Feature

The Day of Mentor and Disciple

The History of July 3, 1957

Photo: © ISTOCKPHOTO / COASTALMAPS.


On July 3, 1957, Daisaku Ikeda, the Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, was arrested on false charges of election law violations. These allegations were brought about during a House of Councillors by-election held earlier the same year.

The news of his arrest spread like wildfire throughout Kansai. Outraged, many members gathered at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters building in Osaka to pray fervently for his safety and for the truth to prevail.

The young Daisaku was arrested on July 3—the same day in 1945 when his mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, was released from prison at the end of World War II. Mr. Toda and his mentor, first Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, had been jailed as “thought criminals” for refusing to worship state-sponsored Shinto during the war. Mr. Makiguchi died in prison, a martyr to his beliefs.

It is a day to reconfirm what is true and just.

Recalling the events of his unjust arrest, President Ikeda says: “Above all, I was deeply touched by the fact that before I was detained, my mentor, President Toda, met me at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and urged me: ‘You must not die. Please—do not die!’ With great emotion, he proclaimed: ‘Daisaku, should death overtake you, I will rush to your side and throw myself upon you and accompany you in death.’ I was prepared to undergo anything, no matter how unreasonable, to protect such a great mentor” (May 2014 Living Buddhism, p. 24).

For 15 days, police subjected Daisaku to repeated verbal abuse in closed interrogations—on one occasion, they paraded him outdoors in handcuffs to humiliate him in public.

“It was clear that the authorities had their sights set on implicating Mr. Toda,” President Ikeda writes. “I therefore firmly resolved to act as a shield and prevent them from laying so much as a finger on my mentor” (Oct. 22, 2010, World Tribune, p. 10).

Soka Gakkai members congregated outside the Osaka Detention Center, some weeping bitter tears. On July 12, some 40,000 members attended a protest rally at the National Sports Arena in Kuramae district in Tokyo.

On July 17, Daisaku was released from jail. That morning, from his jail cell, he could hear members of the brass band playing Soka Gakkai songs nearby. That evening, some 20,000 members attended a rally at the Central Civic Hall in Nakanoshima.

After a trial spanning nearly five years, on Jan. 25, 1962, Daisaku was cleared of all charges.

July 3 has since come to be known as the Day of Mentor and Disciple, because it commemorates the united spirit of mentor and disciple to fight undaunted against those forces that aim to destroy what is true and just. As a result of their courage and dedication, the SGI has expanded into a global movement of peace, culture and education with 12 million members in 192 countries and territories.