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Commemorating 90 Years of the Soka Gakkai

Illustration by Kenji Mase.

“The Soka Gakkai was not built by its mentors and then inherited by the disciples. From the beginning, it was the crystallization of the shared commitment of mentor and disciple. “When we dedicate ourselves to this way of mentor and disciple, the boundless strength of a noble and heroic victor will surge forth in our lives. We will be able to lead the most joyous and fulfilling youth, the most satisfying lives.”[1]

Ikeda Sensei

This month, we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding with interviews on the significance of the next decade leading to our centennial and on the philosophy and practice of “human education.”

The SGI’s wide-ranging efforts for peace, culture and education in 192 countries and territories find their origins in November 18, 1930, the day when two educators— Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and his disciple, Josei Toda—published The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy, marking the founding of the Soka Gakkai.

Throughout his life, Mr. Makiguchi, the founding Soka Gakkai president, boldly promoted educational reform in Japan. He firmly believed that the purpose of education was to enable students to lead fulfilling lives.

Fourteen years after the Soka Gakkai’s founding, on November 18, 1944, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison for his beliefs. Mr. Toda, who was imprisoned together with his mentor, survived and rebuilt the Soka Gakkai based on his wish to respond to his mentor’s vision. Over the next several years, the Soka Gakkai became a burgeoning religious movement that sought to transform society through the philosophy and practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

At the third memorial of his mentor’s death, Josei Toda addressed his mentor, conveying his deep gratitude for him, stating: “In your vast and boundless compassion, you let me accompany you even to prison. As a result, I could read with my entire being the passage from the Lotus Sutra, ‘Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers.’ The benefit of this was coming to know my former existence as a Bodhisattva of the Earth and to absorb with my very life even a small degree of the sutra’s meaning. Could there be any greater happiness than this?”[2]

President Toda went on to entrust the organization’s future to his disciple, Daisaku Ikeda, who became the Soka Gakkai’s third president on May 3, 1960.

Nichiren Daishonin’s commitment to enabling ordinary people to attain enlightenment was revived through the selfless dedication of the three founding presidents linked by the eternal bonds of mentor and disciple. Today, the SGI has developed into a worldwide movement of Bodhisattvas of the Earth committed to transforming society based on the shared commitment of mentor and disciple.


  1. June 2018 Living Buddhism, p. 27. ↩︎
  2. The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 89. ↩︎

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