Declaration of Anti-nuclear Weapons
by Soka Gakkai 2nd President Josei Toda
on September 8th, 1957
Soka Gakkai 2nd President Josei Toda (1900 - 1958) declared "anti-nuclear weapons" before 50,000 young men and
women on September 8th, 1957 in Yokohama, Japan.
Exscerpts from Human Revolution Volume 12
"Today I would like to state clearly my feelings and attitude regarding the testing of nuclear weapons, a topic that is now being heatedly debated in society. I hope that, as my disciples, you will inherit the declaration I am about to make today and, to the best of your ability, spread its intent throughout the world. "Today I would like to state clearly my feelings and attitude regarding the testing of nuclear weapons, a topic that is now being heatedly debated in society. I hope that, as my disciples, you will inherit the declaration I am about to make today and, to the best of your ability, spread its intent throughout the world."
"Although a movement to ban the testing of nuclear weapons is now under way around the world, it is my wish to attack the problem at its root, that is, to rip out the claws that are hidden in the very depths of this issue. Thus I advocate that those who venture to use nuclear weapons, irrespective of where they are from or whether their country is victorious or defeated, be sentenced to death without exception."
Why do I say this? Because we, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live. Anyone who tries to jeopardize this right is a devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster. I propose that humankind apply, in every case, the death penalty to anyone responsible for using nuclear weapons, even if that person is on the winning side."
"Even if a country should conquer the world throught the use of nuclear weapons, the conquerors must be viewed as devils; as evil incarnate. I believe that it is the mission of every member of the youth division in Japan to disseminated this idea throughout the globe."
"I shall end by expressing my eager expectation for you to spread this first appeal of mine to the entire world with the powerfull spirit you have shouwn in today's sports festival"
In his declaration calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons, Jose Toda had proposed the death panalty, without exception, for those using nuclear bombs. This in no way, however, meant that he was affirming or advocating the death penalty as a general means of punishment.
Nine years earlier, in 1948, seven so-called "Class-A" war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo, were sentenced to death by hanging by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (in a proceeding commonly known as the Tokyo Trail). On that occasion, Toda had made the following statement: "The death penalty is absolutely wrong. Life imprisonment would have been more appropriate. Besides, those who dropped the atomic bombs are as guilty as (those sentenced to death in the Tokyo Trial). I say this because, when viewed from the perspective of Buddhism, the death penalty, which is the killing of one person by another, can never be condoned"
Further, Toda had often said that in Buddhism there is no concept whereby one person judges another. Why, then, did Toda go so far as to use the words "death penalty" in this declaration?
Here, Toda was not advocating that legislation be introduced to authorize the death penalty for those who use nuclear weapons. Rather, his aim, quite simply, was to establish the idea that the use of nuclear weapons, an act that would deny humanity its fundamental right to exist, must be judged as an absolute evil. He hoped that by allowing this idea to penetrate deeply into the hearts and minds of people throughout the world, particularly the leaders, it might serve as an internal restraint against the us of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, based on the perspective that the crime of committing such an absolute evil was deserving of the highest punishment, then it was inconceivable that anything short of the death penalty could possibly fit the crime.
Had Toda simply been satisfied to brand those who used nuclear bombs as "devils," "fiends," and "monsters," his declaration would have remained extremely abstract. Most certainly, he could not have adequately conveyed his conviction that the use of nuclear weapons constituted an absolute evil. Toda's bold call for the death penalty was meant to crush the tendency within people's minds to justify the use of nuclear bombs. In a way, he was passing a sentence of death on the devilish tendencies dwelling within human life itself.
Toda recalled the words of Albert Einstein: "the unleashed power of teh atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking..."
As Einstein suggested, the advent of nuclear weapons, which threatened to drive humankind toward extinction, completely transformed the world. What failed to change, however, was people's way of thinking. Now both East and West were frantically absorbed in the nuclear arms race, each side charging the other with not wanting peace.
Surely it was far more important, Toda thought, to cast ideologies aside and agree upon one thing: that nuclear weapons mutually be recognized as an "absolute evil," a threat to humanity's very right to exist. Further, anyone who dared to use such a pernicious contrivance should also be judged as a devil incarnate. In the name of humanity, whoever uses a weapon of such ultimate barbarism must never be excused or forgiven. This conviction, this way of thinking, must pervade the entire globe