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September 22, 2007

Soka Gakkai Youth Hold National Leaders Meeting; SGI President Named Honorary Citizen of Navoiy City, Uzbekistan

On September 22, 2007, Soka Gakkai youth held a national leaders meeting at the Tokyo Makiguchi Memorial Hall in Hachioji, Tokyo. At the event signifying the launch of the next phase of the SGI's worldwide growth and development spearheaded by youth, the young people presented a declaration on behalf of Soka Gakkai youth throughout Japan pledging to dedicate themselves to work tirelessly for humanity's peace, happiness and prosperity, succeeding the legacy of the first three Soka Gakkai presidents. The declaration affirmed the youths' mission to speak out against injustice with the spirit of "refuting the erroneous and revealing the true," while working in the same spirit as their mentor and developing into trusted leaders who initiate positive reforms and progress in their respective arenas of society.

Congratulatory messages from SGI youth leaders around the world were introduced. SGI-Italy Young Men's Leader Mattia Duni reported that the SGI-Europe youth members are presently challenging to hold dialogues with 100,000 people to further understanding of the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism and the SGI's efforts for global peace. He also stated that in March 2008, some 4,000 SGI-Europe youth representatives from throughout Europe will converge in Florence, Italy, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of March 16, 1958, when 6,000 Soka Gakkai youth met with second President Josei Toda and vowed to carry on his legacy of working for peace, prosperity and people's happiness based on Nichiren's philosophy of humanism.

­ SGI-Thailand Young Women's Leader Patcharin Prajsuchanai said their motto is "Walking the straight path of mentor and disciple," based on a spirit of disciples inheriting the mentor's will and sharing in the mentor's struggle to advance peace and promote the blossoming of human potential. The Thai youth are determined to create a strong foundation in life while young, overcoming any hardship with faith and determination. Remarking that more than half the SGI-Côte d'Ivoire membership are young people, Youth Division Leader Jonas Toboe said he viewed the Soka Gakkai Youth Division Leaders Meeting as an occasion for SGI youth worldwide to take a step forward together and for each to pledge to accomplish his or her chosen mission in society. He said SGI-Côte d'Ivoire members will work to create a genuine "Century of Africa" in the 21st century just as SGI President Daisaku Ikeda had envisioned more than three decades ago. SGI-USA Young Men's Leader Nathan Gauer, a graduate of the first class of Soka University of America and who received a masters degree in education from Harvard University, also called on SGI youth to strengthen their solidarity of friendship and advance victoriously in every aspect of their lives.

At the same occasion, Mr. Ikeda received an honorary citizenship from Navoiy City in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Uzbek delegation included Uzbekistan Union of Writers Chair Abdulla Oripov, Navoiy Mayor Bakhtiyor I. Khamdamov, Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan Chair Tursunali Kuziev and Uzbek Ambassador to Japan Mirsobit Ochilov. Uzbekistan President Islom Karimov sent a congratulatory message to Mr. Ikeda.

Navoiy Mayor Khamdamov (right, foreground) presents the award and medallion to Mr. Ikeda (left, foreground)

Located in southwestern Uzbekistan 350 kilometers west of Tashkent, the capital, Navoiy is the industrial center for a region rich in mineral deposits. The city is named after the celebrated poet and statesman Alisher Navoi (also Ali-Shir Nava'i) (1441-1501). A bronze statue of the poet adorns the forecourt of the Soka University auditorium.

In his congratulatory speech, Dr. Oripov referred to Mr. Ikeda's initiatives for promoting cultural and academic exchanges between Uzbekistan and Japan. These include an invitation extended by the Min-On Concert Association (founded by Mr. Ikeda) to an Uzbek folkloric dance ensemble to perform throughout Japan and a collaborative archeological excavation of Buddhist relics in central Asia between Uzbek educational institutes and Soka University. Spanning some 20 years, the joint archeological projects have marked important new discoveries in the history of Buddhist culture. Dr. Oripov particularly remarked on Mr. Ikeda's efforts to disseminate Uzbek literature through introducing the poetry and philosophy of Navoi. Himself a poet, Dr. Oripov composed the lyrics to the country's national anthem.

Following the presentation of a certificate and medallion by Mayor Khamdamov, Mr. Ikeda expressed his appreciation for the honor and his profound gratitude to the delegation for traveling the long distance from Uzbekistan to present the award. Quoting a well-known Uzbek maxim which states that if one person excavates a wellspring thousands will benefit from it, Mr. Ikeda urged the youth to be that single individual who taps a wellspring for all people. Also quoting Navoi, considered by some as the "Goethe of Central Asia," Mr. Ikeda closed his speech affirming that as long as we have true friends who stand by us through thick and thin, we can overcome any difficulty. He encouraged the young people to treasure true friendships and camaraderie throughout their lives.

[Adapted from articles in the September 23 and 25, 2007, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]