SGI Significant Dates
The Establishment of Nichiren Buddhism
Soka Gakkai Day
Celebrating the History of Soka Gakkai's Antinuclear Movement
SGI World Peace Day
Inscription of the Dai-Gohonzon
Soka Gakkai Founding Day
September 8 - Celebrating the History of Soka Gakkai's Antinuclear Movement
On September 8 in 1957, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda made a Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons at a youth division athletic event held at the Mitsuzawa Athletic Stadium in Yokohama. In his speech, he condemned the use of nuclear weapons, describing them as an absolute evil threatening the survival of the human race and called on the youth of the future to see that these weapons be abolished.
It was an event of tremendous historical importance from the standpoint of the eternal and fundamental spirit of the Soka Gakkai as well as an imperishable guideline for all humanity. This declaration later became a basis for the Soka Gakkai’s movement for peace.
It was the height of the cold war and the major powers were frantically absorbed in a nuclear arms race, competing against each other to develop, test and stock nuclear weapons under the pretext of nuclear deterrence. President Toda felt that such thinking was itself a product of the devilish nature inherent in human beings. If such a concept is accepted and embraced, nations will be caught in nuclear stockpiles, which would eventually balloon into a scale capable of destroying the entire planet.
Rather than viewing it from the standpoint of ideology, nationality and ethnic identity, President Toda felt that it is far more important to view it from the universal dimension of humanity. Nuclear weapons must be recognized as an absolute evil, a threat to humanity’s very right to exist. In the name of humanity, whoever uses a weapon of such ultimate barbaric nature must never be excused or forgiven. This conviction, this way of thinking, must pervade the entire globe.
President Toda wished to inspire upon the 50,000 youth present, the belief that since human being created the atomic bomb, human beings must also ensure its abolition. Sensing that the end of his life was drawing near, he intended the declaration to be the first of his final prescripts that he would entrust his precious disciples in the youth division.
“I hope that, as my disciples, you will inherit the declaration I am about to make today and, to the best of your ability, spread its intent throughout the world.” [HR Vol 2, p.1779]
President Toda sensed that the only way to defeat this devilish tendency was through the power of Buddha nature also inherent in people’s lives. Therefore, he entrusted the youth with the task of inspiring this conviction in others, urging them to conduct dialogue based on a belief in people’s Buddha nature, to address that Buddha nature and communicate to them the absolute evil of nuclear weapons. It was his fervent wish that the power of youth would put a stop to and vanquish the devilish impulses that threaten humanity’s very right to existence.
President Toda continued:
“Although a movement calling for a ban on the testing of atomic or nuclear weapons has arisen around the world, it is my wish to go further, to attack the problem at its root. I want to expose and rip out the claws that lie hidden in the very depths of such weapons. I wish to declare that anyone who ventures to use nuclear weapons, irrespective of their nationality or whether their country is victorious or defeated, should be sentenced to death without exception.
Why do I say this? Because we, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live. Anyone who jeopardizes that right is a devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster. I propose that humankind applies, in every case, the death penalty to anyone responsible for using nuclear weapons, even if that person is on the winning side.
Even if a country should conquer the world through the use of nuclear weapons, the conquerors must be viewed as devils, as evil incarnate. I believe that it is the mission of every member of the youth division in Japan to disseminate this idea throughout the globe.”
Although President Toda proposed a death penalty for those using nuclear bombs, it did not mean he was affirming or advocating the death penalty as a general means of punishment. In fact, as a Buddhist whose first and foremost conviction was the sanctity of life, he absolutely opposed capital punishment. He is, in this case, advocating that the use of nuclear bomb is a crime of absolute evil deserving of the highest punishment possible. His bold call for the death penalty was meant to crush the tendency within people’s minds to justify the use of nuclear bombs. In a way, he was passing a sentence of death on the devilish tendencies dwelling within human life itself.
It was deeply significant that President Toda made the first of his final prescripts to the youth in the form of a declaration against nuclear weapons. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is a religion that exists for the people; the fulfillment of its religious mission to establish the correct teaching must be accompanied by the construction of a peaceful land.
From that very day, President Ikeda began to search with desperate earnest for a way to spread President Toda’s conviction throughout the world.
The day I heard President Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, I was electrified. I resolved, as his disciple, to spend the rest of my life spreading his message throughout the world. Since then, I have traveled the globe engaging in dialogue in order to bring humanity closer together. I have spoken with leaders of many nations and promoted exhibitions that convey the barbarity and ongoing threat of nuclear weapons. To build a world of peace and happiness, and to communicate my mentor’s spirit, I have continued to take action, undaunted by groundless criticism and attacks.
[Dialogue for the Future: Traveling the Path of Victory Together with You, Sep 2013]
President Ikeda went on to create a culture of peace, engaging in dialogue with leading thinkers and decision-makers and authoring annual peace proposals to United Nations. On September 8, 1968, 11 years after President Toda’s declaration, President Ikeda delivered a proposal calling for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. On September 8, 1974, at the height of the Cold War, overcoming intense opposition from both within and outside the organization, he made his first visit to Soviet Union forming deep bonds of friendship and trust with the people there. In September 8, 2009, he offered a five-part plan to the United Nations for laying the foundation for a world free from nuclear weapons.
President Ikeda expresses his long-standing conviction as follows:
.. if we are to put the era of nuclear terror behind us, we must struggle against the real “enemy.” That enemy is not nuclear weapons per se, nor is it the states that possess or develop them. The real enemy that we must confront is the ways of thinking that justify nuclear weapons—the readiness to annihilate others when they are seen as a threat or as a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.
[SGI President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal - Towards a New Era of Value Creation, January 26, 2010]
President Ikeda has spoken extensively about nuclear abolition in many of his speeches and guidance. SGI too has created exhibitions and activities highlighting the cruelty of nuclear weapons and promoting activities aimed at nuclear abolition. Meanwhile, Soka Gakkai continues to expand on a fundamental level, spreading the philosophy of life with utmost respect for human dignity.
Today, leading thinkers in the world are praising President Toda for his insight in his Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, all due to his disciple who walked the path of oneness of mentor and disciple.
Last year (2009), I issued a nuclear disarmament proposal. In Mr. Toda’s landmark declaration for the abolition of nuclear weapons, he passionately stated: “It is my wish to attack the problem at its root, that is, to rip out the claws that are hidden in the very depths of this issue.” Making his spirit my own, I have taken action toward the goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons. I would now like to pass on the baton of worldwide kosen-rufu—that is, the baton of peace creation—to the youth of Soka.
[The Teaching for Victory - Selection of Time Part 1, April 2010]
President Ikeda now entrusts the youth to carry on the struggle to protect the universal right to live and initiate a great river of human revival that would flow into the future.
The Human Revolution, Volume 12 Declaration. World Tribune Press Book 2 p.1769-1784.
Essay: Thoughts on the Anniversary of Josei Toda’s Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapon. Sep 7, 2001
Celebrating History of Soka Gakkai’s Antinuclear Weapons Movement, Retrieved from
Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, Read Declaration. Retrieved from