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Our History

July 11, 1951—the Founding of the Young Men’s Division

The following episode highlights the inaugural meeting of the Soka Gakkai’s young men’s division, which was founded by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda on July 11, 1951. The text was adapted from Ikeda Sensei’s novel The Human Revolution, pp. 588–94, in which he appears as Shin’ichi Yamamoto. 

That day was rainy. A few minutes before 6 o’clock in the evening, a capacity crowd of about 180 young men packed the second floor of the Soka Gakkai Headquarters building in Nishi-Kanda, Tokyo. The room was stuffy with the sultriness of the rainy season and the damp clothes of the attendants. But the hall still managed to overflow with vitality.

Many of the youths present, still in work clothes, had hurried straight from their jobs. A few of them had dressed their hair with pomade. There were no fine shoes to be seen in the shoe racks. Ragged umbrellas lay strewn in disorder.

No sound, not even a cough, could be heard. Suddenly, the violent sound of the rain thundered heavily overhead. It was now a downpour. The historic inaugural ceremony of the young men’s division was held on a day of torrential rain.

Silence fell upon the audience, anxious eyes were fixed on Josei Toda. Finally, he stepped toward the lectern. Thunderous applause welcomed him, as everyone awaited his words. But Toda began to speak casually about something quite different from their expectations.

“The next president of the Soka Gakkai will without a doubt appear from among those present here today. I believe he is here. I wish to express my heartfelt congratulations to him.”

Toda glanced at Shin’ichi Yamamoto in the center of the hall but instantly diverted his eyes.

“Kosen-rufu is the mission that I must achieve without fail. I would like you to be aware that all youth division members have a praiseworthy mission. The Meiji Restoration was promoted by youth, and back in the days of Nichiren Daishonin, his most active disciples were all young. In the annals of history, young people have always held sway over the times and created each new era. My only hope is that you will accomplish this noble mission by yourselves. Our goal is not limited only to Japan. The Daishonin stated that we should spread the correct teachings of Buddhism to Korea, China, India and far beyond to every corner of the world. The Daishonin’s Buddhism of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the great Law that penetrates and moves the entire universe.

“Today, I have hailed from this rostrum the person who is to succeed to the presidency, and I congratulate you with all my heart on the formation of the corps of the young men’s division.”

So saying, Toda bowed deeply. The 180 young men did not hear the commands that they expected, but they realized something far greater in his short address—his vision, their future course and their mission.

We Bring the Change

Olympic National Park, Washington