During WWII, the military government, which had been trying to control religion and thought with state sponsored Shintoism, began strictly monitoring other religions as a form of “thought crime.”
The Soka Gakkai, formerly Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, was also targeted.
However, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, our inaugural president, confronted this oppression. On July 6, 1943, while on a visit in Izu, Makiguchi was arrested for treason in violation of the Peace Preservation Act (1925), and the chairman of the association, Josei Toda, was arrested in Tokyo on the same day. Both were taken into custody and imprisoned. Neither Makiguchi nor Toda would yield, even under severe interrogation, instead they maintained their faith as their ordeal in prison continued, and fourteen years after the foundation of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, on November 18, 1944, Makiguchi succumbed to his advancing infirmity and severe malnutrition in the prison infirmary. He was 73 years old.
After having been confined to prison for more than two years, Toda alone continued the work of Makiguchi and rebuilt the Soka Kyouiku Gakkai, renaming it Soka Gakkai. After being appointed the second president of the association, he oversaw its rapid development.
The Anti-Nuclear Declaration was made on September 8, 1957 and was to become the crux of the Soka Gakkai Peace Movement. As the East-West Cold War intensified, he advocated a philosophy of global citizenship, arguing that “everyone should be conscious that they are citizens of the world” in his continuous cry for world peace. He passed away on April 2, 1958 at the age of 58.
“Although a movement calling for a ban on the testing of atomic or nuclear weapons has arisen around the world, it is my wish to go further, to attack the problem at its root.”
“…we, the citizens of the world, have an inviolable right to live.”
“Anyone who jeopardizes that right is a devil incarnate, a fiend, a monster.”
“I believe that it is the mission of every member of the youth division in Japan to disseminate this idea throughout the globe.”
(Extract from the Anti-Nuclear Declaration)
“Nothing is as cruel as war. There is no greater misery than war” (Excerpt from the novel The Human Revolution.)
Daisaku Ikeda, inaugurated as the third president of Soka Gakkai and successor to president Toda, wrote these words in his novel, The Human Revolution.
Ikeda initiates dialogue to broaden friendships by speaking to people from all around the world, regardless of nationality or race. Starting with the 1972 dialogue with the great historian, Dr. Toynbee, full-scale dialogues are now developed with leaders, scholars, and cultural figures around the world. Conversations include talks with leaders such as the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union on World Peace and the Solidarity of Friendship beyond Borders and Races.
In addition, January 26, 1983 was announced as commemorative SGI day, and every year a special gathering is held for the United Nations Environment Programme as well as the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in the hope of making concrete proposals toward the future of the earth and world peace.
The SOKA Youth, compelled by the third president’s spirit of peace, have launched various campaigns for peace such as antiwar publications, peace exhibitions, various lectures, and signature collecting campaigns. The student peace awareness survey is also diligently conducted by the Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Okinawa youth peace liaison committee and the student department. In recent years, as a part of the SOKA Global Action, various collaborative national and international campaigns for peace are under way.
The Peace Festival in Hiroshima began in 1975 and is held every ten years as a milestone to continue the third president’s struggle for peace. In July 2015, seventy years after being bombed, the Second World Youth Peace Music Festival was held, and in August, the International Youth Summit for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, proposed by SGI President Ikeda, was also held in Hiroshima. Through grass roots level dialogue, our quest is to realize world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons, and to banish misery and sorrow, working towards the solidarity of peace throughout the country and throughout the whole world.