Rissho Kosei-kai has supported the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) since 1979, based on one of its guiding principles, which is to support United Nations activities for world peace. In addition, through its participation in meetings of the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs, Rissho Kosei-kai seeks constantly to enhance Japan's contribution to the international community. Over the years Rissho Kosei-kai has strengthened its ties with the world body in many ways, including the dispatch of personnel to UNHCR headquarters in Geneva.
Since the UN International Year of the Child in 1979, young Rissho Kosei-kai members have been conducting campaigns throughout Japan to solicit contributions from the public for UNICEF. The primary purpose of UNICEF is to provide assistance for mothers and children the world over, but it is also our hope that participating in this activity, whether by collecting contributions or making donations, will help people to realize that we are all bodhisattvas by nature. In other words, the UNICEF fund-raising campaign provides an opportunity for members to practice the way of the bodhisattva.
Through the campaign conducted in public places, charity bazaars, and the Donate-a-Meal Movement on the special Rissho Kosei-kai annual Youth Day, young members participate in volunteer activities in the days just before and after the third Sunday in May.
Rissho Kosei-kai believes that deep down everyone, religious or not, wants to help others. But there are all too few chances for people to put that goodwill into action. For this reason, the organization has encouraged young people who are not members of Rissho Kosei-kai or other religious groups to join in taking part in collecting contributions for UNICEF. The success of this endeavor validates our conviction that everyone at heart is a bodhisattva.
The contributions collected through the campaign are turned over each year to the responsible person at the head office of the Japan Committee for UNICEF in Tokyo by representative child members of Rissho Kosei-kai on behalf of all members. Over the past 20 years the UNICEF fund-raising campaign has collected some 5.3 billion Japanese yen.
The funds are transferred to UNICEF headquarters in New York. Such donations can be applied to countries and projects specified by the fund-raiser. In the three years from 1998, Rissho Kosei-kai designated programs to improve education for children in Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and the Philippines. Some of the collected amount was also to be used to aid child refugees in Kosovo.