Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Japanese Buddhist Leader Sees Improved China Relations as Key to Peace in Asia

The leader of Japan's largest Buddhist organization has called for improved relations between his country and China.

In his annual peace proposal, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) president Daisaku Ikeda reaffirmed his long-held view of China-Japan relations as the key to peace in Asia, urging a renewal of "political efforts" to build friendship between Beijing and Tokyo. He also streesed the importance of cultural and educational exchanges between people, especially students and young adults, asserting that these programs can "build bonds that transcend and outlast changes on the political level."

Ikeda's emphasis on the "soft power" of people's consciousness reflects a humanistic Buddhist perspective. In his yearly message he writes: "A transformation in the inner life of a single individual can spur and encourage similar changes in others… I am confident that this kind of 'people's power' has the potential to accelerate efforts for disarmament and bring to full flower a global culture of peace."

SGI claims more than 12 million members in 190 countries and territories. A prolific author, poet and peace activist, who, in 1968, became one of the first Japanese citizens to call for normalization of relations with mainland China--then firmly in the grip of Maoist Communism--Ikeda is the founder of several educational, cultural and research institutions. He is internationally recognized as a leading interpreter of Buddhist pilosophy.

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