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Japanese Group Is Active Supporter of Peace

Regarding the article ''Japanese Sect Goes Public With Defense,'' April 4: I thank you for including the response of the Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai to charges from the Aum Supreme Truth. But to call the Soka Gakkai ''another controversial group in Japan'' in the context about the nerve gas attack gives a negative impression of a movement that has devoted its efforts to a more peaceful world.

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As for being ''controversial,'' let's not forget one of the most fundamental reasons: The Soka Gakkai has stood up for the basic rights of the people since its inception. Tsunesabaro Makiguchi, Soka Gakkai's first president, died in prison in 1944 for refusing to compromise his religious beliefs in the face of suppression from Japan's wartime government. As long as there are authoritarian and corrupt elements in society, such a group will always be labeled controversial.

The Soka Gakkai has been an active supporter of the United Nations for more than two decades; Soka Gakkai youths have engaged in more than a dozen fund-raising drives in support of UN relief activities for refugees.

The Soka Gakkai and its international component, SGI, have been officially registered as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with various UN institutions since the early 1980s.

This year, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, the SGI-USA is engaged in various educational activities throughout the country to raise awareness of the UN's mission and accomplishments.

Soka Gakkai's activities are based on a profound respect for the dignity of life. To mention us in the context of the recent nerve gas attack in Japan without mentioning our positive contributions to society does a disservice to our 12 million members and many friends around the world.

Al Albergate

Santa Monica, Calif.

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Director of public relations

Soka Gakkai International-USA

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