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SGI President Celebrates 80th Birthday

January 2, 2008, marked the 80th birthday of Daisaku Ikeda. This month also marks the 33rd anniversary of the founding of the Soka Gakkai International lay Buddhist organization of which he is president. The SGI was launched on January 26, 1975, on the island of Guam, with participants from 51 countries. Today it is a global network with members practicing Nichiren Buddhism and contributing to society in 190 countries and territories throughout the world.

SGI's founding president received congratulatory messages for his birthday from people representing all sectors of society around the world. Among them were: Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, former UN Under-Secretary-General; Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, former president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; futurist and sustainable development expert Dr. Hazel Henderson; Dr. Elise Boulding, peace activist and professor emerita of sociology at Dartmouth College; Song Jian, president of the China-Japan Friendship Association, China; and former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Inder Kumar Gujral.

In a New Year's message, Mr. Ikeda thanked SGI members for their dedicated efforts that have led to the flourishing of the association around the world. Noting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, Mr. Ikeda stated that Mr. Toda "had devoted himself to a momentous struggle for peace, motivated by a deep wish for the happiness of all humankind." Before his death, Mr. Toda had bequeathed this mission to the young Mr. Ikeda, who traveled beyond Japan after his appointment as Soka Gakkai's third president to fulfill his mentor's aspiration. Encouraging SGI members to advance with the spirit of always moving forward from this moment on, Mr. Ikeda concluded his message with his sincere wishes for their good health, vitality and good fortune, and for the peace, security and prosperity of their respective communities.

[Adapted from articles found in several January 2008 issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]