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Ikeda Sensei

The Proud Mission of the SGI 

Photo by Yvonne Ng.

This essay by Ikeda Sensei was published in the Jan. 26, 2023, issue of the Soka Gakkai’s daily newspaper, Seikyo Shimbun. 

My mentor, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda, placed deep trust in our pioneering members of Tohoku,[1] centering around Sendai Chapter. He regarded them as a model for the entire country and did everything he could to help them advance kosen-rufu in that region.

In the frigid month of February 1955, he participated in an interview for a Tohoku Broadcasting radio program. When asked about the Soka Gakkai’s history, he affably explained that the organization traced its beginnings to 1928[2] —the year that he and his mentor, founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, began practicing Nichiren Buddhism.

I alone accompanied him to the interview’s recording, and after it was over, he said to me with a smile: “Daisaku, you were born in 1928, weren’t you? What a remarkable karmic connection.” 

I joined the great struggle launched by Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda—which marks 95 years this year—uniting with fellow members to open, through the power of the people, the great path to realizing kosen-rufu and the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land.” Today, the Soka castle of capable people of which my mentor spoke in Tohoku has grown magnificently on a global scale. 

On Jan. 21, in a ceremony brimming with joy and fresh determination, a new peace and culture center[3] was officially opened on Guam, the island where the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) was born. It is located next to the Guam International Trade Center, a gleaming white building that brings back many memories. It was at the world peace conference held there on Jan. 26, 1975, that the SGI was founded.

I can still vividly picture the faces of those unforgettable members from Guam and other parts of the United States who, on that landmark day, joined me in welcoming noble pioneers of our movement from 51 countries and territories. They all worked extremely hard behind the scenes to prepare and ensure the event’s success. 

At that time, aspiring to spread Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhist philosophy of peace and humane values more widely to people around the world, I resolved to place even greater emphasis on treasuring one-to-one interaction—the smallest unit of social interaction. I also felt that it was vital for us to expand our circles of friendship and positive social contribution, starting from our local community, the place of mission closest to us. 

Though I arrived on Guam with a sore throat after a long trip across the United States in the depths of winter, I along with my wife wholeheartedly encouraged the local Guam members and representatives who had gathered from across the world.  

I also composed and presented a number of poems. 

To the men’s division member who proudly declared the meeting open, I wrote: 

Under the boundless sky
in this land of azure waters
and ever bright light,
you take the lead for kosen-rufu—
May all happiness be yours!

And to the young women working behind the scenes with cheerful confidence as event staff, I sent this poem:

To each of you,
inspiring young women 
with beautiful hearts,
I present 
a lei of happiness. 

For the starting point of the SGI, we chose Guam, a place where fierce fighting during World War II had inflicted so much suffering. We then embarked on forging connections by warmly encouraging each person in front of us and sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law in their heart. 

As symbolized by the celebrations marking the opening of the new Guam center, youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth, human flowers, are dancing vibrantly and creating beautiful gardens abloom with trust and good fortune in our beloved Guam, Saipan and other Pacific Islands. Nothing makes me happier than to see our members showing such wonderful actual proof.

On reflection, it was also on an island—during his exile on Sado—that Nichiren Daishonin recorded his future vision of the westward transmission of Buddhism and worldwide kosen-rufu.[4]

At that time, people throughout Japan lived in fear of invasion by the Mongol forces, internal strife, famine and epidemics. And Nichiren himself wrote of his circumstances, “The chances are one in ten thousand that I will survive” (“On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 402). Nevertheless, from Sado, a remote island surrounded by rough seas, he powerfully sent forth the brilliant, world-illuminating light of the Buddhism of the Sun to guide all people to enlightenment. 

Following his lead, we have opened new routes to kosen-rufu and peace from such islands as Okinawa, Hawaii and Hong Kong. 

I am praying each day for the peace and prosperity and the brilliant triumph of our Soka family on Guam and all our dedicated members in island communities everywhere.

The year of the SGI’s founding, 1975, also marked the 30th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II. It was at the height of the Cold War, with division and conflict intensifying, driven by the logic of power and self-interest.

To overcome the crises facing humanity, we launched into action to apply the wisdom of Nichiren Buddhism and create new value in the areas of peace, culture and education. 

Nichiren Daishonin asserts that all wisdom that actually “brings an end to the people’s misery” and “helps the people,” whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, ultimately resonates with the wisdom of Buddhism (see “The Kalpa of Decrease,” WND-1, 1120–22). He further says, “A person of wisdom is not one who practices Buddhism apart from worldly affairs but, rather, one who thoroughly understands the principles by which the world is governed” (WND-1, 1121).

This means that our challenge is both to undertake the religious mission of spreading the Mystic Law and, at the same time, to shoulder the human and social mission of world peace. Toward that end, the SGI, as an independent people’s organization based on the Middle Way and the humanistic principles of Buddhism, continues to build bridges of solidarity among people around the world in diverse spheres, transcending national, political, ideological and religious differences. 

After Guam, I traveled to China [in April], Europe [in May], the Soviet Union [in May] and the United States again [in July], exerting myself to the fullest. I engaged in dialogues with leaders and thinkers in various fields, intent on never missing a single opportunity to sow the seeds of peace.

One of the culminating events of that year was my visit to Hiroshima in November. There, I laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims. I also attended a Soka Gakkai Headquarters general meeting in Hiroshima, where the members and I vowed to work together with unwavering commitment for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In addition, I proposed that all countries possessing nuclear weapons make a declaration pledging never to use such weapons preemptively. I also suggested that an international peace conference for nuclear weapons abolition be held in Hiroshima. 

In my statement issued at the beginning of this year, I called for a speedy end to the conflict in Ukraine, and also stressed the pressing need to establish the principle of No First Use of nuclear weapons.[5]

The date of this statement, Jan. 11, coincided with the 78th anniversary of my eldest brother’s death. He was drafted into the army during World War II and killed on the battlefield at the age of 29 [in 1945]. I loved and admired my brother very much. I remember how, on a brief furlough home, he told me that there is nothing glorious about war. 

Nothing is more barbarous than war, nothing is more cruel. We must not allow our young people and children to be sacrificed to the evil of war, and we must not cause the world’s mothers to grieve. This must be our heartfelt cry as long as we have life in our bodies.

I recall the heartrending firsthand experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima related to me by a women’s division member who now lives in Kansai. 

She was 16 when the bomb was dropped. Though miraculously unharmed by the blast, she and her mother later ate tomatoes that had been tainted by the “black rain” of radioactive ash that fell after the bombing. This caused them both terrible pain and suffering. Her mother died two years later. 

I listened quietly as she drew forth each word of her story with great force of effort.

She said that for many years after the war’s end, she was unable to speak of her harrowing experiences. But when she learned of Mr. Toda’s impassioned Declaration for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons [in 1957], she decided to come forward and share her testimony. Determined that no one in the future should ever have to go through what she did, she has continued to tell others about the barbarity of nuclear weapons, calling them weapons of evil that consign human beings to the most horrific, inhumane deaths.

The Soka Gakkai’s movement for peace is supported by each of our members’ prayers and actions based on their deeply rooted belief in the dignity and preciousness of life.

I have made many other proposals over the years, such as my call for an immediate end to the Vietnam War, the restoration of Okinawa to Japan and the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. Each is a lion’s roar of oneness of mentor and disciple with Presidents Makiguchi and Toda and of shared commitment with all my fellow members, united in the spirit of many in body, one in mind.

It was in 1983 that I began issuing annual peace proposals on Jan. 26, SGI Day. 

At that time, the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union had reached a fever pitch. There was a heightened anxiety that the world was at a crucial crossroads between peace and ever escalating international tensions. As a response to this situation, I issued “New Proposals for Peace and Disarmament” [the first SGI Day peace proposal].

Voicing my belief that we cannot create a vision for the future from despair and resignation, I proposed as a first step forward a meeting between top U.S. and Soviet leaders at the earliest possible moment. Two years later [in 1985], Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet general secretary and held a meeting with U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Their direct talks triggered changes that eventually led to the two nations concluding a treaty eliminating all land-based intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF). I was very moved to see this.  

In his treatise “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land,” Nichiren, as the host, urges: “Let us discuss the question at length” (WND-1, 7). Embodying that spirit, Mr. Makiguchi, Mr. Toda and I—the first three Soka Gakkai presidents—and all members united with us have consistently followed and advocated the path of dialogue. 

When we talk together as fellow human beings—focusing on life and the human condition defined by the sufferings of birth, aging, sickness and death—we will not fail to find common ground and understand one another. 

Two months after my 1983 peace proposal, I visited the Okinawa Training Center, a former U.S. Mace B missile site. There I proposed that instead of removing the missile launch pads still on the grounds, we preserve them and turn the center into a launch pad for peace. 

When Dr. Jim Garrison, former president of the John Dewey Society in the United States, recently visited the Okinawa Training Center [in November 2022], he called it an example of the Buddhist principle of changing poison into medicine. He also said that just as the lotus flower blooms in muddy water, the Soka Gakkai is a beacon of hope shining in dark times.[6]

I have issued a total of 40 peace proposals on Jan. 26 [starting from 1983 and continuing to 2022]. Many of the ideas I have suggested have been adopted in one form or another by the United Nations and other international organizations. They include the designation of a decade of education to promote sustainable development, the drafting of a world citizens’ charter, the adoption and ratification of a protocol on banning the use of child soldiers and the creation of a global fund to eradicate poverty. 

Especially noteworthy is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) [which was adopted by the U.N. in 2017], a major step toward realizing my mentor’s ardent wish. I am profoundly grateful for the efforts of our members around the world who, sharing my commitment, are spreading the spirit of peace in endless ripples throughout their communities and societies. 

Whatever challenges humanity may face, we have the inner resources to overcome them. As British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975) highlighted in his view of human history as a process of challenge and response, the wisdom we can bring forth for creating value is limitless. 

The spirit of our dialogues aimed toward realizing the ideal of “establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land” is to believe in, speak to, draw forth and rally the inherent power of the people as characterized by such qualities as fortitude, courage, friendship, solidarity, wisdom and tenacity. 

Nichiren Daishonin writes: “But still I am not discouraged. The Lotus Sutra is like the seed, the Buddha like the sower, and the people like the field” (“The Essentials for Attaining Buddhahood,” WND-1, 748).  

Our voices as we chant and talk to others with courage, sincerity and perseverance become the seeds of hope—seeds that produce flowers and fruit in unending abundance to create luxuriant fields of peace the world over. 

Let us continue striving in the chosen places of our mission with our fellow SGI members around the globe, who continue to emerge from the earth in ever-growing numbers. Today and again tomorrow, with the resolve “Still I am not discouraged!” let us proudly sow the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law! 

Feb. 10, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 10–11


  1. Tohoku is a region in northeastern Japan comprising Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures. ↩︎
  2. The official date of the Soka Gakkai’s founding is Nov. 18, 1930, the publication date of founding president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy). ↩︎
  3. The SGI Guam Ikeda Peace and Culture Center. ↩︎
  4. See “On the Buddha’s Prophecy,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, pp. 398–402. ↩︎
  5. See Daisaku Ikeda, “Statement on the Ukraine Crisis and No First Use of Nuclear Weapons,”> (accessed on Feb. 1, 2023). ↩︎
  6. Translated from Japanese. From an article in the Nov. 21, 2022, Seikyo Shimbun. ↩︎

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