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May 15, 2007

Russian Ambassador to Japan and SGI President Meet

Mr. Ikeda welcomes Ambassador Bely

Mr. Ikeda welcomes Ambassador Bely

On May 15, 2007, Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail M. Bely, who had just assumed his post in February, visited the Soka Gakkai and received a warm welcome from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda and other Soka Gakkai leaders at the Seikyo Press building in Shinanomachi, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. Accompanying the ambassador were Russian Embassy Minister-Counsellor Mikhail Y. Galuzin and Counsellor Andrei V. Kostin. Previously, Ambassador Bely served as head of the Asian Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as ambassador to Singapore and Indonesia.

Ambassador Bely thanked Mr. Ikeda for his long-standing efforts to forge Russo-Japanese friendship, commencing with his meetings with Soviet leaders, government officials, scholars and artists that began during the Cold War era. He also praised Soka University, founded by Mr. Ikeda, for its contributions to bilateral friendship, noting that Minister-Counsellor Galuzin had studied there as an exchange student. The Russian diplomat mentioned that he had read Mr. Ikeda's published dialogues with former Russian cosmonaut Dr. Aleksander Serebrov, former Moscow State University (MSU) Rector Dr. Anatoli Logunov and current MSU Rector Dr. Victor Sadovnichy.

The ambassador expressed his hopes to improve bilateral ties in the areas of politics, economics, culture and education. The SGI leader agreed that this was crucial. Taking expansion of trade as a case in point, he said the age is calling for a strengthening of bilateral ties. Mr. Ikeda affirmed friendly relations begin by cultivating mutual understanding, leading to trust. He also advocated more people-to-people exchanges, especially among youth and students, to help transform the notion held by many Japanese that Russians are a distant people.

Ambassador Bely concurred with the importance of building trust and increasing exchanges among the younger generation. He stated that Russians and Japanese have many shared interests and sentiments to build upon, such as their love of natural beauty. He noted that the "Masterpieces of the Russian Museum from Late 18th Century to Early 20th Century" exhibition will be displayed in Ueno, Tokyo, and expressed his appreciation to the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, an institution established by Mr. Ikeda, for its supporting role in mounting the show.

[Adapted from an article in the May 16, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]