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City of Florence, Italy, Honors SGI President with Seal of Peace

Florence Mayor Domenici (right) entrusts award to Hiromasa Ikeda

On March 25, 2007, the City of Florence in Tuscany, Italy, presented SGI President Daisaku Ikeda with the Florentine Republic Seal of Peace, one of the city's highest honors, in recognition of his manifold contributions to world peace through education and culture. The conferral took place in the Salone dei Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's town hall and historic landmark dating to the fourteenth century, which houses a wealth of Renaissance artwork such as the renowned Michelangelo sculpture, "Genius of Victory." Mayor Leonardo Domenici entrusted the award to Soka Gakkai Vice General Director Hiromasa Ikeda, who accepted it on his father's behalf.

The Seal of Peace, engraved with "Advocate of Peace and Freedom" in Latin, was instituted in 1400 to honor those who have dedicated themselves to protecting peace, freedom and human rights. In keeping with this tradition, the City of Florence has continued to confer the Seal upon individuals who are considered to have contributed to safeguarding peace and human security. Recipients include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II.

In the presence of some 2,700 guests, the ceremony began with a trumpet fanfare by musicians dressed in period costumes of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In his address, Mayor Domenici affirmed that the City of Florence shares with Mr. Ikeda an affinity for humanistic values and praised him for his longstanding activities for peace and human happiness. He said the Seal of Peace represents a pact to work together for a better future.

This was followed by an experience on manifesting the bodhisattva ideal of Nichiren Buddhism by SGI-Italy member and renowned Italian actress, satirist and film director Sabina Guzzanti.

In a message read by Vice General Director Ikeda, the SGI president expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the unsurpassed honor of receiving the Seal of Peace from Florence, the cradle of the Italian Renaissance. Remarking on the infinite potential inherent in human life, he emphasized the importance of cultivating human goodness and initiating positive changes that benefit society. Noting that Mayor Domenici is a vice president of Mayors for Peace, a UN-affiliated nongovernmental organization dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons, Mr. Ikeda declared that together with SGI members around the world he hoped to join the mayor and the citizens of Florence in creating a renaissance of humanism in the twenty-first century.

The Fiorino d'Oro Coin, another of Florence's prestigous awards given to outstanding individuals in the fields of science, culture and the arts, was presented to Mr. Ikeda on June 30, 1992.

[Adapted from an article in the March 30, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]