Feature

The Founding of the Young Men's Division

Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the Youth Division.

SGI-USA young men's division members singing arm in arm, Weston, Florida, November 2015. Photo: Marco Giannavola.


[1951] “The next president of the Soka Gakkai will without a doubt appear from among those present here today,” said second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda at the inaugural meeting of the young men’s division held on July 11. On that day, welcomed by pouring rain, 180 young men gathered, many in tattered clothes. Among their few possessions was their burning passion to achieve kosen-rufu. As President Toda made his declaration, he looked directly at the 23-year-old Daisaku Ikeda, who was approaching his fourth year of Buddhist practice.

At that moment, Mr. Ikeda recalled his meeting with President Toda earlier that year on January 6. At the time, because his businesses had gone under and he faced enormous debts—with some creditors even threatening his life—Mr. Toda had stepped down as Soka Gakkai general director.

Amid these circumstances, he said to his young disciple Daisaku Ikeda: “Should the worst happen, I entrust you with everything—the Soka Gakkai, the credit association and the Daito Commerce and Industry Company. Will you take charge of them and, if possible, my family as well?” (The Human Revolution, p. 591).

Following this exchange, Daisaku intensified his efforts to support and fulfill his mentor’s vision for kosen-rufu.

[1952] On December 16, with 38 young men, President Toda formed the Suiko-kai to train a new generation of young men who could shoulder responsibility for the future of the Soka Gakkai, armed with strong faith and wide-ranging knowledge. The group studied classic novels of the East and West, discussing what they were learning and how to relate it to the advancement of kosen-rufu.

[1958] In January, Daisaku Ikeda reported to Mr. Toda that the young men’s division was approaching 100,000 members. In response, President Toda said: “That’s wonderful! When 100,000 young men are united, they can achieve anything. The dawn of a new age for the people is coming” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, p. 158).

[1961] On November 5, Daisaku Ikeda actualized President Toda’s vision before his passing to gather 100,000 young men’s division members from across Japan. He called out to his mentor in his heart: “Sensei . . . today I have achieved one of the promises I made to you. Please look at these 100,000 youth who carry on your spirit” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, p. 158).