforts will be focused on ensuring people’s safety and restoring peace.
We add our voices to appeals by the international community for the safe release of all hostages, the protection of civilians based on international humanitarian law, and a humanitarian ceasefire to enable provision of vitally needed assistance.
If the situation is allowed to worsen, the result will be even greater human suffering and an even graver humanitarian crisis. Intensified cycles of hatred could then bring about further horrors.
Above all, it is unacceptable that children in Israel and Gaza have lost their lives and are living under constant threat. As UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has commented, “A child is a child. Children everywhere must be protected at all times and must never come under attack.” We must not lose sight of this principle under any circumstances.
We strongly pray for the earliest possible release of the hostages, and urge that the international community work to protect the lives, dignity and livelihoods of those trapped in this humanitarian crisis by realizing a de-escalation of tensions and the cessation of hostilities.
Seperately, SGI’s Anderson also shared that Tanigawa had headed a delegation to China from 22–24 October to participate in events marking the 45th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Japan and to hold discussions aimed at strengthening Sino-Japanese relations and promoting peace.
Founded in 1930, the Soka Gakkai (the Value Creation Society) is a Japanese Buddhist movement based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–82). Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, believed to contain the teachings of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, toward the end of his life, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment. Soka Gakkai centers its teachings on the Lotus Sutra, with recitation of the mantra “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra”) as its main devotional practice.
The Soka Gakkai International, founded by Daisaku Ikeda in 1975, is an NGO with consultative status to UN ECOSOC. As a global community-based Buddhist organization that promotes peace, culture, and education based on respect for the dignity of life, the Soka Gakkai is involved in peace activism, education, and politics, with members in 192 countries and territories around the world.
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