In response to an increasingly unstable global political landscape, the president of the socially engaged Japanese Nichiren Buddhist organization the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), Daisaku Ikeda, on Thursday issued a statement calling on leaders of the G7 nations to take the lead during the upcoming G7 summit in reinforcing a global commitment toward “No First Use” of nuclear weapons, and calling for bold steps to end the hostilities in Ukraine.
The G7 leaders are scheduled to gather in Japan, which holds this year’s G7 presidency, on 19–21 May for the G7 Hiroshima Summit 2023. Leaders from eight nations outside the G7 framework, and representatives from seven international organizations have been invited to attend the conference, which will focus on, among other agenda items, the war in Ukraine and the global food and climate crises. Japan is also reported to be hoping to take the opportunity to discuss relations with emerging and developing economies, collectively known as the Global South.
“Mr. Ikeda, who has been advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons for more than 60 years, hopes that for the G7 leaders, visiting Hiroshima and being exposed to the reality of the devastating humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons will awaken their resolve to rid the world of these inhumane weapons,” the Soka Gakkai told BDG.
In his statement dated 27 April, which cautions that the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons is being eroded among the nuclear-weapon states, and that frameworks for managing and reducing nuclear arsenals are verging on collapse, Ikeda notes: “As the G7 leaders revisit the actual consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation and the bitter lessons of the nuclear era, I urge that they initiate earnest deliberations on making pledges of No First Use so that their shared recognition of the inadmissible nature of nuclear weapons can find expression in changed policies.” (Soka Gakkai International)
On the crisis in Ukraine, the veteran peace-builder’s statement emphasizes that the Hiroshima Summit should provide a “prescription for hope” through a united resolution for an immediate cessation of attacks on civilian infrastructure and for the development concrete plans for negotiations to halt all hostilities. Ikeda also stresses that representatives of civil society—such as physicians and educators, who protect people’s lives and futures—should join the negotiations as observers.
“Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the hibakusha* of those cities, in coordination with the larger civil society movement, have stressed the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons; non-nuclear-weapon states have engaged in continuous diplomatic efforts; and the states possessing nuclear weapons have exercised self-restraint. As a result, the world has somehow managed to maintain a 77-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons,” Ikeda writes. (Soka Gakkai International)
“It is said that the darker the night, the closer the dawn, and the end of the Cold War demonstrated the scale of energy unleashed when people who refuse to be defeated unite in solidarity,” Ikeda observes. “Today, amid a political climate that some are even calling “a new cold war,” it is my fervent wish that constructive discussions that present a prescription for hope be undertaken at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima. I would also like to declare: Now is the time! Let us once again change the course of history through the power of people, paving a path toward a world free from nuclear weapons, a world free from war.” (Soka Gakkai International)
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.
* Survivors of the US atomic bombings.
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