The Hiroshima Study Lecture Series for Peace

Hiroshima Soka Gakkai has run lectures and courses on peace, culture and education since the 1970s. The Hiroshima Study Lecture Series was launched in 1989 based on a powerful idea: wanting to bequeath future generations with the spirit of peace and the heart of Hiroshima. The project has grown into a series of lectures on peace, planned and organized by young adults. A diverse range of learned speakers deliver messages for the sake of the youth and of the future.

Students Peace Awareness Survey

This survey, conducted since 1994, targets male and female students attending universities and vocational schools in Hiroshima and elsewhere in the Chugoku region. It is held about once a year. Notably, it is conducted via face-to-face interviews. In 2015, 70 years after being bombed, the 20th such survey was performed. We see the survey’s significance in the following three aspects:

  1. The idea to study awareness of peace originally came from the students themselves.
  2. It stimulates thinking about peace both among the interviewers and the respondents and informs them of the importance of taking action.
  3. The continuous nature of the survey allows us to statistically observe peace awareness trends among youth.

Some questions appear in the survey every year, such as: “Atomic bombs were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. What was the date of each bombing?” “Have you directly heard a firsthand account of an atomic bomb survivor?” “What is your opinion about the existence of nuclear weapons?”

Other questions are included in response to the state of society at that time. This survey design highlights how students’ awareness changes.

Professor Tadaakira Jo of Hiroshima Shudo University offers the following feedback about the survey. “Raising awareness about peace and individuals taking concrete actions are the driving force behind efforts to build world peace. That impetus depends in particular on what young people, including students, learn from history and how that learning can guide them onto the sure path. Closing one’s eyes to regrettable episodes in history and pretending they didn’t happen leads directly to repeating the mistakes of the past. I am impressed that these students, our future leaders, have been unceasing in carrying on their action for peace. For both the students conducting the survey and the respondents, I consider it an important opportunity to think about peace.”

Library of Testimonies by Atomic Bomb Survivors

Sixty years after the end of World War II, the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Women’s Peace Committee embarked on an effort to preserve and record this history by collecting video footage of the war’s survivors telling their stories. The video recordings contain the testimonies of 186 people, who tell of such events as the atomic bombing, evacuations, the wartime mobilization of Japanese children, and the air raids.

Collection of Atomic Bombing Testimonies and Antiwar Publications

Recording memories of the brutality of the war and retelling them is the first step for preventing war and promoting peace among future generations. “To the Generations Who Do Not Know War” is an 80-volume compilation of testimonies and notes by 3,400 survivors of the war from all 47 of Japan’s prefectures. It was created by the Soka Gakkai Youth Division. Over 4,000 high schoolers from across Japan were involved in the 12-year compilation process. Hiroshima Soka Gakkai, meanwhile, interviews atomic bomb survivors on their experiences. These records have been compiled into a collection of atomic bombing testimonies and antiwar publications that number more than ten volumes. They also include English versions.

Hiroshima Peace Prize

Put an end to the “century of war”, in order to go to a new era shining the “century of peace,” “century of life”, in 1999, established the “Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Peace Prize”. We have honor intellectuals have contributed to the development of peace, culture and education of the world. Is No. 1, as a reconstruction adviser of the bombed city Hiroshima, proposed the establishment of planning and Peace Research Institute of Peace Park, was

Antiwar Youth Summit

The inaugural Annual Youth Peace Summit convened in 1989. A joint supreme committee representing the Chugoku and Shikoku areas was organized by Seikyo Shimbunsha. SGI President Ikeda was in attendance when the committee finalized the decision to hold the first summit in August of that year. The summit is held almost every year. There, young people from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa engage in lively discussions on achieving world peace. Even as the times change, the summit maintains the purpose of building solidarity between youths who seek peace. The “three-prefecture peace summit” (the 24th Annual Youth Peace Summit) was held in Okinawa in June 2015 by Youth Division representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa. There, SGI President Ikeda delivered an address in which he proposed a new start as the “Antiwar Youth Summit.” All present voted in favor of the proposal. Thus, the new Antiwar Youth Summit was held 70 years after the end of World War II. At the summit, youths from the three prefectures report to each other on the results of their work. They also take a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and hear lectures from survivors of the war. The summit is a venue that inspires participants to help advance peace movements in the future.

Peace Festival

Hiroshima Soka Gakkai spreads the spirit of peace through culture and music every ten years since the atomic bombing. At the 1975 festival, 30 years after being bombed, the 800 or so guests included Soka Gakkai members from abroad, along with members of the business community and cultural figures. They were among the gathering of approximately 10,000 people who came as representatives from across Japan. Then President Ikeda gave a speech covering a wide array of topics: 1) health and youth, 2) the basic spirit of Soka Gakkai, 3) proposals for dealing with the problem of nuclear weapons, 4) religion and the outlook for humanity, 5) his views on the economic crisis, and 6) Soka Gakkai’s role in society. Mr. Ikeda’s proposals concerning the issue of nuclear weapons consisted of three suggestions to work toward their abolition. Meanwhile, the second World Youth Peace Music Festival was held in 2015, 70 years after the atomic bombing. There were 8,000 young people in the audience, who all passionately sang the original song, “Heiwa (Shiawase) wa Itsumo Kokoro ni Aru” (Peace [happiness] is always in the heart). It was a fitting stage to open up the new decade in our struggle: SGI President Ikeda delivered an address, calling on his audience to take up the banner of peace he had so resolutely upheld, while 8,000 men and women in the youth and the Mirai (future leaders) divisions from the Chugoku region’s prefectures put on dynamic performances.

Hibakusha Stories Symposium

Every year the Hibakusha Stories Symposium, organized since July 2004 by the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Women’s Peace Committee, invites atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha in Japanese) as lecturers. Furthermore, the Fukuyama Women’s Peace Committee has held the Hibakusha and Fukuyama Air Raid Survivors Stories Symposium since 2012. The symposiums provide a valuable experience, as today we have few opportunities to hear from those who personally experienced the atomic bombing. Each year the events draw more participants. Shoso Kawamoto, who was orphaned by the atomic bomb, told his story at the thirteenth symposium in 2016. Mr. Kawamoto was among the children mobilized by the Japanese government for the war effort. Three days after Hiroshima was bombed, he returned from his assignment to visit his family home located 600 meters from the hypocenter. There he was exposed to radiation. The atomic bomb took away Mr. Kawamoto’s parents and turned him into an orphan. He was 11 years old at the time. “How did all those orphans in the city survive? I want you to know the barbarity of war. Because that will prevent any more children from being orphaned by an atomic bomb,” he said. Learning from the experiences of the hibakusha and passing on Hiroshima’s spirit of peace to build a Partnership of Peace. The Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Women’s Peace Committee is using the emotional strength of women to continue holding exhibitions and further expend their network of peace.

Peace Committees

Peace committees are segmented into men, women, boys, girls, and students. In their activities they study SGI President Ikeda’s peace proposals and hold joint study sessions on the current state of the effort to abolish nuclear weapons. They also spread the spirit of peace as they work on publishing accounts of the atomic bombing. The International Youth Summit and Public Forum for Nuclear Abolition was held in the City of Hiroshima on August 30, 2015. They joined with young people from other countries to have a lively discussion on how to eradicate nuclear weapons. In addition to the summit participants from 23 countries, the 250 attendees included: Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Yasuyoshi Komizo, chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation; and videographer and atomic bombing survivor Masaaki Tanabe. At the summit, the participants formed a consensus on announcing a “Youth Pledge” calling for action to rid the world of nuclear weapons, which they then handed to Envoy Alhendawi. Prior to the public forum, 30 men and women in their 20s and 30s gathered from around the world on August 28-29 for an earnest conference on abolishing nuclear weapons. A welcome reception was held for them on the evening of the 28th at the Hiroshima Ikeda Peace Memorial Hall. This exemplifies how the peace committees play a central role in creating solidary among the world’s youth and spurring action for the sake of peace.