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February 20, 2024

Memorial Event Honoring Daisaku Ikeda Held at the European Parliament

Daisaku Ikeda memorial held at the European Parliament on Feb 20, 2024
People gathered at the European Parliament, Brussels, to honor the life and contributions of Daisaku Ikeda

On February 20, 2024, a memorial event titled “Promoting Peace through Dialogue and Human Revolution: The Life of Daisaku Ikeda” was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. The event honored the life and contributions of Daisaku Ikeda, Honorary President of the Soka Gakkai and President of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), who passed away on November 15, 2023.

The event was hosted by Pina Picierno, vice-president of the European Parliament, in collaboration with SGI Europe. Speakers included Stefano Davide Bettera, president of the European Buddhist Union; Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome; and Melissa Parke, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Messages were also shared from Luigi De Salvia, President of Religions for Peace Europe; Pauline Murphy, Professor Emeritus at Ulster University in Northern Ireland; and astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe, who published a dialogue with Mr. Ikeda. Some 130 people attended the event.

SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda sent a message that was read out by SGI Europe Co-Chair Suzanne Pritchard. In it, on behalf of the Ikeda family, he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Picierno for hosting the memorial event in honor of his father. He also reflected on the significance of the vow his father made in October 1961 standing before the newly erected Berlin Wall during his first visit to Europe. Daisaku Ikeda’s vow on that occasion, which he upheld throughout his life, was the commitment to transform the tragedy of a divided people through dialogue, culture exchange and education. Mr. Ikeda noted that his father harbored enduring hope that a united Europe would lead to the “harmonious unity of humankind.” He went on to say that his father had absolute conviction that the solidarity of youth worldwide, inspired by European youth, would usher in “an era of peace and humanity for all.” It was this conviction in youth, said Mr. Ikeda, that his father entrusted to the future.

In her welcome address, Ms. Picierno expressed how deeply the passing of Mr. Ikeda had touched her, emphasizing her desire to honor him because “his extraordinary life leaves us with a universal message: the absolute respect for the fundamental dignity of life—not only human—must be affirmed, protected and we must convince others to do the same.” She described Mr. Ikeda as a philosopher, poet, peace and human rights activist, a great supporter of young people and women and a champion in the fight against climate change. These, she said, were themes that he had dedicated his life to. She introduced the idea of human revolution, a concept central to Mr. Ikeda’s philosophy, that a positive inner transformation of just one individual can change the destiny of nations and, ultimately, that of humanity. Referring to human revolution, she remarked, “I believe that the time has come to do so, especially in a world where we have to face climate change and global crises.”

Co-Chair of the SGI European Youth Committee, Akpéné Bernard, reflected on how Mr. Ikeda had encouraged youth in his role as a Buddhist leader and mentor. She said that he was an inspiration because of the “great hope and compassion he gave to everyone, no matter what their origins or social status” and that he had “more faith in young people than anyone else.” Referring to the many dialogues he had with notable people and the 40 peace proposals he authored, she stated that Mr. Ikeda “has shown us through his own example, it’s by taking concrete action in society and engaging in heart-to-heart dialogues that we can transform the suffering of our world.” “He always encouraged us,” she said, “to be at the forefront of putting actions for peace into practice,” and “to conduct dialogues of hope for a better tomorrow, a better future.”

Referring to Mr. Ikeda as a distinguished peacemaker, ICAN’s Melissa Parke spoke about Mr. Ikeda’s decades-long efforts for a world free of nuclear weapons, stating, “his advocacy for this cause long predates our campaign.” Acknowledging SGI’s early partnership with ICAN based on Mr. Ikeda’s advocacy, she acknowledged SGI’s contributions to ICAN, particularly in the areas of youth empowerment and education, including the work of Senzatomica, a youth-led nuclear disarmament movement spearheaded by Soka Gakkai Italy. Ms. Parke further noted that nuclear disarmament had been a recurring theme of Mr. Ikeda’s annual peace proposals and that he celebrated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for prioritizing humanitarian concerns and human rights. She also spoke about Mr. Ikeda’s conviction in the treaty’s potential to spur, in his words, a “paradigm shift in approaches to security.”

The event concluded with remarks by SGI Europe Co-Chair Robert Harrap who thanked Ms. Picierno for bringing the event to fruition and the speakers for their “heartfelt contributions.” He underscored the significance of the event taking place in Brussels—“the heart of Europe.” He acknowledged Mr. Ikeda’s impact on both the Buddhist and the wider interfaith community, emphasizing how Mr. Ikeda’s “promotion of the ideals of the United Nations, whether through contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals or . . . by relentlessly campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons, has a scope which goes deeply into the secular world.” Additionally, Mr. Harrap introduced Mr. Ikeda as the founder of the Soka (value-creating) education system. “The aim of education, for Daisaku Ikeda,” he said, “is to foster creative individuals, who can become global citizens, who will strive to create value wherever they find themselves.” For Mr. Ikeda, he affirmed, education was the most important and sacred of undertakings because it is education that makes human beings.

speakers at Daisaku Ikeda memorial held at the European Parliament on Feb 20, 2024
European Parliament Vice-President Pina Picierno (center), SGI Europe representatives and those who spoke at the event take a commemorative photo

Watch a video of the full memorial event here.

[Adapted from an article in the February 22, 2024, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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