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March 16, 1958—The Passing of the Baton

Photo by Debra Williams.

After years of struggle, he had achieved the impossible. Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda realized his lifetime goal of expanding the Soka Gakkai’s movement to 750,000 households in late 1957.

Alongside his monumental achievement, however, Mr. Toda’s health declined rapidly. In March 1958, sensing his life was coming to an end, Mr. Toda suggested to a young Daisaku Ikeda that they hold an event for the youth division on March 16: “Let’s conduct a ceremony that will serve as a trial run—a dress rehearsal—for kosen-rufu in preparation for the future” (Kosen-rufu: Our Mission, vol. 2, p. 21).

He tasked Daisaku with organ-
izing the event. The Japanese prime minister planned to attend but cancelled at the last minute due to political pressure. All that mattered to Mr. Toda, however, was to address his beloved youth.

On March 16, some 6,000 young people assembled at the foot of Mount Fuji. Mr. Toda, barely able to walk, was carried out on a handmade litter. There he mustered all his energy and declared to his disciples: “I’m counting on you—counting on you to accomplish kosen-rufu!” (The Human Revolution, p. 1895). At the event’s end, Mr. Toda fixed his gaze on Daisaku, calling out to him: “Let’s fight!”

On April 2, 1958, 17 days later, Mr. Toda’s life came to an end.

Ikeda Sensei later recalled of that intimate exchange: “This eternal battle cry of my mentor is the very heartbeat of my life. For me, every day is March 16, the day I begin my struggle anew for kosen-rufu” (March 9, 2007, World Tribune, p. 7).

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

March 15, 2024, World Tribune, p. 4

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