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October 24, 2021

International Academic Symposium on the Philosophy of Daisaku Ikeda

On October 23 and 24, 2021, Soka University (SU) in Tokyo hosted the 11th International Academic Symposium on the Philosophy of Daisaku Ikeda, which was held online, connecting several venues around the world.

The first symposium was held in 2005 at Peking University, China, with scholars from eleven universities. With each successive symposium, the scope has expanded, and for this 11th symposium, with the theme “Coexistence of Humanity and Global Citizen Education,” 52 universities and research institutions from 10 countries and territories participated and 80 research theses were submitted.

In the context of current dire realities such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, the symposium provided a venue for participants to explore perspectives that might provide a compass for humanity.

At the opening ceremony, SU Board of Trustees Chair Yasunori Tashiro introduced a message from Daisaku Ikeda, the university’s founder, in which he expressed his belief that “the greatest obstruction to our coexistence is the inability to believe in human potential. When this distrust is directed to oneself, it sows feelings of powerlessness and resignation; when directed to others, it feeds prejudice and division. While distrust by nature breeds negativity, education, in contrast, essentially emerged from an unshakeable belief in the limitless potentiality of human life, bringing about an entirely different perspective.”

Professor Gu Binglin, former president of Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Council of Gandhian Studies, also offered words of greetings.

Keynote addresses were given by SU President Yoshihisa Baba, Professor Gao Hong, president of Introduction of Chinese Association for Japanese Studies, and Dr. Jason Goulah, director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education at DePaul University.

In his address titled, “Daisaku Ikeda and Global Citizenship for Creative Coexistence,” Dr. Goulah spoke about how Mr. Ikeda’s approach to global citizenship has evolved and expanded over the past 70 years, adapting to the times and the urgencies of humanity. “Not only do we see him expanding his scope of global citizenship while continuing to consider issues of race and identity. We also see a focused attention on cultivating wisdom, courage, and compassion. This suggests that, for Ikeda, by persistently cultivating these qualities with dialogue as our loadstar, and age of creative coexistence is always possible, especially with young people at the forefront.”

He concluded saying that whatever the issues we may confront, “Ikeda encourages us to imagine a possibility in the given, to find meaning in these uncomfortable circumstances, and to create value through enhanced wisdom, courage, and compassion and, thereby, to know others and ourselves and become fully human.”

Participants then split into eleven breakout sessions on various themes for presentations and discussions that took place over the two days.

11th International Academic Symposium on the Philosophy of Daisaku Ikeda
Commemorative photo-taking during the symposium with researchers, Soka University staff and online participants

[Adapted from an article in the October 25, 2021, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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