Constructing the Golden Bridge connecting China and Japan

Constructing coexistence and peace among people is the great wish of Soka Gakkai International (SGI). During the Cold War in the1960s, China was isolated from the international society. As a commoner of Japan, and as a Buddhist practitioner, President Ikeda called for China to return to the international relationship as early as possible. He facilitated the normalization of Sino-Japanese relationship and planted the seed for the peace of Asia.

Correct Historical View and Respect History

In 1968, at the 11th Soka Gakkai Student Division Meeting, President Ikeda gave a speech to more than 20,000 university students and called for the youth to support normalization of diplomatic relationship between China and Japan. President Ikeda said, “Currently, there is no diplomatic relationship between Japan and China, nor the government of Japan wants to create one. Nevertheless, for the stability of the Asian region, the issue of the actualization of diplomatic normalization between Japan and China cannot be avoided. ……. The Japanese and Chinese youths should take each other’s hands to create a bright world.”

President Ikeda appealed to the United Nations to recognize the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and also facilitated Sino-Japanese normalization. In his novel “Human Revolution,” President Ikeda admonished the Japanese government not to be indecisive but should place the diplomatic normalization of Japan and China at the top priority among all foreign policies.

When the Japanese government tried to escape from the historical responsibility and distorted the historical fact for Japan’s invasion against China, President Ikeda taught the members of the Soka Gakkai about the importance to have the correct historical view. He said, “First, we have to know the correct history and understand the pains of Asian people …… We have to let people of Asia to feel our conscious as human-beings and our sincerity in order to create trusts among us. Diplomatic relationship between two nations also starts from mutual trust between people.”

The Seeds of Friendship Blossomed

The then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai noted President Ikeda’s efforts in Sino-Japanese normalization, he instructed his assistant to learn more about the Soka Gakkai. Premier Zhou encouraged officers stationed at China’s representative office in Japan to make contact with the Soka Gakkai and invited President Ikeda to visit China. Premier Zhou said, “The Soka Gakkai is an organization born from the people, so we must create a pipe-line with the Soka Gakkai and be friend with them.”

The historic moment came on September 29, 1972. The government of the PRC and the government of Japan released a mutual announcement for Sino-Japanese normalization. President Ikeda and Premier Zhou finally met in December 1974. Although Premier Zhou was hospitalized at that time, he insisted on meeting with President Ikeda.
Premier Zhou said to President Ikeda, “Because you are young, I highly value our friendship. The last 25 years of the 20th century is the most important time for the world. We have to stand on equal position, and cooperate and struggle together.” After hearing his words, President Ikeda realized his crucial role in promoting Sino-Japanese friendship, and he determined to build the “Golden Bridge” that connects the hearts of Japanese and Chinese people.

One year later, some Chinese students began to study abroad in the Soka University at Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan. This was the first time that Chinese students study in a Japanese university after the Second World War.

President Ikeda planted the “Zhou Cherry Tree” and “Zhou Couple Cherry Tree” in the campus of Soka University to commemorate Premier Zhou and his wife Deng Yinchao. They also symbolize that the flower of friendship blossomed in Japan as wished by Premier Zhou. From then onwards, the Soka Gakkai conducted exchanges with China in various areas including culture, education and fine arts. The Golden Bridge of Sino-Japanese friendship became more and more brilliant.

President Ikeda had meeting with several generations of Chinese leaders. This included General Secretary Jiang Zemin, General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.