Daisaku Ikeda

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Not to be confused with Daisuke Ikeda.
Daisaku Ikeda
Daisaku Ikeda 1961.jpg
President of Soka Gakkai International
Assumed office
26 January 1975
Honorary President of Soka Gakkai
Assumed office
24 April 1979
3rd President of Soka Gakkai
In office
3 May 1960 – 23 April 1979
Preceded by Jōsei Toda
Succeeded by Hiroshi Hōjō (北条浩)
Personal details
Born (1928-01-02) 2 January 1928 (age 86)
Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
Spouse(s) Kaneko Ikeda (池田香峯子)
Children Hiromasa Ikeda (池田博正)
Takahiro Ikeda (池田尊弘)

Official Website

Alma mater Fuji Junior College (present-day Tokyo Fuji University)[1]

Daisaku Ikeda (池田 大作 Ikeda Daisaku?, born January 2, 1928, Japan) is the founder and current president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), the international offshoot of Soka Gakkai, a Nichiren Buddhist lay association which has, by its own account, more than 12 million members.[2] In 1996, he was described in a Los Angeles Times article as a "puzzle of conflicting perceptions", ranging from "Japan's most powerful man" and a "threat to democracy", to an "inspired teacher" and "man of deep learning".[3] Ikeda and Soka Gakkai have been the frequent targets of criticism for fostering a cult of personality centered around Ikeda.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]


Early life[edit]

Ikeda was born the fifth son of seaweed farmers in Ōta, Tokyo.[12] His four older brothers fought in World War II, during which the eldest, Kiichi, was killed in action[13] and his familyʼs home destroyed.[14] As a child, he suffered from poor health and tuberculosis and doctors predicted that he would not survive beyond the age of 30.[15]

Involvement with the Soka Gakkai[edit]

In August 1947, Ikeda met Jōsei Toda at a Soka Gakkai discussion meeting and joined the organization that month. In April 1948, Ikeda entered the night school of Taisei Gakuin[14] (later Tokyo Fuji University). He left it in the same year[citation needed] and spent the next few years shifting his employment between various Toda-owned enterprises.[14] Ikeda was a charter member of the Soka Gakkai's Youth Division and its leader by 1952.[16]:85[17]:77

In 1952, Ikeda was one of the leaders in violently harassing Nichiren Shoshu priest Jimon Ogasawara. Ogasawara had allegedly cooperated with the authorities during the war against Soka Gakkai's founder Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, who had died imprisoned, before the end of the war. Ikeda and Toda headed a group of 4,000 men belonging to the Youth Division to the Taiseki-ji, the Nichiren Shōshū head temple. When Ogasawara initially refused to apologize, the men tore off his vestments and tagged him with a placard reading "Racoon dog monk." He was then forcibly carried to Makiguchi's grave, where he was made to sign a written apology.[18][19]:698–711[20]:186 Ikeda later referred to the incident as an "act of kindness" because "the old priest, made to realize his apostasy, was grateful to Toda and Soka Gakkai and died a happy man."[18]

In July 3, 1957, Ikeda was arrested on unfounded charges of violating the election law and spent two weeks in jail in Osaka. The case went to court but dragged on for four and a half years. Ikeda, however, was finally exonerated of all charges in January 1962 after appearing in court for forty eight times. The prosecution did not appeal. Amongst other things, it emerged during the case that the prosecution had falsified the interrogation transcripts of arrested Soka Gakkai members.[21][22]

Ikeda regarded Toda as his spiritual mentor and writes that he influenced him through "the profound compassion that characterized each of his interactions".[23]

Presidency after Toda[edit]

After Toda's death in 1958, Ikeda succeeded his mentor to become the third President of Soka Gakkai in 1960, after which he began to travel abroad to realize Toda's vision of expanding the Sōka Gakkai movement.[citation needed]

While Soka Gakkai saw its most dramatic growth after the World War II under the leadership of Toda, Ikeda led the international growth of the organization and turned it into what has been called the largest, most diverse international lay Buddhist association in the world.[24] He reformed many of the organizations more controversial practices, such as the aggressive and sometimes forced conversions (shakubuku (折伏)) the group was infamous for in Japan and did much to improve the organization's public image, though it was still widely viewed with suspicion in Japan.[25][26][27][28][29]

By the 1970s Ikeda's leadership had expanded the Soka Gakkai into an international lay Buddhist movement increasingly active in peace, cultural and educational activities and shifting away from "a very rigid fundamentalistic and evangelical stance."[30] In 1975, at an international meeting of member representatives held in Guam, Sōka Gakkai formed Sōka Gakkai International (SGI) to support its overseas membership. Ikeda took a leading role in this development and, at the request of the membership, became President of SGI.[17]:128

Resignation from Soka Gakkai[edit]

In 1979, Ikeda resigned as the president of Sōka Gakkai, accepting responsibility for its purported deviation from Nichiren Shōshū doctrines, and the accompanying conflict with the priesthood,.[31] Nichiren Shōshū was the Buddhist denomination to whom which Sōka Gakkai had belonged since its founding, but the relationship between the two was often a strained one. Ikeda was succeeded by Hiroshi Hōjō, but remained president of the SGI and was also made Sōka Gakkai Honorary President.[32] He, along with Sōka Gakkai, was excommunicated by Nichiren Shōshū on August 11, 1992.[33][34] SGI members often describe their group as Buddhism's first Protestant movement, since its excommunication by Nichiren Shōshū in 1991.[35]

Under Ikeda's leadership SGI has developed as a broad-based grassroots peace movement around the world. He has fostered among SGI members a strong ethos of responsibility for the society with global citizenship spirit.[36]

Relationship with Noriega[edit]

From the mid-70's, President Ikeda fostered a close relationship with Manuel Noriega, before and during his period as military dictator of Panama. Noriega repeatedly visited the Taiseki-ji and Noriega hosted Ikeda on several visits to Panama, and after a 1981 visit, Noriega named a scenic observation point on one of the Causeway Islands at the Pacific approach to the Panama Canal "Mirador Ikeda".[37] The Soka Gakkai reciprocated by creating a "Noriega garden" (ノリエガ庭園) at one of its locales in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka.[38]:99–101 Both leaders praised each other's virtues in public statements.[39]:160

Friends of Noriega have alleged that Ikeda provided him with several million dollars' worth of assistance during the worst part of Noriega's crisis in 1987 and 1988, though Soka Gakkai spokesmen deny this.[40] An unnamed French investigation referenced to in Steven Kaplan's two-volume study Farewell, Revolution supposedly revealed that Ikeda visited Noriega shortly before his capture and abandoned a safe containing a million dollars in strange circumstances.[41]


Ikeda is a prolific writer, peace activist and interpreter of Nichiren Buddhism.[citation needed] His interests include photography, art, philosophy, and music. He has signed the Earth Charter. He has traveled to more than 50 countries to hold discussions with political, cultural, and educational figures, as well as to teach, support, and encourage SGI practitioners.

Topics he has addressed include the transformative value of religion, the universal sanctity of life,[42] social responsibility, and sustainable progress and development.

As head of SGI, Ikeda has founded several institutions, such as the Sōka University, Sōka schools, the International Committee of Artists for Peace,[n 1] the Min-On Concert Association,[n 2] the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum (TFAM),[n 3] the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP),[n 4] and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research.[n 5]

In addition, he has guided Sōka Gakkai's support of, and involvement in, the New Komeito Party (Kōmeitō), a Japanese political party which, as of 2007, is part of a coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party. Ikeda has also initiated a wide range of grassroots exchange programs,[43][44][45] and delivered speeches at a number of institutions of higher learning around the world, including Harvard University, the Institut de France, Beijing University, and Moscow State University. The Gandhi, King, Ikeda exhibition showcases the peace activism of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Ikeda.[46] Another exhibition is Dialogue with Nature showcasing Ikeda's photographs.[47][48] He has also sponsored a documentary film about the environment, A Quiet Revolution.

Lawrence Carter, an ordained Baptist minister[citation needed] [49] and the dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, has worked with the SGI-USA and Daisaku Ikeda for many years. Morehouse gave an honorary doctorate to Ikeda, and Carter also initiated the annual "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" award as a way of extolling those whose actions for peace have cut across human boundaries. When a Shūkan Shinchō article criticized these aspects of the award, Carter wrote a protest to the magazine:

"Controversy" is an inevitable partner of greatness. No one who challenges the established order is free of it. Gandhi had his detractors, as did Dr. King. Dr. Ikeda is no exception. Controversy camouflages the intense resistance of entrenched authority to conceding their special status and privilege. "Insults" are the weapons of the morally weak; "slander" is the tool of the spiritually bereft. Controversy is testament to the noble work of these three individuals in their respective societies.[50]

The houses of representatives in Georgia, [51] Missouri,[52] and Illinois [53][54][55] recognize the service and dedication of Daisaku Ikeda "who has dedicated his entire life to building peace and promoting human rights through education and cultural exchange with deep conviction in the shared humanity of our entire global family" [55] in which he "values education and culture as the prerequisites for the creation of true peace in which the dignity and fundamental rights of all people are respected." [52]

Toynbee himself stated in the book's preface (in the third person), "[On arranging the meetings, translations, and publications] Arnold Toynbee is very grateful to Daisaku Ikeda for having it upon his younger shoulders.".[56][n 6] He also expressed his "agree[ment] with Soka Gakkai on religion as the most important thing in human life, and on opposition to militarism and war." [57] The book has been translated and published in twenty languages.[58]

Ikeda's many children's books have been animated into anime.[59] [60]

He is an honorary member of the Club of Rome.[61]

Honorary doctorates and professorships[edit]

Ikeda received his 300th degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston on November 21, 2010.[62] He has said that "The academic honors I have accepted have all been on behalf of the members of SGI around the world."[63][64] from UMass Boston at Special Ceremony in Japan]", University of Massachusetts Boston, 23 November 2010. Accessed 2 January 2010. His pursuit to promote peace through humanism over the past 60 years has been recognised worldwide, for which he has received over 340 academic honours.[63]

Other awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Ikeda lives in Tokyo with his wife, Kaneko (born 1932), whom he married on May 3, 1952. He has three sons, Hiromasa (born 1953; Vice-president of Sōka Gakkai),[91] Shirohisa (1955–1984), and Takahiro (born 1958).

Critical commentary[edit]

Ikeda has often been the subject of controversy. British journalist and political commentator Polly Toynbee was invited to meet Ikeda in 1984, as Ikeda "was hoping to tighten the public connection between himself and Polly Toynbee's famous grandfather, Arnold Toynbee, the prophet of the rise of the East."[92] She described him as "a short, round man with slicked down hair, wearing a sharp Western suit"; they talked from "throne-like" chairs in "an enormous room" reached via "corridors of bowing girls dressed in white".[93] Toynbee wrote "I have met many powerful men--prime ministers, leaders of all kinds--but I have never in my life met anyone who exudes such an aura of absolute power as Mr. Ikeda."[94][95] In the article, first published in the The Guardian on May 19, 1984, she also voiced the wish that her grandfather, Arnold J. Toynbee, would not have endorsed their dialogue, Choose Life, remarking that her grandfather at the time had been "so old" and "was a frail man."[95][96]

In 1990 Frederick Kempe reported allegations that Ikeda had provided financial assistance to Manuel Noriega in 1987 and 1988. Sōka Gakkai spokesmen denied this and also that Noriega had officially become a member of SGI.[40]

A 1995 San Francisco Chronicle article titled "Japan Fears Another Religious Sect" outlined charges in Japan of "heavy-handed fund raising and proselytizing [by Sōka Gakkai], as well as intimidating its foes and trying to grab political power".[97] It quotes Takashi Shokei, a professor at Meisei University, as describing Ikeda as "a power-hungry individual who intends to take control of the government and make Soka Gakkai the national religion"; the article describes a videotape made in 1993 of Ikeda "yelling and pounding on tables in anger and later railing against President Clinton for having refused to meet with him".[97]

A 1995 Time article criticized Daisaku Ikeda and Sōka Gakkai, claiming that "according to a member who was present" Ikeda, as "honorary president and unquestioned commander" of Sōka Gakkai, had said of Kōmeitō: "This time, not the next time, [the election] is going to be about winning or losing. We cannot hesitate. We must conquer the country with one stroke."[98]

In 1999, The New York Times published an article on the uneasy rise of the New Kōmeitō Party in Japan (funded largely by Ikeda and Sōka Gakkai).[35] In response, a letter to the editor by Alfred Balitzer (later of Soka University of America) offered a more sympathetic portrayal of Sōka Gakkai.[99]


  • Compassionate Light in Asia with Jin Yong, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2013; ISBN 978-1848851986
  • The Human Revolution (The Human Revolution, #1-12), abridged two-book set, Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2008; ISBN 0-915678-77-2
  • The New Human Revolution (an ongoing series) (30+ Volumes, this is an ongoing series), Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 1995-; partial list of ISBN Vol.1 978-0-915678-33-4, Vol.2 978-0-915678-34-1, Vol.3 978-0-915678-35-8, Vol.4 978-0-915678-36-5, Vol.5 978-0-915678-37-2, Vol.6 978-0-915678-38-9, Vol.7 978-0-915678-39-6, Vol.8 978-0-915678-40-2, Vol.9 978-0-915678-41-9, Vol.10 978-0-915678-42-6, Vol.11 978-0-915678-43-3, Vol.12 978-0-915678-44-0, Vol.13 978-0-915678-45-7, Vol.14 978-0-915678-46-4, Vol.15 978-0-915678-47-1, Vol.16 978-0-915678-48-8, Vol.17 978-0-915678-49-5, Vol.18 978-0-915678-50-1, Vol.19 978-0-915678-51-8, Vol.20 978-0-915678-52-5, Vol.21 978-0-915678-53-2, Vol.22 978-0-915678-54-9, Vol.23 978-0-915678-55-6, Vol.24 978-0-915678-56-3
  • Choose Life: A Dialogue with Arnold J. Toynbee, Reprint edition, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008; ISBN 978-1845115951
  • Dawn After Dark with René Huyghe, Reprint edition, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008; ISBN 978-1845115968
  • Before It Is Too Late with Aurelio Peccei, Reprint edition, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008; ISBN 978-1845118884
  • Human Values in a changing world with Bryan Wilson Reprint edition, London and New York: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008; ISBN 978-1845115975
  • A Lifelong Quest for Peace with Linus Pauling Reprint edition, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008; ISBN 978-1845118891
  • Dialogue of World Citizens with Norman Cousins, (tentative translation from Japanese), Sekai shimin no taiwa, 世界市民の対話, Paperback edition, Tokyo, Japan: Seikyo Shimbunsha, 2000; ISBN 978-4412010772
  • Choose Peace: A Dialogue Between Johan Galtung and Daisaku Ikeda with Johan Galtung, London: Pluto Press, 1999; ISBN 978-0745310404
  • Planetary Citizenship: Your Values, Beliefs and Actions Can Shape A Sustainable World with Hazel Henderson, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2004; ISBN 0972326723/ISBN 978-0972326728
  • Moral Lessons of the Twentieth Century: Gorbachev and Ikeda on Buddhism and Communism with Mikhail Gorbachev, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2005; ISBN 9781845117733
  • A Quest for Global Peace: Rotblat and Ikeda on War, Ethics, and the Nuclear Threat with Joseph Rotblat, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2006; ISBN 978-1845112790
  • Global Civilization: A Buddhist-Islamic Dialogue With Majid Tehranian, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2008; ISBN 978-1860648106
  • Toward Creating an Age of Humanism with John Kenneth Galbraith (tentative translation from Japanese), Ningenshugi no dai seiki o, 人間主義の大世紀を―わが人生を飾れ, Tokyo, Japan: Ushio Shuppansha, 2005; ISBN 978-4267017308
  • New Horizons in Eastern Humanism Buddhism, Confucianism and the Quest for Global Peace with Tu Weiming, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2011; ISBN 978-1-84885-593-9
  • My Recollections, Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 1980; ISBN 978-0915678105
  • One by One: The World is Yours to Change, Sonoma, California: Dunhill Publishing; Paper/DVD edition, 2004; ISBN 978-1931501019
  • For the Sake of Peace: A Buddhist Perspective for the 21st Century, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2001; ISBN 978-0967469720
  • A Youthful Diary: One Man's Journey from the Beginning of Faith to Worldwide Leadership for Peace, Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2006; ISBN 978-1932911190
  • The Living Buddha: An Interpretive Biography, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2008; ISBN 978-0977924523
  • Buddhism: the First Millennium, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2009; ISBN 978-0977924530
  • The Flower of Chinese Buddhism, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2009; ISBN 978-0977924547
  • The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra (6 volumes), Santa Monica, California: World Tribune Press, 2000 (vols 1 & 2), 2001 (vol 3), 2002 (vol 4), 2003 (vols 5 & 6); ISBN 0-915678-69-1 (vol 1), 0-915678-70-5 (vol 2), 0-9-15678-71-3 (vol 3), 0-915678-72-1 (vol 4), 0-915678-73-X (vol 5), 0-915678-74-8 (vol 6)
  • On Peace, Life and Philosophy with Henry Kissinger (tentative translation from Japanese), Heiwa to jinsei to tetsugaku o kataru,「平和」と「人生」と「哲学」を語る, Tokyo, Japan: Ushio Shuppansha, 1987; ISBN 978-4267011641
  • Human Rights on the 21st Century with Austregesilo de Athayde, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2009; ISBN 978-1845119881
  • Revolutions to Green the Environment, to Grow the Human Heart: A Dialogue Between M.S. Swaminathan, Leader of the Ever-Green Revolution and Daisaku Ikeda, Proponent of the Human Revolution, Madras, India: East West Books, 2005; ISBN 978-8188661343
  • Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death: A Buddhist View of Life, 2nd edition, Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2004; ISBN 978-0972326704
  • Life: An Enigma, a Precious Jewel, 1st edition, New York: Kodansha America, Inc., 1982; ISBN 978-0870114335
  • Humanity at the Crossroads: An Intercultural Dialogue with Karan Singh, New Delhi: Oxford University Press India, 1988; ISBN 978-0195622157
  • The Snow Country Prince (children's book), New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1991; ISBN 978-0679919650
  • The Cherry Tree (children's book), Brian Wildsmith (Illustrator), New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1992; ISBN 978-0679826699
  • The Princess and the Moon (children's book), Brian Wildsmith (Illustrator), New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1992; ISBN 978-0679836209
  • Over the Deep Blue Sea (children's book), Brian Wildsmith (Illustrator), New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993, ISBN 978-0679841845
  • Kanta and the Deer (children's book), New York: Weatherhill, 1997; ISBN 978-0834804067
  • The Way of Youth: Buddhist Common Sense for Handling Life's Questions (with a foreword by Duncan Sheik), Santa Monica, California: Middleway Press, 2000, ISBN 9780967469706
  • Rendezvous with nature : songs of peace / photographs by Daisaku Ikeda, Shizen to no taiwa : heiwa no shi, 自然との対話 : 平和の詩, Tokyo: Sōka Gakkai, 2005; OCLC Number: 73228297
  • "A Dialogue Between East and West: Looking to a Human Revolution (Echoes and Reflections: The Selected Works of Daisaku Ikeda)" with Ricardo Diez-Hochleitner, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2008, ISBN 978-1845116002
  • Ode to the Grand Spirit: A dialogue Ode to the Grand Spirit: A Dialogue (Echoes and Reflections)" — with Chingiz Aitmatov, London and New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2009; ISBN 978-1-84511-987-4
  • 'La fuerza de la Esperanza; Reflexiones sobre la paz y los derechos humanos en el tercer milenio' (dialogue between Argentine Nobel Peace laureate Dr. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Daisaku Ikeda), Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores,2011; ISBN 9789500434126


  1. ^ International Committee of Artists for Peace
  2. ^ Min-On Concert Association
  3. ^ Tokyo Fuji Art Museum.
  4. ^ Institute of Oriental Philosophy.
  5. ^ Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research
  6. ^ This preface was written by Toynbee in the third person on behalf of both authors.


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Further reading[edit]

  • Seager, Richard: Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Sōka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhism. University of California Press, 2006.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Josei Toda
President of Sōka Gakkai
Succeeded by
Hiroshi Hōjō