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Ikeda Sensei and the Youth of America

SGI-USA youth division representatives at the 31st Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting of the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu. (February 4, 2017). Photo by Seikyo Press.

Of all Ikeda Sensei’s profound contributions to humanity, he is unrivaled in his boundless trust of and belief in youth, a point embodied in his decadeslong efforts to foster countless youthful protagonists who can move society in the direction of peace.

In Discussions on Youth, he says to young people: “Even if you think you’re hopeless and incapable, I know you’re not. I have not the slightest doubt that each of you has a mission. Though others may disparage you, please know that I respect you, I believe in you. No matter what circumstances you now face, I have absolute confidence that a wonderful future awaits you” (p. 27).

In the following section, the World Tribune highlights key milestones between Sensei and the youth of America. With the exception of the first, they are focused on the 21st century, the time in which Sensei put the finishing touches on the foundation for worldwide kosen-rufu.

June 20, 1981: Sensei Pens ‘To My Beloved Young American Friends’

With his poem “To My Beloved Young American Friends—Youthful Bodhisattvas of the Earth,” Sensei stressed that “youth who upheld the Mystic Law in America had a mission to revitalize the United States, their beloved homeland and the entire world.”[1] Understanding the diversity of the country and its deeply rooted issues, Sensei called on the youth of America to steadily build a new age, one step after another, starting with one’s own self-mastery.

Sept. 5, 2001: SGI-USA Youth Division Flag Presented to Sensei

The second series of Seven Bells had just begun.[2] On Sept. 5, 2001, 41 SGI-USA youth representatives attended a headquarters leaders meeting held in Tokyo. There, Sensei called for fostering global citizens, saying in part, “We must extend the network of global citizens who possess both a positive philosophy and true capability, and who are dedicated to joining hands with all people on this planet and advancing with them.”[3] With a vow to fight alongside Sensei, the representatives presented the SGI-USA Youth Division Flag.

As the representatives flew home, their plane was diverted to Canada due to the Sept. 11 attacks. Sensei named them the “Ever-Victorious Group.”

Led by youth, the SGI-USA ignited the spirit of shakubuku as the means to transform the land. Two years later, Sensei established Sept. 5 as SGI-USA Youth Day—a day on which youth renew their vow to advance kosen-rufu, with and for their mentor.

Photo by Brent Clark.

Sept. 22, 2010: Ikeda Youth Ensemble Named

In response to the emergence of the thousands of youth who performed at the Rock the Era Youth Culture Festivals in July 2010, Sensei named the SGI-USA youth performing groups the Ikeda Youth Ensemble.

In the Soka Gakkai’s early days, Sensei fostered the Music Corps, Fife and Drum Corps and Chorus Groups as a means to help youth deepen their faith and grow. He personally purchased and donated instruments for the youth to play, giving them a mission to use music to break through the walls that divide people.

Sensei called out to SGI youth performers throughout the world: “Members of the Music Corps, Fife and Drum Corps and Chorus Groups: You are acclaimed! You are superb! Your inspiring performances lift the spirits of all who hear them.”[4]

May 29, 2011: Five Guidelines for SGI-USA Youth Division Presented

Sensei presented the SGI-USA youth division with five guidelines, which were introduced at the SGI-USA Youth Leaders Meeting held on May 29, 2011, at the World Culture Center in Santa Monica, California, with SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda in attendance. They are:

1) Be the youth of America who eternally inherit the Gakkai spirit of the oneness of mentor and disciple!
2) Be the youth of America who create an exemplary youthful Soka Gakkai with the unity of many in body, one in mind!
3) Be the youth of America who illuminate the darkness of the age as champions of propagation!
4) Be the youth of America who courageously refute the erroneous and reveal the true based on the writings of Nichiren Daishonin!
5) Be the youth of America who build an ideal society of peace in the world as pioneers of the Mystic Law!

In a message to the meeting, Sensei wrote: “The way of the oneness of mentor and disciple in the realm of kosen-rufu is the ‘golden path’ that enables individuals to reach without fail the place of the treasure of happiness.

“I have been walking that path, while holding a dialogue every day in my heart with my mentor, Josei Toda. I am solely determined to advance on that golden path, always at one with all of you, my dearest SGI-USA youth members.”[5]

Photo by Henry Miyamoto.

Jan. 26, 2013: Ikeda Wisdom Academy Established

Youth representatives from the U.S. and Canada gathered for a study conference. A new SGI-USA youth study program was to be announced. There, they learned that Sensei had named the program the Ikeda Wisdom Academy. In his message, Sensei offered his heartfelt appreciation and declared: “North America has won. You have absolutely won!”

He continued: “Nichiren Daishonin wrote to the young Nanjo Tokimitsu, ‘My wish is that all my disciples make a great vow’ (“The Dragon Gate,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1003). This one statement constitutes the Daishonin’s eternal guideline for all youth throughout the 10,000 years of the Latter Day of the Law.

“As youth, you face all sorts of difficulties, and wrestle each day with worries and problems. Precisely for this reason, it is crucial that you stand up with a great vow and strive to achieve a fundamental goal. Once you decide what is fundamental, nothing that happens will sway you, and you can grow by leaps and bounds.”[6]

Photo by Victor Golden.

Nov. 3, 2013: 3,000 Youthful Successors Emerge

In 2013, the SGI-USA youth led an unprecedented effort to introduce 3,000 young people to the practice in a single year—a goal they achieved that Nov. 3. Upon hearing the news, Sensei responded: “That is incredible! Please give my best regards to the members of the SGI-USA!”[7] To solidify the foundation of faith in these new bodhisattvas, the members united to enable 3,000 youth to take the 2013 Introductory Exam that December.

Feb. 1, 2018: Lions of Justice Group Travels to Japan

Ahead of the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, an unprecedented 201 SGI-USA youth traveled to Japan for a training course. Sensei named them the Lions of Justice Group.

In a message, he reminded the youth of their unique mission for kosen-rufu, writing: “Stay strong no matter what hardship or challenge may arise in life, embracing every difficulty as laborious, yet necessary tasks along the path of achieving a great human revolution. Prevail over these adversities by chanting daimoku as fiercely as the lion’s roar, thereby defining the days of your youth by the success you yourself achieve. And in so doing, expand the bounds of a united network of peace and happiness together with your friends and fellow members, reaching skyward without constraint in high spirits.”[8]

Photo by Andrew DeMelo.

Feb. 2, 2019: Sensei Gifts Chihuly Sculpture to SGI-USA Youth

Celebrating the SGI-USA’s great achievement with the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival on Sept. 23, 2018, Sensei gifted a stunning eight-piece glass sculpture by famed artist Dale Chihuly to the youth of America, asking that it be displayed as a symbol of the “shared triumph of mentor and disciple.”[9] SGI-USA members can view the sculpture as an installation in the Successors Room of the Florida Nature and Culture Center’s Ikeda Hall.

January 2, 2024, World Tribune, pp. 38–39


  1. See The New Human Revolution, vol. 30, p. 424. ↩︎
  2. Seven Bells: Refers to the seven consecutive seven-year periods in the Soka Gakkai’s development. The second series started on May 3, 2001, and continues through 2050. ↩︎
  3. Oct. 12, 2001, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎
  4. May 21, 2010, World Tribune, p. 5. ↩︎
  5. June 10, 2011, World Tribune, p. 3. ↩︎
  6. Feb. 15, 2013, World Tribune, p. 2. ↩︎
  7. Nov. 15, 2013, World Tribune, p. 2. ↩︎
  8. March 2, 2018, World Tribune, p. 7. ↩︎
  9. Feb. 15, 2019, World Tribune, pp. 6–7. ↩︎

To the Fiftieth Person

Embarking Anew on Our Eternal Journey of Mentor and Disciple