Instead of taking risks with arms, please take major risks for peace
and disarmament," the late Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, founder of Rissho
Kosei-kai, eloquently stated to the world political leaders at the
First Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to
Disarmament (SSOD I), which was held at the UN headquarters in New York
in 1978. This historical moment was the genesis of Rissho Kosei-kai's
genuine commitment to disarmament, particularly nuclear disarmament.
Since then, Rissho Kosei-kai has been engaged in various initiatives in
the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons in collaboration with
the UN, while the late Founder Niwano addressed the participants of
SSOD II and SSOD III convened by the UN in 1982 and in 1988,
Rissho Kosei-kai's involvement in disarmament activities derives
from its firm belief in the teachings of Buddhism. Of particular
relevance is the teaching of nonviolence. The members of Rissho
Kosei-kai strongly believe that disarmament is a sine qua non for a
world free of violence.
Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra, part of which tells the story of
Devadatta, is a good example that stresses the importance of
nonviolence. Although Devadatta was a cousin and one of the disciples
of Shakyamuni Buddha, he tried to kill Shakyamuni on several occasions.
In spite of Devadatta's dreadful wrongdoings, Shakyamuni never
responded to him in a violent manner. Rather, he proclaimed that even
Devadatta would attain buddhahood in the future. This story clearly
illustrates that the value of nonviolence is indispensable for
establishing a peaceful world.
Meanwhile, nonviolence can be interpreted as the peaceful settlement
of international disputes in the glossary of international politics. In
this regard, humankind has made worthwhile attempts in searching for a
world of nonviolence.
Article 12.1 of the statutes of the League of Nations, which was
founded in 1920 after World War I, reads: "The members of the League .
. . agree in no case to resort to war." In addition, an international
treaty, called the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was signed in August 1928, and
the parties to the pact declared that they "condemn recourse to war for
the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an
instrument of national policy in their relations with one another."
After World War II, the valuable concept of the peaceful settlement
of international disputes was then written into Article 2.3 of the
Charter of the UN, which was inaugurated in 1945. It states: "All
Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in
such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are
The concept of the peaceful settlement of international
disputes--manifested in the League's statutes, Article 2 of the
Kellogg-Briand Pact, and Article 2.3 of the UN Charter--is without
question identical with a symbolic ideal of the renunciation of war,
and it was finally incorporated into Article 9 of the Japanese
Constitution. Article 9.1 of the Constitution stipulates: "Aspiring
sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the
Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation
and the threat or use of force as means of settling international
As can be seen, then, the interrelatedness of the statutes of the
League of Nations of 1920, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, the Charter
of the UN of 1945, and the Constitution of Japan of 1947 points to a
very important fact: that the concept of the renunciation of war was not at all
a newly formulated provision inserted into the Japanese Constitution.
Rather, it had been a long-standing ideal for which the international
community had longed since the dawn of the twentieth century.
Rev. Nichiko Niwano, president of Rissho Kosei-kai, said in the November 15, 2002, edition of the Kosei Shimbun
that people renounce violence if they fully realize transience, a
fundamental teaching of Buddhism. He continues to point out that those
who can acknowledge the dignity of their own lives can understand the
dignity of others' as well. Rev. Niwano further states that an act of
violence that kills others is in fact meant to kill ourselves.
During the last several years in Japan, an argument for amending
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has gained momentum. But the
people must be reminded that the concept of the renunciation of war or
the peaceful settlement of international disputes has long been sought
for around the world in modern history and has been cherished by
humanity for many years.
Being mindful that disarmament, the peaceful settlement of
international disputes, and the renunciation of war are mirrored in the
concept of nonviolence, a fundamental teaching of Buddhism, Rissho
Kosei-kai is determined that it should redouble its efforts in
initiating disarmament activities in cooperation with the UN, as well
as like-minded nongovernmental organizations, until the international
community can enjoy the peaceful benefits of a world of nonviolence.
Masamichi Kamiya is minister of Rissho Kosei-kai of
New York. He served as a deputy director of the External Affairs
Department of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo until November 2007.
This article was originally published in the January-March 2008 issue of Dharma World.