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April 13, 2024

Florence, Italy, Dedicates Piazza to Daisaku Ikeda

Florence, Italy, Dedicates Piazza to Daisaku Ikeda
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella (2nd from right) and Soka Gakkai Italy President Alberto Aprea (3rd from right) unveil the plaque bearing the name “Piazza Daisaku Ikeda.” Prior to the unveiling, the city’s bugle corps and coat of arms entered the piazza.

On April 13, 2024, a ceremony was held to mark the establishment of the Piazza Daisaku Ikeda in Florence, Italy. The piazza (square) was named after Daisaku Ikeda (1928–2023), Honorary President of the Soka Gakkai and President of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), in recognition of his advocacy of human rights and humanitarian causes. Florence City Council conferred the official name of the piazza through the passing of a formal resolution.

The piazza is located in a residential area near the Istituto Buddista Italiano Soka Gakkai (Soka Gakkai Italy)’s culture center in Florence.

At the ceremony, a plaque inscribed with the words “Piazza Daisaku Ikeda” and describing him as a Buddhist mentor and peacebuilder, was unveiled by Florence Mayor Dario Nardella and Soka Gakkai Italy President Alberto Aprea. The ceremony was attended by some 500 people, including members of Florence City Council, Soka Gakkai Italy members and local residents.

In his speech, Mayor Nardella remarked, “Remembering Mr. Ikeda means not only recalling a great thinker, philosopher, teacher and spiritual guide but also remembering a man whose concrete dedication to promoting peace was a powerful constant throughout his life.” Mayor Nardella also acknowledged Mr. Ikeda’s commitment to young people, whom he believed are protagonists of the future. Referring to the relationship between Mr. Ikeda and the city of Florence as being “significant for years,” he said that he liked to remember Mr. Ikeda as a Florentine—in 2017 Mayor Nardella bestowed an honorary citizenship upon Mr. Ikeda. The Piazza Daisaku Ikeda, he said, would serve as a testament to the enduring bond between Mr. Ikeda and the city.

Councilor Maria Federica Giuliani, responsible for interfaith relations, also spoke about Mr. Ikeda’s relationship with the city of Florence, stating that it was “profound, nurtured through the spiritual and cultural community of the Soka Gakkai, which is deeply integrated within the city’s community.” She described Mr. Ikeda as “one of the most significant personalities on the international scene for intercultural and interreligious dialogue in favor of peace.” Councilor Giuliani went on to say, “We cannot forget Ikeda’s efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons, for the respect of life and human dignity, for continuous dialogue and mutual understanding among people of different cultures and religions.”

SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda sent a message that was read out by Soka Gakkai Italy President Alberto Aprea. In his message, Mr. Ikeda expressed his sincere gratitude to Mayor Nardella and Florence City Council for naming the piazza after his father, Daisaku Ikeda.

He said that he hoped that the piazza would serve as a “starting point” for people “to extend the conversation of peace and friendship into the future.”

Daisaku Ikeda’s connection to Florence began in 1981 when he first visited the city. In 1992, the city bestowed upon Mr. Ikeda the Fiorino d’Oro Coin, a prestigious award given to outstanding individuals in the fields of science, culture and the arts, followed by the Florentine Republic Seal of Peace, one of the city’s highest awards, in 2007, and an honorary citizenship in 2017. In January of 2024, together with Soka Gakkai Italy, the city cohosted a memorial in honor of Mr. Ikeda at the historic Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred) in the Palazzo Vecchio.

[Adapted from an article in the April 20, 2024, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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