NEW YORK, May 12 /CNW/ - On May 11, a petition of 2,276,167 signatures from youth calling for the adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention which would comprehensively ban nuclear weapons was presented to Ambassador Leslie B. Gatan, adviser to the president of the ongoing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Sergio Duarte at the New York Culture Center of the SGI-USA Buddhist association.
The signatures, collected between January and March 2010 by youth members of Soka Gakkai in Japan, were presented by Youth Peace Committee leader Kenji Shiratsuchi who stated: "Each of these signatures embodies the heartfelt commitment and effort of a young person. We urge you to start debate on a Nuclear Weapons Convention at the earliest opportunity."
In a message, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda commented that the signatures represent valuable dialogues for peace and symbolize the immense power that lies hidden in the depths of seemingly ordinary people.
Ambassador Duarte expressed his appreciation for SGI's strong support for the first element in UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's five-point proposal for nuclear abolition - negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention - adding: "Widespread support from civil society is the strongest possible foundation for future disarmament initiatives."
Results of a survey on youth attitudes toward nuclear weapons carried out by SGI youth in six countries, which showed that 67% of respondents see the use of nuclear weapons as inadmissible under any circumstances, were also submitted to the UN.
The May 11 meeting, titled "Awaken to the Power of One Individual: New York Learns from Atomic Bomb Survivors," was attended by 400 people. It featured the testimonies of five hibakusha involved in the "Hibakusha Stories" project that brings survivors to speak in schools in New York City.
Mr. Michi Hirata, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, stressed: "Thanks to opportunities like this, people in civil society, Western society, can learn about the dreadful, inhumane nature of nuclear weapons and tell this to their neighbors, families and friends."
SGI will host a roundtable discussion entitled "Youth Say No to Nukes!" on youth action toward the adoption of a Nuclear Weapons Convention at the Church Center opposite the UN Headquarters from 1.15 to 2.45 pm on Wednesday May 12.
Soka Gakkai International is a Buddhist association with 12 million members in 192 countries and territories. It has a 50-year record of efforts toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. In 2007, SGI launched the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition. See www.peoplesdecade.org
For further information: For further information: Joan Anderson, Office of Public Information, Soka Gakkai International, Tel: +81-3-5360-9482, Fax: +81-3-5360-9885, URL: www.sgi.org, E-mail: janderson[at]sgi.gr.jp