March 16 is a symbolic day for Soka Gakkai and SGI members, commemorating the occasion on March 16, 1958, when Josei Toda, second president of the Soka Gakkai, then in frail health, made an impassioned speech to 6,000 Soka Gakkai youth, entrusting them with the responsibility for the future of the Soka Gakkai and its efforts to contribute to the creation of a peaceful world and promote understanding of the humanistic philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. In particular, Toda's closest follower, Daisaku Ikeda (current SGI President), took on this responsibility, eventually becoming the third president of the Soka Gakkai in 1960 at the age of 32 and helping to develop the Soka Gakkai as a movement promoting peace, culture and education.
Toda passed away on April 2, 1958, just two weeks after the March 16 gathering, confident that his efforts would be continued by the youth in whom he had great trust. The previous year, on September 8, 1957, he had issued a Declaration Calling for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons at a meeting of 50,000 Soka Gakkai youth at Mitsuzawa Stadium in Yokohama, calling on those present to take responsibility for carrying on the struggle against these inhumane weapons which he termed a threat to humanity's right to live.
March 16 is now viewed within the Soka Gakkai and the SGI as a day of new departures, "of eternal beginnings and perpetual hope." It is also an occasion for focusing on fostering capable youth.
Mr. Ikeda has stated, "It is a time when people renew their profound resolution to accomplish kosen-rufu, a time when they put their minds together and make a fresh start." The Japanese phrase kosen-rufu is often interpreted as "world peace through individual happiness." It signifies a vision of social peace brought about by the widespread acceptance of core values such as unfailing respect for the dignity of human life. On an individual level, it involves the construction of a state of life of indestructible happiness through a process of "human revolution" or inner-motivated change. On a broader societal level, it means building a peaceful society through contribution to their families and local communities made by individuals who are actively transforming their own lives.
Around the world, SGI members celebrate March 16 by holding commemorative meetings led by youth members. This spirit is also carried on by the youth members of SGI through various peace-related initiatives, such as the following:
SGI-UK Youth Peace Committee Initiatives
Soka Gakkai Japan Youth Peace Committee Initiatives
SGI-USA Victory Over Violence (VOV) Campaign
(See also VOV website http://www.vov.com/)
Youth Petitions for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
See also People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition http://www.peoplesdecade.org/
Read more about the history of March 16 in the following works by Daisaku Ikeda:
The Human Revolution, Book Two: vol. 12 (Chapter 4: Successors)
(World Tribune Press, 2004)
The New Human Revolution, vol. 2 (Chapter 2: Training)
(World Tribune Press, 1995)
The New Human Revolution, vol.4 (Chapter 1: Spring Storm)
(World Tribune Press, 1996)