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Guidance for Leadership

2020: Everyone Advances and Becomes a Capable Person

Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada discusses the significance of 2020, the Year of Advancement and Capable People, at the 43rd Headquarters Leaders Meeting, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 6. Photo by SEIKYO PRESS

The following is adapted and excerpted from Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada’s speech on Oct. 6 during the 43rd Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting, held at the Soka Gakkai Okinawa Training Center in Onna-son, Okinawa. The text appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper.

Congratulations on holding the 43rd Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu and the Okinawa General Meeting! Today, 114 SGI members join us from five countries and territories.

Recently, I traveled to India, Thailand and China. These successive visits made me realize how magnificently the seeds of peace and happiness, planted everywhere by SGI President Ikeda, have been carefully nurtured and are now fully blooming.

In India, the long-awaited new headquarters building and the Ikeda Auditorium at the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden have been completed. I was granted a meeting with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and later attended a conferral ceremony of an honorary doctorate of philosophy upon President Ikeda by the prestigious Manav Rachna University—a testament to the growing recognition of the SGI in Indian society.

Meanwhile, the Soka Gakkai membership in Thailand has grown tenfold over the past 25 years. The men’s division members there have been particularly active as they aim to achieve a network of 75,000 next year.

Former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, who has met Sensei on several occasions, commented to me that Dr. Ikeda has contributed to harmony around the world, and each time they meet, the prime minister learns many things from him. He said that he has written down everything they have discussed and remembers it all. In Thailand, too, Sensei’s philosophy of peace has become deeply rooted in society.

Further proof of the trust we have gained in Thailand is the fact that numerous local TV stations aired my meeting with Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn—the daughter of His Late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the younger sister of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

In addition, in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on behalf of the Soka Gakkai, I attended a commemorative reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. I also met with Zhou Bingde, niece of former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. She holds the Soka Gakkai in high esteem for its longstanding commitment to Japan-China friendship, and she concluded by stating that the only way to ensure a movement’s succession is through concrete action.

Throughout the world, be it in India, Thailand or elsewhere, we can see clear results of the concrete actions we have been taking as disciples of President Ikeda, awakened to our mission as Bodhisattvas of the Earth and filled with the resolve that “I am Shin’ichi Yamamoto!”

The year 2020, marking the 90th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding, also marks the 60th anniversary of Sensei’s inauguration as third president.

The Soka Gakkai’s yearly theme in 1960, when Sensei became president, was the Year of Advancement. Let’s demonstrate President Ikeda’s greatness to the world by showing actual proof of further advancing worldwide kosen-rufu and expanding the ranks of capable people.

With this, we have designated 2020 the Year of Advancement and Capable People. Let’s strive together with this theme!

Since his days as a youth, Sensei led successive victories [in propagation], from Kamata Chapter’s February Campaign (1952) to Sapporo’s Summer Campaign (1955), the Osaka Campaign (1956) and the Yamaguchi Campaign (1957).

He once shared this story: “In my days of youth, at the behest of [second Soka Gakkai President Josei] Toda, I became the acting leader of Bunkyo Chapter, which was struggling to produce propagation results. The slogan among members in the chapter became ‘advancement.’ They told one another, ‘If our chapter doesn’t advance, then the Soka Gakkai as a whole won’t advance either.’ Buoyed by this conviction, we spiritedly waged a vigorous struggle.”

Let’s also stand up with the conviction that “Without my advancement, worldwide kosen-rufu will not advance.” And let’s vigorously exert ourselves!

Sensei also taught us the following: “I made it a point to personally meet each member of Bunkyo Chapter. At the time, members in each chapter were scattered over a wide area. This was the same for Bunkyo Chapter. I took action with lightning speed to pave the way, doing my utmost to wholeheartedly encourage the members wherever I went. And by December of that year, Bunkyo Chapter astonished the entire organization by rising to the top in propagation results.”

In fact, the chapter leader’s husband, who was busy working and resented the arrogance of some leaders, had been avoiding Soka Gakkai activities.

But President Ikeda seized the opportunity to visit him. Bowing deeply to him, Sensei praised his wife for her hard work as a chapter leader. As a result of this visit, the husband’s views transformed, and over time he grew in faith, eventually succeeding his wife as the chapter leader.

To develop capable people, we must first set the example by becoming capable ourselves. Let us reaffirm this basic point as we make 2020 a truly astounding year in which “everyone advances” and “everyone becomes a capable person.”

When President Ikeda turned 60 in 1988, his longtime friend Konosuke Matsushita—the famed industrialist [Panasonic founder] known as the “god of management”—sent Sensei a congratulatory letter, writing, “I pray that you will enjoy lasting good health and strive with the spirit of creating another Soka Gakkai all over again!”

With accelerating trends toward a rapidly aging society and a declining birthrate, we must be bold and flexible in quickly responding to this challenge, and transform our organizational structures and operations as needed. It is important for us not to stubbornly refuse change nor simply submit to it. Instead, we must rise to the challenge and tackle it with vigor, for now is the time to transform everything into an opportunity for the Soka Gakkai to enter a new phase of development.

In 2020, as we celebrate 60 years since Sensei assumed his presidency, it is our time, as his successors, to “strive with the spirit of creating another Soka Gakkai all over again,” fully exuding vibrant energy to continue our great development.

Let us continue identifying and training many more capable people to advance kosen-rufu one step at a time in our groups, our districts and our chapters.

Let’s commemorate our 90th anniversary and assure Sensei of our continued advancement.

As a first step, we will celebrate resounding victory with the Nov. 18 completion of the World Seikyo Center, signaling widely the arrival of a new era of our successive advancement! Thank you very much!

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