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July 3: The Proud Day of Lions

Justice—The Central Public Hall in Nakanoshima, Osaka, Japan where the Osaka Rally was held on July 17, 1957. Photo by Seikyo Press.

In the summer of 1957, the 29-year-old Ikeda Sensei stood up to the Yubari Coal Miners’ Association and the Osaka City Prosecutors Office. These entities felt their authority threatened by the people’s movement of the Soka Gakkai and took steps to make members abandon their faith and dismantle the organization. Recalling these events, Sensei wrote:

We must fight to change the times, to usher in an age in which treacherous individuals cannot arrogantly savor triumph. We must make it an age in which people, the true heroes, can joyfully sing a brilliant paean of victory, of happy, fulfilled lives. To do that, we must fear nothing, falter at nothing, persevere with patience and fight with determination. (June 30, 1999, Seikyo Shimbun)

On July 3, 1957, at 7 p.m., Sensei was detained in Osaka, 12 years to the day and hour that second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda was released from prison. Sensei was determined to take the full brunt of force by the authorities to protect the Soka Gakkai members and Mr. Toda. This month, we honor the 65th anniversary of these events, and July 3, the Day of Mentor and Disciple.

This essay was originally published in the July 3, 1999, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun.

Buddhism exists to achieve humanity’s most ambitious goals. Faith exists to elevate and direct incomplete lives toward complete fulfillment that is free of all regret.

To achieve these goals, we must fight long and hard for the sake of kosen-rufu. We can never retreat even a single step in our work to transform the tragic destiny of humanity.

The bright, shining July 3, breaking through the darkness of the age! On that day in 1945, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda was released from the prison in which he had been held by Japan’s wartime military authorities. It was the day he rose up alone and began his struggle for kosen-rufu. On July 3, 1957, 12 years later, I, his disciple, proudly followed in his footsteps, imprisoned for a crime I did not commit—a persecution encountered because of my efforts to spread the Mystic Law.

I was in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido when the summons for me to appear in Osaka for police questioning came. Flying from Hokkaido’s Chitose Airport, I had to make a stopover in Tokyo and change planes to fly on to Osaka. When I arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Mr. Toda was there to greet me in one of the airport waiting rooms.

Weak and frail as he was at the time, he had come all the way to the airport to see me before I headed for questioning at the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters. His experience in prison during the war had made him completely familiar with the conditions I might face, and he was worried about how I would fare there with my poor health. He gripped my shoulder powerfully. “You must not die,” he said. “Daisaku, should death overtake you, I would rush to your side and throw myself upon you, and die together with you.”

Feeling this deep love of my noble mentor, my heart was filled with uncontrollable emotion.

• • •

That evening, I appeared at the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters with the firmest determination to clarify the truth and dispel all falsehoods. At 7 p.m., I was arrested and imprisoned. It was clear that this had been the police’s plan from the start.

My imprisonment took place at nearly the same time on the same date as Mr. Toda’s release from jail 12 years earlier. How mysterious are the workings of the Mystic Law! At this thought all my sadness and worry fell away from me and were transformed into joy. I was only 29 at the time.

The charges against me were completely false. The police alleged that, since I was in charge of the campaign for the Soka Gakkai-sponsored candidate in the April upper house by-election in the Osaka electoral district, I had instructed Soka Gakkai members to purchase votes and commit other election-law violations. I felt very bad for those members who, out of their personal enthusiasm, had done door-to-door vote soliciting and been arrested for it, but I had not been in any way involved in these attempts to purchase votes.

The newspapers splashed headlines such as “The Arrest of Public Relations Chief Ikeda” across their front pages and wrote articles claiming that I was arrested “on suspicion of playing an important role in the election-law violations that characterize the Soka Gakkai’s ‘blitz tactics.’” The mass media of the day acted as a mouthpiece for the authorities, and they created an image of the Soka Gakkai as an antisocial organization that had engaged in election-law violations in a premeditated, organized fashion.

• • •

While I was in prison, my friends in the Kansai region bore an especially heavy burden of concern for my welfare. I have heard of members who remained standing in the hot sun all day hoping to catch sight of me, even if only briefly. I feel incredibly grateful for their support.

The police had fabricated the charges against me by threatening the Soka Gakkai members they had arrested and extracting false confessions from them stating that I had directed their illegal activities.

My questioning by the police and prosecutors was extremely harsh. One day I was grilled far into the night, without an evening meal. On another occasion, they led me outdoors in handcuffs, as if to publicly humiliate me.

While in prison, I read Nichiren Daishonin’s writings. I read other books too. Victor Hugo urged me to fight, to remain undefeated, rousing in me the courage I needed to face my persecution.

Hugo had lived in exile for 19 years. Jawaharlal Nehru of India, too, was imprisoned nine times, spending a total of some nine years of his life behind bars. And what of those who had suffered harsh persecution for the sake of the Mystic Law? I told myself: Think of the Daishonin! Think of Mr. Makiguchi! Think of Mr. Toda! I was determined not to give in. I had pride in being a Soka Gakkai member.

• • •

Finally, the prosecutors told me that unless I pleaded guilty they would raid the Soka Gakkai Headquarters and arrest Mr. Toda. This was nothing short of a threat. I wasn’t worried about myself. I could face whatever persecution they dealt out. But Mr. Toda’s health was very fragile, and imprisonment could easily spell his death. Thus commenced my true agony. It was beyond comprehension to me that I should confess to a crime that I did not commit, yet at the same time I could in no way permit a situation where my mentor would be arrested on false charges and imprisoned, and possibly end up dying in prison.

I passed a sleepless night, reflecting on this firsthand experience of the insidious and fearful workings of the devilish nature of authority. Then I came to a decision. I would admit, provisionally, guilt of the offenses, but during the trial I would prove my innocence and reveal the truth for all the world to clearly see.

From that day my struggle for human rights, my story of the eventual triumph of truth and justice despite overwhelming odds, began.

• • •

On July 12, Mr. Toda held a rally in Tokyo during which he called for my immediate release. He also visited the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters to speak out against the authorities’ actions, though he was painfully frail and unsteady on his legs and had to grip the handrails to pull himself up the stairs to do so. When I heard about his visit later, I wept tears of gratitude.

Kosen-rufu is an intense struggle against the devilish nature of authority. It is not a melodrama ruled by the laws of ephemeral, cheap sentiment. In the midst of his own persecution, Nichiren Daishonin wrote, “I have been certain from the beginning that this would occur” (“Letter from Echi,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 17). I am the disciple of my mentor, Josei Toda. From the beginning I have known that I must be prepared to die for the sake of our revolution. Kosen-rufu is a sacred endeavor that can be accomplished only by the heroes of the SGI, who are not afraid to give their lives for the Law should the need arise.

Youth, rise up as lions for the cause of the people’s triumph! Work for your friends and comrades! Fear nothing! Come forth, my disciples, in the tens and hundreds of thousands!

Inevitably, times change. There are times when a profusion of flowers bloom. There are times, too, of madness, when demons try to put an end to truth and justice. But may you, my youthful disciples, treasures of the SGI linked in the oneness of mentor and disciple, build a golden road! Please set forth and take that first step on the path of ultimate good!

Timeline of Events Surrounding July 3, 1957


June 6: Yubari, Hokkaido Soka Gakkai young men march in protest of the Coal Miners’ Association discrimination against Soka Gakkai members.

June 17–19:The association creates a three-point plan to dismantle the Soka Gakkai: 1) forming an anti-Soka Gakkai committee; 2) strengthening propaganda; and 3) solidifying the committee’s structure. (see The Human Revolution, p. 1593)

June 27:The committee dispatches people throughout Hokkaido to organize their efforts to ostracize Soka Gakkai members.

June 28: Ikeda Sensei arrives in Yubari to support the members fighting for their rights.

July 1–2: Under Sensei’s lead, Soka Gakkai rallies are held in Sapporo and Yubari to stand up to the authorities who had been bullying the members.

July 3: Sensei flies from Hokkaido to Osaka with a layover in Tokyo. During his layover, Sensei is met by several members including Mr. Toda. At that time, Mr. Toda says to him, “If, just if, you should find yourself facing death, I would come to you instantly and throw myself upon you to shield you from harm as we die together.” (The Human Revolution, pp. 1618–19)

July 3: Sensei arrives in Osaka and is arrested at 7 p.m. on false charges of violating election law.

July 8: Sensei is transferred from the Osaka Prefectural Police Headquarters to the Osaka Detention Center and harshly interrogated by two prosecutors late into the night.

July 12: President Toda leads a rally of some 20,000 members in Tokyo to demand the immediate release of the young Daisaku Ikeda.

July 17: Sensei is released from the Osaka Detention Center at 12 p.m.

July 17: The Osaka Rally is held following Sensei’s release. At this gathering, Sensei declared in part, “Let us undertake this task with the conviction that the Mystic Law and those who strive tenaciously in faith, steadfastly upholding the Gohonzon, will definitely emerge victorious!” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 5, revised edition, p. 290)

October 8: The trial begins.


December 16, 1961: Sensei makes his final appeal to the court, imploring to the judge for justice to prevail.


January 25, 1962: On the 84th and final session of the trial, Sensei is found not guilty. Reflecting on the trial, he said:

“It is inevitable that corrupt authority will join hands with forces hostile to the Soka Gakkai and employ any means they can to try to alienate the public from us and drive a wedge between me and the members in any attempt to destroy our movement. …

“Such oppression, when it arises, comes from all sides, with relentless, concentrated force. But I fear nothing. …

“I will fight an uncompromising battle against the insidious workings of power. I share the Daishonin’s conviction when he said, ‘Still I am not discouraged’ (“The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 748). We are waging a struggle for human rights—for the victory of the people and the triumph of humanity.” (NHR-5, 301–02)

Infusing My Work With the Buddha’s Life State

Knowing Our Worth