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September 1, 2022

Condolence Message on the Passing of Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

On August 31, SGI President Ikeda sent a condolence message on the passing of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in Moscow on August 30, 2022, at the age of 91.

The two men first met at the Kremlin in Moscow in July 1990, when Gorbachev was President of the Soviet Union. They met again in Tokyo in April the following year, when Gorbachev made the first ever visit to Japan by a Soviet head of state. Over the years, the two met with each other a total of 10 times and collaborated on the book-length dialogue, Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century: Gorbachev and Ikeda on Buddhism and Communism, in which they, as members of the generation that had experienced the horrors of World War II, discussed pathways to peace in the twenty-first century through respect for the dignity of life and living in harmony with the natural environment.

Gorbachev is known for his historic contributions in helping to bring the Cold War to an end. He became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1985 at the age of 54, and, as head of state, implemented glasnost and perestroika—openness and reconstruction—policies to reform and reconstruct the Soviet Union. His “new thinking” approach to foreign policy opened a path toward peaceful coexistence with the West and led to significant progress in nuclear disarmament. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

In his condolence message, the SGI leader stated that his first encounter with Gorbachev and the many discussions that followed have been indelibly etched in his heart. He praised the late president for his achievements, won amidst great hardships, and his spiritual legacy as a peace maker. President Gorbachev, he said, will continue to live on in the hearts of many as an eternal source of light illuminating humanity’s future.

 [Adapted from an article in the September 1, 2022, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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