Faith Training Groups of the Youth Division
Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Youth Division!
“A new century will be created by the passion and the power of youth,” wrote second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, expressing his hopes that young people will develop into individuals who can move society in the direction of happiness and peace. Always keeping in mind the future of humanity and the world, President Toda and SGI President Ikeda established several training groups for youth division members to develop strong conviction in their vow to realize kosen-rufu in unity with their mentor and to forge bonds of friendship rooted in this shared vow. The following is a presentation on the various stages and training opportunities within the youth division.
Future Division members range from students in elementary through high school. There are three subgroups: Elementary School Division, Junior High School Division and High School Division. When establishing the High School Division in June 1964, President Ikeda offered the following words: “I hope that you will all study hard over the next 10 years and build a solid base for your lives. I also hope that you will become the foundation of the Soka Gakkai and kosen-rufu in the future, working for the happiness of others and world peace” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 9, p. 94).
The young Daisaku Ikeda formed the Brass Band on May 6, 1954, with just 16 members, and a vision to start a great cultural movement from the Soka Gakkai. At the time, many Soka Gakkai leaders questioned the connection between music and kosen-rufu. Only President Toda understood Daisaku’s intentions and encouraged him to develop the group. In his “Precepts for Brass Band,” President Ikeda clarifies the group’s purpose: “I would like to say that your spirit should transcend vanity, as well as musical techniques and ability. The sound of the Brass Band should be the rhythm of faith. It must roar with the sound of passion.”
FIFE AND DRUM CORPS
The group was formed on July 22, 1956, with 33 members. Only a few could actually produce sound from their instruments. Sixty years later, they are one of the foremost music ensembles in Japan, and SGI countries around the world have established their own Fife and Drum Corps. In his foundational poem for the group, “Angels of Peace,” President Ikeda writes: “Using neither bullets nor bayonets, / But only simple fifes and drums, / You play the basic rhythms of the Mystic Universe; / None can help responding from deep within. / Certainly you shall spur the world to peace (July 25, 1997, World Tribune, p. 8).
The Student Division was founded with a gathering of 500 students under the leadership of President Toda. Then Youth Division Chief of Staff Daisaku Ikeda, who was on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, fighting for justice alongside the Soka Gakkai coal miners in the town of Yubari at the time, sent a congratulatory telegram. This spirit of justice and the will to serve and protect the dignity of ordinary people would become their prime mission. Speaking of the mission of the Student Division, President Ikeda wrote: “What the 21st century needs is leadership dedicated to serving the people. I would like my disciples from the Student Division to be the guiding stars who are at the forefront of just such a leadership revolution, rallying the rest of the world onward” (August 3, 2007, World Tribune, p. 3).
This group was established for young women with a sense of responsibility for kosen-rufu who support the Soka Gakkai and its members behind the scenes. President Ikeda writes: “Their lives reverberated with the spirit: ‘We of the Byakuren Group, striving to understand our mentor’s heart ever more deeply, have an important mission to fulfill that means far more to us than fleeting worldly pleasures! We will leave behind a clear and indestructible legacy of our fighting spirit for kosen-rufu!’ The spirit of self-motivation, of standing up of one’s own accord to serve others and to work for kosen-rufu—it is from this very spirit that the Byakuren Group emerged.” (Byakuren Group Handbook, p. 12)
On November 2, 1976, the Soka Group, which comprises young men who support Soka Gakkai event planning and operations, was established. At the 1st Soka Group General Meeting on January 6, 1977, President Ikeda declared: “The full mission of the Soka Group is to be the driving force for the advance of kosen-rufu, and to make the entire Soka Gakkai strong so that it will endure into the far-distant future” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 125).
The Gajokai was established on February 1, 1971, as a group for young men who support the security and operations for Soka Gakkai facilities. During an encounter with Gajokai members patrolling the perimeter of a Soka Gakkai center, President Ikeda said: “I can’t go along with you on your rounds each time, but in my heart I’m always with you. We share the same mission. Please protect our headquarters in my stead. Protect our culture and community centers. Protect our members” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, pp. 88–89).