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. Over 160 people have spoken for the Hiroshima Study Lecture Series of Peace, including: Joseph Rotblat, former President of the Pugwash Conferences; Frederik Willem de Klerk, former President of the Republic of South Africa; and Oscar Arias Sánchez, former President of Costa Rica.
Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, spoke at the 166th Hiroshima Study Lecture. He noted that young people, meaning those under the age of 25, make up approximately half the world’s population. Mr. Alhendawi also pointed out that even though they are the most easily influenced age group, young people currently have little engagement in the field of peace and security, where the United Nations is directing its efforts. He then made a powerful case for the youth to unite and lead the international community toward disarmament. Furthermore, Mr. Alhendawi argued that now, 70 years since the atomic bombings, it is imperative that we transform our culture away from the use of weapons. He stated that Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities that have redirected the anger and suffering caused by their atomic bombings toward a message of peace, are the most fitting places from which to spread peace around the world. This lecture series is also very moving and stimulating for participants in that the themes extend beyond the experiences of atomic bomb survivors and questions concerning the humanity of our cultures, but have also branched out into the numerous topics of global concern which our speakers from around the world address.
Lectured in July 1995, on aiming for a 21st century free of nuclear weapons “
Mr. Rotblat stated that the notion of nuclear deterrence as being an illusion, and that in reality, it is those nuclear weapons that are the enemy to world security. He was adamant that it was possible to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, without which, there would be no 21st century.
Born 1908 in Poland. Graduated University of Warsaw and subsequently joined the U.S.’s Manhattan (making of an atomic bomb) Project. Withdrew from the project in 1944, arguing that the development of an atomic bomb should be abandoned. Following the war, helped draft the Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955), becoming one of its signees. Involved in founding the Pugwash Conferences in1957, serving as its first secretary general and president, and for several terms thereafter, campaigning for the movement to abolish nuclear weapons. Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.
Lectured in July 2005 on 60 years after the atomic bombing—the current state of human security.
To eliminate nuclear weapons and warfare, it is especially important to educate the youth on the “Culture of Peace.” Daisaku Ikeda, the president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) actively promotes this idea of peace through education, calling, together with SGI, 60 years after being A-bombed, free the world of nuclear weapons.
Born 1925 in India. After completing a Ph.D in genetics at the University of Cambridge in England, served as Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and other posts. Gave impetus to the “green revolution” with the development and spread of high-yielding seed varieties in the 1960s, and is credited as the father of modern Indian agriculture, who solved Asia’s food crisis. Former Pugwash Conferences president.
Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize in 1993
Lectured in November 2010 on nuclear disarmament and South Africa Mr. de Klerk spoke on the course of nuclear disarmament in his home country, overcoming considerable resistance to become a reality. He stressed that the keys to this were removing the sense of threat from within people’s hearts and promoting dialogue towards peace to generate trust. He opined that now was the time for the younger generations to boldly stand up for world issues.
Born 1936 in the Republic of South Africa. After graduating university, practiced as an attorney and subsequently elected member of the House of Assembly. Elected president in 1989. Adopted democratic reforms, bringing about the dismantling of apartheid laws. Later served as Deputy President during the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Lectured in November 2010 on the abolition of nuclear weapons and a sustainable future
Mr. Dhanapala emphasized that the Pugwash Conferences and SGI have both consistently advocated for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the postwar period. He stated that nuclear weapons were inhumane and unlawful, calling for the need to establish a Nuclear Weapons Convention as soon as possible, and appealed for the help of young people like themselves.
Born 1938 in Sri Lanka. Educated at Trinity College, Sri Lanka’s top educational institution. Served as a diplomat, with posts at London, Beijing, and Geneva, among others. Also served as Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research and Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, and more. Former Pugwash Conferences president.
Lectured in November 2010 on aiming for a world without violence
Drawing from her past efforts to help end the Northern Ireland conflict, Mrs. Maguire appealed that the only way to create peace is through dialogue that connects the hearts of individuals, not through violence. Furthermore, while answering questions from the young audience, she expressed her belief that Japanese youth, born in the only nation to be hit with atomic bombs, have the power to convince the world to abolish nuclear weapons.
Born 1944 in Northern Ireland. Her sister and her sister’s three children were killed amid the violence of the Northern Ireland conflict. Subsequently became involved in the peace movement, establishing the grassroots organization, Peace People, together with Northern Irish peace activist Betty Williams and others in 1976. Calling for a cease to conflict and an end to violence, she has made waves internationally. Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
Lectured in March 2014 on hope and the value of life
Dr. Sanchez reflected on the story of the Children’s Peace Monument, stating that he would like to pray in memory of the child victims in Hiroshima so that such flames of violence will never rain down upon humanity again. Furthermore, he expressed his belief that we cannot stand idle until nuclear weapons are eliminated from the face of the earth.
Born 1940, in Costa Rica. Earned a Ph.D in political science from the University of Essex. Served as minister of national planning and political economy for the Republic of Costa Rica. Became Costa Rica’s 43rd President in 1986. Helped promote peace in Central America. Established the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress in 1988. Was re-elected as the 48th President in 2006, and helped promote peace activities. Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.