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Nov. 18: Soka Gakkai Founding Day

The sunrise illuminates the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu in Tokyo on Nov. 18, the anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding.
The sunrise illuminates the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu in Tokyo on Nov. 18, the anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding. Photo by Seikyo Press

Ninety-two years ago, on Nov. 18, 1930, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, first president of the Soka Gakkai, and his disciple, Josei Toda, published the first volume of The System of Value-Creating Education (Jpn Soka kyoikugaku taikei ). This date came to be known as the founding day of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai—the Society for Value-Creating Education.

Informed by the religious philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism, Mr. Makiguchi sought to reform the Japanese education system by centering on  the happiness of each student and fostering every child’s unique potential to develop truly fulfilling lives. The organization steadily grew over the next decade into a bold religious movement.

In July 1943, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were arrested and imprisoned as “thought criminals” for speaking out against the militarist authorities. Refusing to abandon his faith, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison of malnutrition on Nov. 18, 1944, 14 years to the day when the Soka Gakkai was founded. 

Mr. Toda, who became the second Soka Gakkai president in 1951, went on to build the Soka Gakkai as a thriving organization with more than 750,000 families in Japan before his passing.

He entrusted the mission to accomplish kosen-rufu to the youth and to his successor, Daisaku Ikeda, who was inaugurated as the third Soka Gakkai president in 1960.

SGI members celebrate Nov. 18 … by strengthening their determination and sense of responsibility to actualize the ideals championed by the three founding presidents.

Under his leadership, the Soka Gakkai expanded into a global movement. The Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was founded in 1975. 

SGI members celebrate Nov. 18, Soka Gakkai Founding Day, by strengthening their determination and sense of responsibility to actualize the ideals championed by the three founding presidents. Inheriting the legacy of creative contribution to the welfare of society and world peace, SGI members are committed to acting as protagonists of peace within their local communities, putting into practice the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism in their daily lives. 

—Adapted from sokaglobal.org

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