Our History

Embarking Afresh Toward World Peace

SGI President Ikeda refers to May 3rd as a time “to embark afresh on our struggle for world peace and the happiness of humanity.”

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SGI members around the world celebrate May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, which SGI President Ikeda refers to as a time “to embark afresh on our struggle for world peace and the happiness of humanity.”

Inauguration day—Daisaku Ikeda assumes the responsibility of third Soka Gakkai president, May 3, 1960. Photo by Seikyo Press
Inauguration day—Daisaku Ikeda assumes the responsibility of third Soka Gakkai president, May 3, 1960. Photo by Seikyo Press

It was on May 3, 1951, that Josei Toda was inaugurated the second Soka Gakkai president, and on May 3, 1960, that Daisaku Ikeda became the third president.

May 3 is also honored as Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day, symbolizing the vital role that women play within the organization.

Mr. Toda became second president at a time when there were only around 3,000 Soka Gakkai members in Japan—seven years after the passing of first president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, who died in prison from old age and malnutrition during World War II. He was imprisioned as a “thought criminal” for never compromising his religious beliefs.

President Toda announced at his inauguration his goal of achieving a membership of 750,000 households during his lifetime. “This was a soaring pledge to accomplish kosen-rufu,” President Ikeda later wrote. “The goal he announced was truly staggering. But I was overjoyed. Courage surged through me. My mentor, incomparable leader of kosen-rufu, had finally resolved to stand at the helm as president.”

Together with his direct disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, President Toda transformed the Soka Gakkai into a thriving organization with more than 750,000 families before his passing on April 2, 1958.

In May 1960, the 32-year old Daisaku succeeded his mentor as the third president. Under his leadership, the SGI has today spread to 192 countries and territories with more than 12 million members.

President Ikeda recognized that the Soka Gakkai’s growth was largely due to the efforts of the women’s division members—the “mothers of kosen-rufu.” On April 27, 1988, at the First National Soka Gakkai Women’s Division Meeting held in Tokyo, President Ikeda therefore proposed that May 3 also be designated Soka Gakkai Mother’s Day in the spirit of appreciation for their sincere efforts.

Adapted from www.sgi.org.