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October 22, 2007

Yacuiba City, Bolivia, Honors SGI President with 550th Honorary Citizenship

Deputy Mayor Olivera (foreground, 3rd from left) entrusts the certificate to Mr. Takeno (foreground, 4th from left)

On October 22, 2007, Yacuiba in Bolivia's Tarija Department along the Argentine border presented SGI President Daisaku Ikeda with its Highest Distinguished Guest Award, equivalent to an honorary citizenship, the 550th he has received to date. The presentation was held during the official opening of the "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" exhibition sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College.

Located in southern Bolivia, Yacuiba prospered as a center of commerce and as a key route to Argentina and Paraguay. The city also developed a unique rural farming culture called Chaqueño. The city assembly unanimously approved the presentation of the honorary citizenship for Mr. Ikeda and commended him as a great humanist, Buddhist philosopher, man of literature, educator and leader of SGI who has contributed to global peace a philosophy of nonviolence. Mayor Carlos Eduardo Brú commented that it is an honor for the city to present the 550th distinction to Mr. Ikeda and expressed his hope that the exhibition would provide inspiration in an age when young people have misplaced their spiritual compass of life. At the ceremony, Deputy Mayor Armando Olivera entrusted the award for Mr. Ikeda to SGI-Bolivia General Director Katsuo Takeno.

The Gandhi, King, Ikeda exhibition was held through October 27 and attracted 4,000 visitors, 5% of Yacuiba's population of 8,000. Juan Ramos, chair of the Yacuiba Board of Education, viewed the exhibit and expressed his concurrence with SGI's commitment to peace. He further stated his desire to communicate to the city's schoolchildren the conviction he shares with Mr. Ikeda that education is the way to eliminate discrimination.

[Adapted from an article in the November 4, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]