Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928), president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), issued a statement on Wednesday calling for urgent caution in the use and handling of nuclear weapons. The statement, which recounts many of the horrors of the 20th century, calls on all parties to bring about the swiftest possible end to the conflict in Ukraine.
Ikeda’s words focused on the cruelty and suffering caused by war in all of its forms, and his hopes to once again see peace in Ukraine:
The Ukraine crisis that erupted in February last year continues with no prospect for cessation. The intensified hostilities have inflicted great suffering in population centers and destroyed infrastructure facilities, compelling large numbers of civilians, including many children and women, to live in a state of constant peril. More than 7.9 million people have been forced to find refuge in countries throughout Europe, and some 5.9 million have been internally displaced.
The history of the twentieth century, which witnessed the horrors caused by two global conflicts, should have brought home the lesson that nothing is more cruel or miserable than war.
The war, called a “special military operation” by the Russian government, began on 24 February 2022 as Russian missiles hit across Ukraine, followed by massive numbers of troops entering the country. The war is a continuation of hostilities that date back at least to 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
As Ikeda’s statement points out, the hostilities have brought with them untold horrors for the people of Ukraine:
This year marks eighty-five years since the adoption by the League of Nations General Assembly of a resolution on the protection of civilians from aerial bombardment. It is also the seventy-fifth anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which expressed the shared vow to bring about a new era in which human dignity would never again be trampled and abused.
Recalling the commitment to protect life and dignity that undergirds International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, I urge all parties to bring about the earliest possible end to the present conflict.
Together with calling for the earliest possible resolution to the Ukraine crisis, I wish to stress the crucial importance of implementing measures to prevent the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, both in the current crisis and all future conflicts.
Ikeda, who is 95 years old, also recounted his memories of the firebombing of Tokyo and the loss of his older brother, who died in battle after being drafted into the Japanese military.
Ikeda observes about the Cold War: “Having experienced firsthand the terror of teetering on the brink of nuclear war, the people of that time brought forth historic powers of imagination and creativity.” (Soka Gakkai) This resulted in groundbreaking initiatives, such as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the US and the Soviet Union.
Ikeda calls for an urgent meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and other key nations to work toward a cessation of hostilities. He also urges states to pledge a “No First Use” doctrine with regard to nuclear weapons, saying that this in itself, along with the draw-down of nuclear-ready weapons, could help to avert a possibly catastrophic accident.
This statement follows decades of nuclear non-proliferation activism on the part of Ikeda. He and the Soka Gakkai International members have been strong advocates for numerous global peace initiatives.
Soka Gakkai was founded in 1930 in Japan and is based on the teachings of the 13th century Buddhist priest Nichiren (1222–82). Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, believed to be a record of the teachings of the Buddha near the end of his life. Members of the Soka Gakkai are known for their chanting of the mantra “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” (“Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra”) as a core devotional practice.
Ikeda founded the Soka Gakkai International in 1975 at a world peace conference in Guam. Since 1983 it has been a non-governmental organization (NGO) in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC).
Statement on the Ukraine Crisis and No First Use of Nuclear Weapons (Daisaku Ikeda)
SGI President Issues Statement on Crisis in Ukraine and Calls for “No First Use” of Nuclear Weapons Pledge (Soka Gakkai)
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