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Our History

Celebrating 44 Years of the SGI

Historic—A view of the Charles River and Boston skyline on a winter afternoon. Starting as a stream in the Metro-West suburb of Hopkinton (the starting point of the Boston Marathon), the Charles River flows 80 miles through 23 towns, before reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston. The river is well-known for its rowing, sculling, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, dragonboating, and sailing, both recreational and competitive.

The Soka Gakkai International turns 44 on Jan. 26. To commemorate SGI Day, please enjoy these excerpts from volume 21 of The New Human Revolution. SGI President Ikeda, who established the global kosen-rufu movement, appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

The sun of peace had risen. A new curtain had lifted on worldwide kosen-rufu. On Jan. 26, 1975, a great wave of peace surged out from the emerald island of Guam, southernmost of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific. On that day, 158 representative members from 51 countries and territories assembled at the Guam International Trade Center Building for the First World Peace Conference. At the conference, the Soka Gakkai International was founded as an international body composed of member organizations around the globe, and Shin’ichi Yamamoto was appointed its president at the request of all present. It was a historic turning point toward creating a century of life and of peace.

In order to realize lasting peace for all humanity, we need to instill in people’s hearts a spirit of compassion for all living beings in accord with the Buddhist principle of the sanctity of life, which itself is based on the recognition that all life inherently possesses the supremely noble and unsurpassed life state of Buddhahood. This process is what we call kosen-rufu. (pp. 1–2)

• • •

Early on the morning of Jan. 26, the day of the First World Peace Conference, Shin’ichi stood on the beach on the island of Guam.

He recalled traveling with his mentor, Josei Toda, in the summer of 1954, to Mr. Toda’s hometown of Atsuta, a village in Hokkaido. Gazing out at the Japan Sea as the sun set, Mr. Toda had said to Shin’ichi, “I will build a solid foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan, but you will pave the way for kosen-rufu throughout the world.” Shin’ichi had engraved those words in his heart as if they were a final injunction.

And now, reminiscing on those words, he addressed Mr. Toda in his heart: “Sensei! Today members from 51 countries and territories around the globe are assembling for a world peace conference. Kosen-rufu is spreading around the world, proclaiming your message of global peace. At today’s conference, it seems I will become the president of the Soka Gakkai International and begin to take the lead, both in name and in reality, of global kosen-rufu. As your representative, I am about to soar into the world.”

And on that day, Shin’ichi was indeed appointed the president of the SGI by the unanimous decision of all the conference participants. That moment marked the dawn of a new and epochal day in the history of kosen-rufu. (pp. 23–24)

• • •

The participants’ faces were flushed with enthusiasm, and their eyes sparkled with vibrant determination. Shin’ichi’s words grew more impassioned: “The sun of Nichiren Buddhism has begun to rise above the distant horizon. Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same. At times I will lead in the forefront, at other times I shall stand by your side, and at still other times, I will watch over you from behind the scenes. I will always be supporting you with all my heart.”

Shin’ichi closed by ardently calling out to the participants, “As courageous, compassionate and dedicated disciples of Nichiren Daishonin who are fully committed to truth and justice, please live out your whole lives in a positive and uplifting way, striving for the prosperity of your countries, the happiness of the people and the precious existence of humankind itself.” (pp. 33–34)

Test Your Knowledge of the SGI’s History!

1. Where was the SGI established?
a) Tokyo
b) Guam
c) Los Angeles

2. How many countries/territories were represented during the SGI’s formation?
a) 158
b) 51
c) 192

3. At the First World Peace Conference on Jan. 26, 1975, what did SGI President Ikeda write in the guest book’s column for nationality?
a) Japanese
b) global citizen
c) the world

4. What is the SGI’s membership today?
a) over 12 million members in 192 countries and territories
b) 8 million members in 100 countries and territories
c) 10 million members in 150 countries and territories

5.What was the first country outside Japan that President Ikeda visited in his efforts to spread Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world?
a) Canada
b) United States
c) Brazil

Answers: 1. b, 2. b, 3. c, 4. a, 5. b

The Voice of My Mentor Lives On

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