The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
              The 30th Annual Conference

On March 21 and 22, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) held its 30th Annual Conference at Soka University and the IOP respectively.

Since its inauguration, the IOP Annual Conferences have been held with the aim of achieving a global civilization through the study of various topics including the Lotus Sutra, interreligious and intercivilizational dialogue, peace, human rights and the environment.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the IOP invited Associate Professor Dr. Raihanah Abdullah, Deputy Dean of Humanities Research Cluster, University of Malaya, and Associate Professor Dr. Faridah Noor, Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, University of Malaya (UMCCD) as distinguished guests. A symposium was held in the afternoon of March 21 on the theme, “Intercivilizational Dialogue: Toward the Mutual Understanding of Buddhism and Islam.”

In October 2012, the IOP and UMCCD co-organized a joint symposium titled, “Intercivilisational Dialogue towards Peace, Harmonious Coexistence and Sustainability” held at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The IOP and UMCCD signed an MoU in the presence of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who also gave a keynote address at the symposium.

In February 2014, the exhibition “The Lotus Sutra—A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence” was held at Wisma Kebudayaan SGM (SGM Grand Culture Center) in Kuala Lumpur. During this period, the IOP, UMCCD, Department of National Unity and Integration, Prime Minister’s Department, and Soka Gakkai Malaysia jointly organized a conference on the theme of “Peace and Harmonious Coexistence―an Islamic Buddhist Dialogue.” Through these exchanges, the IOP and UMCCD have been promoting mutual understanding between Buddhism and Islam.

At the recent symposium, Dr. Raihanah delivered her speech titled “Gender Equality in Islam.” In her speech, she noted that  the concept of equality between men and women is emphasized in the Qur’an, and it serves as the foundation of policy and legal provisions including Islamic Family Laws that have been promulgated in several Islamic jurisdictions. Nonetheless, this concept has often been misunderstood. She stressed that discrimination against women needs to be eliminated, and that the basic human rights, economic and social status of women in contemporary society must be guaranteed.

Dr. Faridah Noor, a linguist, analyzed the language features of the Lotus Sutra's fifth chapter, “Parable of the Medicinal Herbs” translated by Burton Watson. In her presentation, she focused
on the language of impartiality in the Lotus Sutra and shared her understanding of the principal of co-existence in the parable, which is that people of different backgrounds, status and gender live together in harmony while respecting each other’s rights. She commented that the concept of equality exists both in Islam and Buddhism and that it is vital for them to hold open dialogues so that we can co-exist and share our enriching qualities with each other.

Other presentations given at the symposium include:

・“Dialogue Between Islam and Buddhism in Medicine” by Dr. Boey Chiong Meng, Deputy Dean,
Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya and IOP Overseas Research Fellow
・”Gender Equality in Buddhism in the period of Buddha” by Dr. Toshie Kurihara, IOP Senior Research Fellow
・”Harmony and Coexistence in Islamic Philosophy―The Emanation-Theory in al-Fārābī’s The Excellent City―”by Dr. Tatsuya Yamazaki, IOP Research Fellow

In conjunction with the symposium, the IOP held research meetings on March 21 and 22.

The programs of the meetings are as follows:

<March 21>
・”On Belief Succession of New Religious Group in Japan” by Dr. Sunao Taira, IOP Research Fellow.
・”Nietzsche’s Theory of Life and Makiguchi’s Theory of Value” by Prof. Jiro Oguma, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow
・”From Coexistence to Conflict: Changes in and Collapse of Coexistent Systems in the Ottoman Empire” by Dr. Hideki Iwaki, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow
・” The good for the community in Islam and Buddhist perspectives, a comparative analysis” by Dr. Francesca Corrao, IOP Overseas Research Fellow

<March 22>
・”Kyogen Illustrations and Paintings in Edo Period―Through them, what we can see about Kyogen” by Dr. Michiko Fujioka, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow
・”Some Remarks on “Ten Such's” in the Second Chapter of the Miaofa lianhua jing” by Dr. Ken'ichi Maegawa, IOP Research Fellow
・”Aiming at the development of a new cosmology
―Considerations Based on the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Nāgārujuna’s Middle Way)―” by Assoc. Prof. Hiroshi Aoki, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow
・”Nichiren’s Esho-funi  View and Trial Approach to Forest Conservation” by Dr. Akira Hiratsuka, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow and Prof. Kenzo Wakae, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow
・”Prevention of the Bullying Cycle and Belief in Fairness” by Prof. Yuichi Toda, IOP Commissioned Research Fellow

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