HIROSHIMA: Seventy-one years ago, on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb used in wartime was dropped on Hiroshima. For the Soka Gakkai Buddhist association, the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons has been continuing for nearly 60 years.
In addition to the group’s ongoing program of around 170 peace lectures held in Hiroshima featuring local and international experts, this year has seen a particular focus on events organized by youth.
On July 31, 2016, two thousand youth gathered for the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Peace Forum, where hibakusha Chisako Takeoka, 88, shared what happened to her on that day. Describing the agony her mother went through after the bombing when she had to have her eye removed with no painkillers, she said, “I will never forget the sound of her scream.” Mrs. Takeoka’s own daughter Mariko Higashino also spoke, announcing that she has been selected to travel to 21 countries with the NGO Peace Boat to share her mother’s story. The young participants then resolved to start taking action in their own lives to help create a peaceful world. Some shared their own experiences of involvement in peace activities, there was a dance performance and children’s chorus groups sang an original song.
On July 30 and 31, the 25th annual Youth Peace Summit was held in Hiroshima, where young members of the Soka Gakkai from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa came together to discuss ways to pass on war experiences to the next generation and develop a lasting peace movement.
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda expressed his expectations in a message to the participants: “During his recent visit to Hiroshima, President of the United States Barack Obama asserted, ‘The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution,’ and called for ‘the courage to escape the logic of fear’ in pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons. I hope that you young people will work to awaken the consciousness of humankind, transform the currents of history and put an end to the nuclear age together with people throughout the world.”
The Soka Gakkai will also hold memorial services for the victims of the atomic bombings, the war dead of Asia and all who have died in war on August 6 in Hiroshima and on August 9 in Nagasaki, the second city to experience the horror of a nuclear attack.
The Soka Gakkai International is a socially engaged Buddhist organization promoting peace, culture and education with a membership of approximately 12 million around the globe. The SGI’s activities to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons include exhibitions, collecting testimonies of survivors and cohosting interfaith symposiums. In August 2015 the SGI joined with other NGOs to hold an International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition in Hiroshima.