In a ceremony at Soka University on October 7, Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) lay Buddhist organization, was awarded an honorary professorship from Beijing Normal University, bringing to 200 the number of honorary doctorates, professorships and equivalent honors given in recognition of his efforts to promote peace through dialogue, citizen diplomacy and cross-cultural exchange.
Established in 1902, Beijing Normal University is China's oldest teacher training university. In conferring the honorary professorship, the university's highest accolade, Vice President Ge Jianping stated, "Mr. Ikeda has made a profound contribution to the cause of Sino-Japanese friendship. He has traveled tirelessly to spread humanistic education and made great efforts to promote world peace." Professor Ge also mentioned that Ikeda's pioneering educational ideas are now the focus of scholarly research in China.
In his acceptance speech Ikeda called for the strengthening of joint efforts by China and Japan toward protection of the environment as one way of improving relations. He urged the two governments to build on the existing Sino-Japan Friendship Center for Environmental Protection in Beijing and take the first steps in developing a comprehensive environmental partnership which could benefit the whole of Asia over the next 100 years. This would feature the sharing of technology, skills and human resources in order to address issues such as pollution prevention, energy efficiency and environmental education.