Skip to main content

Cheers of Victory

Cheers of Victory
Volume 30, Chapter 5 (1–10)

Ikeda Sensei’s ongoing novel, The New Human Revolution, which he began writing in 1993, is the history of the progress of the Soka Gakkai following his inauguration in 1960 as its third president, and a record of the modern development of the Soka Gakkai and the SGI. It also serves as practical guidance for how to further expand our movement for kosen-rufu. “Cheers of Victory” is the fifth chapter of volume 30, the final volume of The New Human Revolution. Ikeda Sensei appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

In the hearts of youth are found an endless blue sky of hope, a brightly burning crimson sun of passion and a wellspring of irrepressible courage and boundless creativity.

Youth are the protagonists of a new age. The future depends entirely on the aims they cherish, how hard they study, how bravely they act and how seriously they work to develop themselves.

Returning to Japan from his trip to the Soviet Union, Europe and North America, Shin’ichi Yamamoto resolved that now was the time to pour his energies into fostering young people.

On the evening of July 10, 1981, an exuberant youth division general meeting was held at the Soka Gakkai Kansai Culture Center in Osaka, an ever-victorious realm of kosen-rufu. It commemorated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the young men’s division and young women’s division. Shin’ichi sent a congratulatory message in the form of a poem via telegram, which was read at the event. It expressed his heartfelt hopes for the development and success of the youth, leaders of the next generation:

The way is steadily opening.
My young friends,
your time is steadily approaching.
I am striving with all my might
to prepare you for taking your place
upon the brilliant stage of kosen-rufu.
Let not one of you backslide,
not one succumb to cowardice,
not one be disparaged.

Our Soka youth division celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
It is now thirty years old.
“At thirty, I took my stand,”[1]
said the ancient sage [Confucius].

I hope you will join me, with vibrant courage,
in aiming toward 2001,
making the next two decades
a wonderful age
when people throughout society
continue to applaud and admire our movement,
an age that will be the main arena of your mission,
a tumultuous yet exciting time.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s message closed with these lines:

Youth in the United States,
in Germany, Italy, and France,
in the United Kingdom,
in Southeast Asia,
and around the globe,
have all stood up for genuine peace.

I pray and look forward to
your wonderful unity and growth,
to the wonderful record of continuous victory
that you, the youth of Japan, will achieve
as true like-minded friends in faith.

His message was an impassioned call for the youth to rise to action.

Shin’ichi wanted the youth of Soka around the globe to work together for kosen-rufu—for world peace—and to lead the way in spreading the revitalizing principle of respect for the dignity of life.

As if in response to his wish, a large banner reading “A New Chapter in Kosen-rufu Has Begun—Let’s Advance Boldly and Triumphantly toward 2001!” adorned the back of the hall, expressing the young people’s vow.

At 4:00 p.m. on July 11, on the other side of the globe in the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu—about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the great Iguaçu Falls—close to a thousand members from Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia gathered for the first Soka Gakkai South America young men’s division general meeting. Some had traveled for 80 hours by charter bus down the length of Brazil from Belém, a major port city in the Amazon region.

Shin’ichi also sent a congratulatory message to this gathering: “The 21st century belongs to you. I call on you, my young friends, to advance steadily but surely and accomplish wonderful achievements for kosen-rufu that will shine forever in South American history as you strive to take on all challenges, chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo powerfully, excel at your jobs, value each stage of your lives, attend to daily life and study Buddhism. With all my heart, I am praying and looking forward to your growth and success.”

The youth of South America stood up eagerly in response to Shin’ichi’s call. The curtain had risen on an age of youth.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

The news came like a bolt from the blue: Soka Gakkai President Kiyoshi Jujo had died of a heart attack at his home in Shinanomachi shortly before 1:00 a.m. on July 18 (1981). He was 58.

The previous day, Jujo had attended a Kita-Tama Zone general meeting with Shin’ichi Yamamoto on the athletic field of the Soka Schools in Kodaira City, Tokyo. He then attended the annual Glory Festival of the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools.

That evening, Shin’ichi had invited Jujo, Eisuke Akizuki and other top leaders to his home, where they did gongyo together. Afterward, Shin’ichi reported on the remarkable development of Soka youth around the world, and Jujo said with a happy smile, “I look forward to the 21st century.” A lively conversation ensued.

Jujo left Shin’ichi’s at 10:00 p.m. and, after talking with several other leaders, he returned home. He chanted to the Gohonzon, took a bath and went to bed. A short time later, he said he felt unwell and then passed away peacefully as if going to sleep.

Jujo had become Soka Gakkai president (in 1979) in the turbulent period of conflict with the priesthood, which had seen Shin’ichi step down to become honorary president and be barred from giving guidance at meetings. Under these challenging conditions, Jujo had done his utmost to steer the organization forward. He had also been under great strain trying to find the best way to deal with the unscrupulous scheming to take control of the Soka Gakkai by attorney Tomomasa Yamawaki, who was arrested in January (1981) on charges of extortion. Though he had been physically strong and robust, the pressure of the past two years had taken a heavy toll on his health.

Jujo was a fellow member with whom Shin’ichi had practiced and worked together for kosen-rufu since his youth. In March 1954, when Shin’ichi was appointed youth division chief of staff, Jujo became a member of the youth staff. Though five years older, Jujo had always admired Shin’ichi, who was his senior in faith, and had fought alongside him through numerous struggles and campaigns. Jujo was one of Shin’ichi’s trusted comrades, with whom he had shared the joys and hardships of striving for kosen-rufu.

When Shin’ichi became the third Soka Gakkai president, Jujo took Shin’ichi as his mentor and strove to be an exemplary disciple. He was deeply aware that the mentor-disciple relationship is the key to ensuring the Soka Gakkai’s perpetual development and the ongoing dynamic progress of kosen-rufu.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Fifty-eight may have been a young age to die, but Kiyoshi Jujo had dedicated his life, fulfilled his mission and completed his work for kosen-rufu in this lifetime. As a naval academy graduate, he had often sung the song “Doki no Sakura” (Cherry Blossom Classmates) and, fittingly, he had left this world like cherry blossoms scattering gracefully after blooming to the fullest.

Nichiren Daishonin writes, “In no time one will return to the dream realm of the nine worlds, the realm of birth and death” (“The Unanimous Declaration by the Buddhas,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 860). He is saying that we who embrace the correct teaching of Buddhism are quickly reborn into this world after death to work once again for kosen-rufu.

On the morning of July 18, Shin’ichi visited Jujo’s home to offer his condolences. He said to Jujo’s wife, Hiroko: “Your husband lived an admirable life, fulfilling his role as a valiant leader of kosen-rufu. I am sure that Nichiren Daishonin is praising him highly, and Mr. Toda is welcoming him with open arms.

“Please overcome your grief and carry on your husband’s aspirations, devoting yourself wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu in his stead. That is the best offering you can make for his eternal happiness. And please raise your children to be capable individuals for kosen-rufu. The best way a family can honor deceased loved ones is to become happy.”

That afternoon, a special meeting of the Soka Gakkai Executive Council was held. Vice President Eisuke Akizuki was nominated as the fifth Soka Gakkai president, and his appointment approved unanimously.

Akizuki was 51 and had joined the Soka Gakkai in 1951. He had contributed significantly to developing the young men’s division in the organization’s early days, serving as young men’s division leader and youth division leader. He was also involved in editing the Seikyo Shimbun, serving as managing editor and editor in chief. He had held key executive positions in the Soka Gakkai, including general administrator and vice president.

Shin’ichi believed that the calm and coolheaded Akizuki would demonstrate excellent capability as the central leader of the Soka Gakkai, which had achieved phenomenal development, and ensure that it progressed solidly in tune with the new age. He also vowed in his heart to continue to watch over and wholeheartedly support everyone more than ever.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

On the evening of Jujo’s death, a wake was held at the Jujo family home, with the funeral taking place the next day, July 19. The Soka Gakkai conducted an official wake on the evening of July 23, followed by a solemn funeral service on July 24, both at the Tokyo Toda Memorial Auditorium in Sugamo. Shin’ichi Yamamoto participated in all of these events and chanted for Jujo’s eternal happiness.

On the evening of July 24, Shin’ichi did gongyo in memory of President Jujo with members from eight Asian countries and territories at the Shinjuku Culture Center. Afterward, he discussed plans and ideas for the future of kosen-rufu in Asia with those present.

Shin’ichi continued with his busy schedule, never resting for a moment.

On July 25, he met with Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state, for the third time in his ongoing search for a way to realize world peace.

On the same day, he attended a Headquarters leaders meeting at the Tokyo Toda Memorial Auditorium marking the Soka Gakkai’s new start. He sincerely applauded the organization on setting sail with new president Akizuki at the helm, and expressed his hope that everyone would take another step forward in working together for kosen-rufu cheerfully, positively and harmoniously.

The following day, he went to Nagano, where he spent until the first week of August encouraging members.

Then, on August 17, he met with Yasushi Akashi, a United Nations under-secretary-general, at the Soka Gakkai’s House of International Friendship (later Tokyo International Friendship House) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. They discussed the upcoming United Nations Day (October 24) and Japan’s role in promoting world peace and fostering culture.

Shin’ichi had consistently stressed that to realize world peace, the United Nations must have power and countries use it as a primary forum for conferring and working together on equal terms.

Shin’ichi said to Under-Secretary-General Akashi, “We will do everything we can to support the United Nations, because we believe it is our mission as people of religious conviction who proclaim the dignity of life to build peace throughout the world and save people from hunger, poverty and disease.”

Nichiren Daishonin’s struggle to establish the correct teaching for the peace of the land begins with the challenge of freeing people from suffering and helping them realize happiness. We fulfill our religious mission as Buddhists by achieving this social mission.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Shin’ichi Yamamoto would meet with Under-Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi a total of 18 times. During those years, the Soka Gakkai cooperated with the United Nations on several exhibitions, including “Nuclear Threat to Our World,” “War and Peace” and “Toward a Century of Humanity: An Overview of Human Rights in Today’s World,” which were held in locations around the world.

In 1992, Mr. Akashi headed the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) as a special representative of the UN secretary-general. At his request, Soka Gakkai youth in Japan initiated a “Voice Aid” campaign, collecting used radios to send to Cambodia. They eventually donated over 280,000 radios, which came to play a crucial role in that country’s first general election following its civil war.

Toward the end of August 1981, Shin’ichi traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, for various events, including the Second SGI General Meeting, where he delivered a commemorative address to 7,500 representatives from around the world.

In closing, he affirmed that the SGI, based on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, would always advance along the great road of peace, culture and education, and asked the members to join him in strengthening their support for the United Nations.

He also visited the East-West Center adjacent to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, engaging in dialogues based on the Buddhist philosophy of peace and harmony.

Our vow as Buddhists is to achieve kosen-rufu, to realize peace and happiness for all humanity.

Commemorative services and other events were held at the head temple from October 10 through 16 that year (1981) to mark the 700th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. Shin’ichi had been appointed chairperson of the anniversary committee by the late High Priest Nittatsu, and continued to work in that role after Nikken succeeded him as high priest. Wishing to maintain harmonious relations between the priesthood and laity for the sake of kosen-rufu, Shin’ichi devoted himself to fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted him. Marked throughout by solemnity and grandeur, the 700th memorial commemorations came to a successful close.

Meanwhile, the Shoshin-kai had been steadily ratcheting up its criticism of Nichiren Shoshu. In September the previous year (1980), Nichiren Shoshu had disciplined some 200 Shoshin-kai priests for disrupting order within the school. In January 1981, a number of them filed a lawsuit against High Priest Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu. The confrontation intensified, growing ever more bitter.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

One after another, priests of the Shoshin-kai were expelled from Nichiren Shoshu.

Though they claimed to be committed to kosen-rufu, they denounced the Soka Gakkai, the organization that had worked tirelessly for that very cause, as “slandering the Law.” They harassed its members, noble children of the Buddha, and disrupted the harmonious relationship between priesthood and laity. Eventually, they drifted from the mighty river of kosen-rufu and sank into the polluted waters of envy and rage that typify the life state of Anger.

Nichiren Shoshu ultimately expelled more than 180 of these priests. It also waged protracted court battles against Shoshin-kai chief priests inhabiting local temples, seeking, among other things, to evict them from properties the school owned.

The Soka Gakkai consistently supported Nichiren Shoshu throughout and strove wholeheartedly for its ongoing prosperity.

Hard-pressed after their expulsion, the Shoshin-kai priests not only kept up their barrage against Nichiren Shoshu but also persistently maligned and defamed the Soka Gakkai.

Only the mentors and disciples of Soka, however, had been advancing kosen-rufu in the real world, selflessly dedicated to propagating the Law, just as Nichiren Daishonin taught. Right and wrong were clear in light of Nichiren’s writings. That was the members’ unshakable conviction. And seeing Shin’ichi Yamamoto not hesitate to stand at the forefront of that struggle, traveling around Japan and the world on his counteroffensive to protect the members, they renewed their determination to stand alongside him.

No matter how deep the darkness or how fierce the storm, when a champion rises to action, the bells of a new day ring and a golden dawn arrives. When the mentors and disciples of Soka cast off their chains and take a step forward united as one, the curtain of victory has already risen.

Shin’ichi vowed to visit the areas where members had suffered the most during the problems with the priesthood. He very much wanted to praise and thank them for their unwavering efforts and to urge them to join him in making a fresh start toward new victories.

The first place Shin’ichi wished to visit was Shikoku [the smallest of Japan’s four main islands]. He wanted to respond to the sincerity of those disciples who, at a time when he wasn’t allowed even to appear at meetings, had traveled to Yokohama on the passenger ferry Sunflower 7 to visit him.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

The September 6 Seikyo Shimbun reported that celebrations to mark the completion of the Soka Gakkai’s Tokushima Auditorium [in Shikoku’s Tokushima Prefecture] would be held in November and that Shin’ichi Yamamoto would attend. Shin’ichi’s attendance at events was rarely announced in advance. Publishing this news expressed his firm determination to join with members throughout Japan in making fresh strides forward.

On October 31, Shin’ichi attended the opening ceremony of the 11th Soka University Festival (in Tokyo) and delivered a lecture titled “Thoughts on History and Historical Figures: Living amid Persecution.”

In it, he discussed several eminent figures who left brilliant legacies, despite lives marked by persecution and adversity, such as Sugawara Michizane (845–903), who spent his last years in exile, and Rai San’yo (1780–1832) and Yoshida Shoin (1830–59), who prepared the way for Japan’s Meiji Restoration (in 1868). He also recounted how many other world figures remained true to their convictions and led great lives in stormy times, such as, in China, the poet and political leader Ch’ü Yüan (Qu Yuan) and the renowned historian Ssu-ma Ch’ien (Sima Qian; c. 145–c. 87 BCE), author of the Historical Records; in India, the nonviolent activist Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948); and in Europe, the writer Victor Hugo (1802–85), the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), and the father of modern painting, Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).

Shin’ichi observed that great undertakings are almost invariably destined to meet opposition and persecution. The reason, he explained, is that individuals who achieve something historic tend to be firmly grounded among and supported by the people. As a result, authorities who rule at the people’s expense feel threatened. Consumed by jealousy born of ambition and self-interest, they are desperate to drive out such leaders of the people. That is the pattern by which persecution unfolds.

He strongly affirmed: “As a Buddhist and as an ordinary citizen, I have faced continuous baseless attacks and harassment. Knowing this pattern, however, I humbly believe that persecution is a badge of honor for a Buddhist; it is a supreme honor in life. I declare here and now that history will be the stern judge that will make the truth clear.”

In front of his beloved Soka University students, Shin’ichi made this declaration of future victory.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

After attending a friendship sports gathering of the Shinjuku Soka family in Tokyo on November 8, Shin’ichi Yamamoto made his way to Kansai. At the Kansai Culture Center that evening, he encouraged participants at a ward and zone leaders meeting. Afterward, he took time to speak informally with representative leaders. Shin’ichi wanted Kansai to always remain a source of perpetual victory, and his heart blazed with a resolve to make that so.

In Shikoku, a series of events marking the completion of the Soka Gakkai’s Tokushima Auditorium took place beginning November 7, led by General Director Kazumasa Morikawa. Members in Tokushima had readied everything to welcome Shin’ichi and were awaiting his visit.

But due to numerous requests to meet with prominent figures and appear at various events, Shin’ichi had been unable to fix a date to travel there. The Soka Gakkai Headquarters notified the Tokushima organization that President Yamamoto was determined to visit and was trying to rearrange his schedule, but there was no guarantee that he could make it.

Members in Tokushima Prefecture, like many others, had suffered bitterly from callous mistreatment by hostile priests. Yet they continued to valiantly defend and proclaim the truth of the Soka Gakkai, sustained by the vow for kosen-rufu they shared with their mentor. That is why they wanted to strive their hardest up to the celebration of the new auditorium’s completion and to make a fresh start together with Shin’ichi.

Shin’ichi, however, did not appear at the November 8 events, either.

November 9 came. In the afternoon, a commemorative gongyo session began. There was still no sign of Shin’ichi. General Director Morikawa led gongyo, and as everyone recited the sutra and chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, they wondered when Shin’ichi would arrive. After all, an article in the Seikyo Shimbun had announced his attendance. Following gongyo, the meeting steadily progressed until it was time for General Director Morikawa to speak. He had just finished when the doors at the back of the room opened.

It was Shin’ichi.

“I’m here at last! I came to keep my promise to you!”

Cheers and applause resounded. Greeting people as he went, Shin’ichi made his way through the audience to the front of the room.

The hearts of mentor and disciples united passionately as one, marking the start of a historic effort that would unfold from Shikoku.

Illustration by Kenichiro Uchida

Shin’ichi Yamamoto had flown in from Osaka in Kansai that afternoon and had come to the meeting straight from Tokushima Airport.

He led the members in gongyo, offered guidance in a relaxed and friendly manner, and urged them to remain courageous in faith, confident that winter always turns to spring.

With smiles as bright as the sun, everyone renewed their determination.

Shin’ichi also visited for the first time the Tokushima Culture Center (later the Tokushima Peace Center), about a 20-minute drive away, and then attended another gongyo session that evening back at the auditorium.

In addition to giving wholehearted encouragement, he played seven tunes for the members on the piano, including “The Three Martyrs of Atsuhara.” He wanted to thank them for their efforts and express his hope that they would raise the curtain on a new age of kosen-rufu in Tokushima.

The young women’s division Uzushio (Whirlpool) Chorus[2] and the women’s division Wakakusa (Young Grass) Chorus also performed. The latter sang the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—the first and second verses in Japanese and the third in German.

The city of Naruto[3] in Tokushima Prefecture happened to be the first place in Asia where Beethoven’s Ninth was performed in full.

During World War I, the Japanese army attacked and gained control of the German port of Tsingtao (Qingdao), China, which had been defended by a small German garrison. The German prisoners were sent to Japan, with around 1,000 placed in the Bando POW camp in part of present-day Naruto.

Toyohisa Matsue (1872–1956), the director of the camp, treated the prisoners respectfully as brave men who had served their country. He created a free atmosphere for them and treated them humanely. The locals, too, had a long tradition of hospitality and came to accept the Germans and enjoy friendly interactions with them.

Wishing to reciprocate, the Germans taught the local Japanese how to make bread, bake cakes, grow tomatoes and other vegetables, raise livestock and even how to play sports such as soccer.

In any age, having an open heart and mind is the most essential qualification for a world citizen. Real global citizenship starts with recognizing the dignity and worth of all people and fostering the spirit to expand ties of friendship.


  1. Confucius, The Analects, translated by D. C. Lau (London: Penguin Books, 1979), p. 63
  2. Named after the famous whirlpools found in the Naruto Strait off the northeast coast of Tokushima Prefecture.
  3. Naruto is a port city located some 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Tokushima City.

Read more