On January 11, 2023, in the Seikyo Shimbun newspaper, Center founder Daisaku Ikeda issued a statement decrying the cruelty and misery of war, calling for action aimed at restoring peace in Ukraine and steps to lessen the risk of the use of nuclear weapons. Here, we offer the opening sections of the statement and then invite you to click through to the Daisaku Ikeda website for the full statement.
Statement on the Ukraine Crisis and No First Use of Nuclear Weapons
The Ukraine crisis that erupted in February last year continues with no prospect for cessation. The intensified hostilities have inflicted great suffering in population centers and destroyed infrastructure facilities, compelling large numbers of civilians, including many children and women, to live in a state of constant peril. More than 7.9 million people have been forced to find refuge in countries throughout Europe, and some 5.9 million have been internally displaced.
The history of the twentieth century, which witnessed the horrors caused by two global conflicts, should have brought home the lesson that nothing is more cruel or miserable than war.
During World War II, when I was in my teens, I experienced the firebombing of Tokyo. To this day, I remember with great vividness getting separated from family members as we fled desperately through a sea of flames, and not learning that they were safe until the following day. Also indelible is the image of my mother, her back convulsing with sobs after she was informed that my eldest brother—who had been drafted and borne anguished witness to the barbarous acts committed by Japan—had been killed in battle.
How many people have lost their lives or livelihoods in the ongoing crisis, how many have found their own and their family’s ways of life suddenly and irrevocably altered?
For the first time in forty years, the United Nations Security Council called on the UN General Assembly to convene an emergency special session under a “uniting for peace” resolution. Subsequently, Secretary-General António Guterres has engaged repeatedly with the national leaders of Russia, Ukraine and other countries in an effort at mediation.
And yet the crisis continues. It has not only heightened tensions across Europe but also seriously impacted many other countries in the form of constrained food supplies, spiking energy prices and disrupted financial markets. These developments have increased the desperation of great numbers of people worldwide already afflicted by extreme weather events caused by climate change and the suffering and death resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is crucial that we find a breakthrough in order to prevent any further worsening of the conditions facing people worldwide, to say nothing of the Ukrainian people who are compelled to live with inadequate and uncertain supplies of electricity amidst a deepening winter and intensifying military conflict.
I therefore call for the urgent holding of a meeting, under UN auspices, among the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine and other key countries in order to reach agreement on a cessation of hostilities. I also urge that earnest discussions be undertaken toward a summit that would bring together the heads of all concerned states in order to find a path to the restoration of peace.