||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (August 2014)|
Soka Gakkai International flag with logo
|Founders||Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, Jōsei Toda|
|Headquarters||Shinanomachi 32, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-8583, Japan|
|Membership||over 12 million (by own account)|
|President (SGI)||Daisaku Ikeda|
|Honorary President (SG)||Daisaku Ikeda|
|President (SG)||Minoru Harada|
|Parent organization||Nichiren Shōshū (until 1991)|
|Website||Soka Gakkai International|
|Formerly called||Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai|
|Part of a series on|
|Buddhism in Japan|
Soka Gakkai (Japanese: 創価学会?) is a Japanese new religious movement based on the writings of Nichiren and the teachings of the organization’s presidents Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, Jōsei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda. It is one of the larger Japanese new religions. Originally a lay group within the Nichiren Shōshū Buddhist sect, the Gakkai reveres the Lotus Sutra and places the chanting of the name of the Sutra at the center of devotional practice. The movement is publicly involved in peace activism, education and politics. It has also been at the center of controversies.
The movement was founded by educators Makiguchi and Toda in 1930. After a temporary disbandment during World War II when much of the leadership was imprisoned on charges of lèse-majesté, the membership base was expanded through controversial and aggressive recruitment methods to a claimed figure of 750,000 households by 1958, compared to 3,000 before the end of the war.
Further expansion of the movement was led by its third president Daisaku Ikeda, who planted the seed for the organization's international expansion in 1960. According to its own account, it has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories around the world. While Ikeda has been successful in moving the group towards mainstream acceptance in some areas, it is still widely viewed with suspicion in Japan.. James R. Lewis claims the Soka Gakkai still grapples with a stereotype of being a brainwashing cult even though the group has matured into a responsible member of society The strong feelings SGI members have toward Ikeda Daisaku has described as a cult of personality.[need quotation to verify]
The organization has been the subject of substantial criticism over the years, especially in the first three decades following World War II. Other scholars who utilize the Bryan R. Wilson typology of newly emerging denominations categorize it as "gnostic-manipulationist", a category of teachings holding that the world can improve as people master the right means and techniques to overcome their problems.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Makiguchi: 1930-1944
- 1.2 Toda: 1945-1958
- 1.3 Ikeda: 1960-
- 1.4 Separation from the Shōshū priesthood
- 2 Beliefs and practices
- 3 Organization
- 3.1 Membership
- 3.2 Leadership
- 3.3 List of Presidents
- 3.4 Japanese politics
- 3.5 Power and wealth
- 3.6 Educational institutions
- 3.7 Humanitarian Work
- 3.8 Public perception and criticism
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The Soka Gakkai officially traces it foundation to November 1930, when educators Tsunesaburō Makiguchi and his colleague Jōsei Toda published the first volume of Makiguchi's magnum opus on educational reform, Sōka Kyōikugaku Taikei (創価教育学体系, The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy).:49 In a 1933 publication by this group, Makiguchi explained one of his educational principles: "We must make our children thoroughly understand that loyal service to their sovereign is synonymous with love of country."
The first general meeting of the organisation, then under the name Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai (創価教育学会, lit. "Value Creating Educational Society"), did not take place until 1937. The group was a hokkeko (lay organization) affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu, by that time a small and obscure Nichiren Buddhist sect. Makiguchi, who had turned to religion in mid-life, found much in Nichiren's teachings that lent support to his educational theories, though it has been argued that the sect's doctrines and rituals went against the grain of Makiguchi's modernist spirit.:21–32 From the very first meeting, however, the main activity of the group seems to have been missionary work for Nichiren Shōshū, rather than propagating educational reform. The membership eventually came to change from teachers interested in educational reform to people from all walks of life, drawn by the religious elements of Makiguchi's beliefs in Nichiren Buddhism.:14
Repression during the war
The organization soon attracted the attention of the authorities. Makiguchi, as did Nichiren, interpreted the political troubles Japan was experiencing as a result of the propagation of false religious doctrines. His religious beliefs motivated him to take a stand against the government, earning him a reputation as a political dissident.:14–15
In 1942, a monthly magazine published by Makiguchi called Kachi Sozo (価値創造, "Creating values") was shut down by the government, after only nine issues had gone to press. In 1943, the group was instrumental in making the Nichiren Shoshu refuse to merge with the Nichiren Shū, per the Religious Organizations Law which had been established in 1939. Later the same year, one zealous Tokyo member told a non-member that his daughter had died as punishment for not converting to Nichiren Shōshū. This prompted a government investigation of the group, which perhaps precipitated the subsequent arrest of its leadership.:98, 108 The government believed that because Soka Gakkai members insulted the religious beliefs of others and destroyed religious implements, the group posed a threat to Japan's policy of religious freedom.
Makiguchi, Toda, and 19 other leaders of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai were arrested on July 6, 1943, on charges of breaking the Peace Preservation Law and lèse-majesté: for "denying the Emperor's divinity" and "slandering" the Ise Grand Shrine. The government had issued that a talisman from the Shinto shrine should be placed in every home and temple. While the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood had been prepared to accept the placing of a talisman inside its head temple, Makiguchi and the Gakkai leadership had openly refused. Makiguchi gave the following reason for refusing the talisman: "The Sun Goddess is the venerable ancestress of our Imperial Family, her divine virtue having been transmitted to each successive emperor who ascended the throne up to and including the present emperor. Thus has her virtue been transformed into the August Virtue of His Majesty which, shining down on the people, brings them happiness. ... In light of this, who is there, apart from His Majesty, the Emperor himself, to whom we should reverently pray?"
With its leadership decimated, the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai disbanded. During interrogation, Makiguchi had insisted that "The emperor is an ordinary man ... the emperor makes mistakes like anyone else".:40–41 The treatment in prison was harsh, and within a year, all but Makiguchi, Toda, and one more director had recanted and been released. On November 18, 1944, Makiguchi died in prison of malnutrition, at the age of 73.
The new Soka Gakkai
Jōsei Toda was released from prison in 1945 and immediately set out to rebuild what had been lost during the war. In February 1946, the organization was officially re-established, now under the shortened moniker Sōka Gakkai (lit. "Value-creation society"). While progress was slow for the first few years, the monthly magazine Daibyaku Renge (大白蓮華?) began publishing in 1949, and the newspaper Seikyo Shimbun in 1951 - the same year that Toda formally assumed presidency. During his acceptance speech, he placed a formidable challenge to the congregated members: to convert 750,000 families before his death. Toda added: "If this goal is not realized while I am still alive, do not hold a funeral for me. Simply dump my remains in the bay at Shinagawa.":285–286
Toda adopted an aggressive and controversial method of proselytizing, based on Nichiren teachings on shakubuku (折伏), often translated character for character as "break and subdue", sometimes as "forced conversion". Shakubuku, essentially, is the more assertive of two different methods of proselytizing traditionally employed by Nichiren adherents, in which the proselytizer aggressively confronts a non-adherent about the falsity of their beliefs. Toda's brand of shakubuku was of an unusually aggressive nature and would come to give Soka Gakkai a reputation of militancy. It also resulted in widespread criticism in the popular press and, remarkably, also by other Buddhist sects.
A 1955 report tells of a typical shakubuku session. Three or four young members called on the house of a young women for several days in succession, each time warning her that she had one week to join the Gakkai, or some terrible calamity would befall her home. On the last day they threatened to not move until she gave in - at two o'clock in the morning, she finally allowed them to sign her name.:104 In eyewitness reports of a similar session in 1964, Gakkai members surrounded a home, yelled and made noise for hours until the residents relented and agreed to join.:82 While the use of violence and intimidation as a part of the shakubuku in modern times has been dismissed by the Gakkai as "excessive zeal on the part of uneducated members", the evidence shows that much of it was actually organized by its high-ranking leaders.:74
Threats of divine vengeance and bodily harm were frequent, and a child's illness or death could be attributed to not having already joined the Gakkai.:82:199 Local leadership would often destroy the household Shinto altars of new members. There was infrequent violence, but also violent actions taken against Soka Gakkai members: "... veteran adherents from the Toda era speak of being driven away from houses by residents who doused them with water and pelted them with stones.":287:49
When the Religious Corporation Law came into effect in August 1952, the Soka Gakkai legally registered as a religious corporate body. The same year, Toda was required to deliver a statement to the special investigations bureau of the Department of Justice to the effect that Soka Gakkai members would refrain from the illegal use of violence or threats in their proselytizing.:217
While shakubuku was a controversial practice, it was certainly successful: during Toda's presidency, the Gakkai's official ledgers count an increase from 3,000 households to the 750,000 that Toda had demanded at the outset of his presidency - thereby smoothly avoiding the need to meet Toda's request that his body should be dumped in Shinagawa bay.:285–286 The accuracy of this figure was never confirmed by outside sources.:199 Whether or not the 750,000 number was strictly true or not, the Gakkai's membership had certainly grown. Many of the new recruits had been found among the "downtrodden classes" in the larger urban areas who had sometimes been excluded from the benefits of the "upward swing" during the postwar reconstruction boom.
The "raccoon dog festival" incident
The relationship with the parent organization Nichiren Shoshu worsened considerably during Toda. Specifically notable was what went down in the Gakkai annals as the "raccoon dog festival incident" on April 28, 1952. A group of 4,000 men belonging to the Gakkai's youth division headed to Taiseki-ji, the Nichiren Shoshu head temple, to confront a priest named Ogasawara who had allegedly cooperated with the authorities during the war. The group was led by President Toda and Daisaku Ikeda (who would eventually become the organization's third president). When Ogasawara initially refused to apologize, the men mobbed him, tore off his vestments and tagged him with a placard reading "raccoon dog monk". He was forcibly carried to Makiguchi's grave, where he was made to sign a written apology.:96–97:698–711 Toda, who claimed to have only hit Ogasawara twice during the ordeal, was temporarily banned from entering the temple.:96–97 Though no legal action was taken, this incident helped establish the organization's reputation as a violent cult.:705–711
The Gakkai's teachings at this point became more restrictive and lower ranking members were no longer allowed access to more difficult books. At this time, hundreds of thousands of Gakkai members were taught in "graded classes";:142 they were awarded titles like "assistant lecturer" and "associate professor" depending on their achievements in learning Gakkai doctrine.:208
With the rapid increase in membership, Toda "... focused on 'cultural activities' aimed at winning broad-based support ... in particular Toda decided that Soka Gakkai should enter the political area",:206 and the Sōka Gakkai first entered into politics in 1955. Toda's view was that according to the teachings of Nichiren, the day was soon to come when the true teachings of the Gakkai would become the law of the State and when Sōka Gakkai became the ruling government, a "national altar" would be built at Mount Fuji.
Toda passed away on April 2, 1958. The funeral was held at his home, but the coffin was afterwards carried past weeping, chanting crowds to the Ikebukuro temple Jozaiji, where he was buried.:84 The then prime minister Nobusuke Kishi attended the funeral - something that scandalized "quite a few Japanese" but was a testament to how the Gakkai had grown to a force to be reckoned with under Toda.:116 For two years after Toda's death, there was a leadership vacuum and the Gakkai had no president, as it was unclear if anyone was able to replace him.:118
Jōsei Toda was succeeded as president in 1960 by the 32-year-old Daisaku Ikeda. Ikeda had been "Toda's point man" in the aggressive shakubuku campaigns of the 1950s and one of the leaders of the violent "raccoon dog festival" in 1952, but he would nonetheless come to be a moderating and secularizing force.:77 Ikeda formally committed the organisation to the principles of free speech and freedom of religion and urged, from 1964, for a gentler approach to proselytizing.:97
Under Ikeda's leadership, the organization expanded further, both inside and outside Japan. Soka Gakkai's first chapter outside of Japan was founded in 1960 in California, as the "Nichiren Shoshu of America" (NSA), later "Nichiren Shoshu Academy", which grew at "a remarkable rate" and claimed some 200,000 American adherents by 1970. The Soka Gakkai International was formally founded in 1975, on Guam.
Foundation of the Komeitō
In 1970, a prominent university professor named Fujiwara Hirotatsu authored the book I Denounce Soka Gakkai in which he severely criticized the Gakkai, calling it "fascist" and comparing it to the early Nazi party. The Gakkai and Kōmeitō attempted to use their political power suppress its publication. When Fujiwara went public with the attempted suppression, the Gakkai was harshly criticized in the Japanese media. As a result, Ikeda announced that "Kōmeitō members of national and local assemblies will be removed from Soka Gakkai administrative posts." In the aftermath, both Kōmeitō and the Gakkai were more heavily critiqued by sections of Japanese society and their years of constant growth came to an end.:295 The same year, Soka Gakkai was also embroiled in a separate scandal - it was discovered that the Gakkai had been wiretapping the home of Kenji Miyamoto, leader of the JCP. The illegal operation had been headed by Masatomo Yamazaki, then legal advisor and vice chairmen of the Gakkai.
The New Komeito Party was founded in 1998, and has been allied with the LDP since 1999. The New Komeito has generally supported the policy agenda of the LDP, including reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, proposed in 2014 by LDP Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow "collective defense". Approval of this policy change came only after tense meetings between the party leadership and representatives of local branches, who reported that large majorities of party members in their districts were strongly opposed. It was approved only after party leaders promised to press for strict limits to the circumstances under which collective defense actions would be allowed.
In 1965, Ikeda announced plans to build a Shōhondō (正本堂, True Main Hall), at Taiseki-ji, the head temple of Shōshū, to house the dai-gohonzon (大御本尊), the Nichiren mandala from which all other gohonzon are said to derive their power. Soka Gakkai's fundraising for the building was extremely successful - eight million contributors donated more than 35.5 billion yen in a timespan of only four days in October 1965, perhaps making it the largest private fundraising project in Japan's history.:289–293
Ikeda and Soka Gakkai represented the Shōhondō as a "virtual" honmon no kaidan (本門の戒壇, roughly great ordination platform), one of the "three great treasures" whose construction would mark the completion of the entire nation's conversion to Nichiren's teachings. This led some Shōshū lay groups to object that the building should not be constructed until after all of Japan had actually been converted to Nichiren Buddhism.:289–293 When the Shōhondō was completed in 1972, the controversy about the timeliness of its construction heated up, with some lay groups denouncing the Gakkai. Ikeda worked to improve the Gakkai's relationship with the priesthood, and when a Shōshū lay group called Myōshinkō protested against the Gakkai in 1974, they were excommunicated by Shōshū. In 1976 the Nichiren Shōshū administration modified its liturgy to include a prayer for the success of the Soka Gakkai.
Separation from the Shōshū priesthood
In 1978, Soka Gakkai's relationship with Shōshū soured over the role of priests and lay believers. In 1979, the prayer for the success of the Soka Gakkai was removed from Nichiren Shōshū liturgy. Ikeda resigned from Soka Gakkai on April 24, 1979, retaining only an honorary title but maintaining presidency of Soka Gakkai International. It seems likely the conflict with the Nichiren priesthood was behind Ikeda's departure, and it has been suggested that the Nichiren priesthood demanded Ikeda's resignation.
In July 1979, the head abbot of Shōshū, Nittatsu Hosoi, passed away. A controversy arose among Shōshū lay groups over the legitimacy of his successor, Nikken Abe. 200 monastic opponents of Abe eventually formed a group, Shōshinkai, which was soon expelled from the Shōshū. Soka Gakkai supported Abe at this time.
The doctrinal dispute centered on interpretations of the meaning of the Three Jewels of Buddhism, in particular the "treasure of the Sangha", which according to Nichiren Shōshū refers to the Priesthood, while - according to the Soka Gakkai - anyone who practices true Buddhism is a member of the Sangha. This dispute related to the concept of religious authority: "The priesthood claims that it is the sole custodian of religious authority and dogma, while the Soka Gakkai leadership argues that the sacred writings of Nichiren, not the priesthood, represent the ultimate source of authority, and that any individual with deep faith in Nichiren's teachings can reach enlightenment without the assistance of a priest".
In 1991, Nichiren Shōshū administration published a list of points where they perceived Soka Gakkai to have deviated from Shōshū doctrine. Soka Gakkai was no longer considered a lay group of Shōshū, and its leaders, including Ikeda, were excommunicated. Many Japanese members of the Gakkai left at this time, believing that a cult of personality was developing around Ikeda which departed from Nichiren's teachings. Others left the organization out of concerns that they would no longer be able to enter Shōshū temples and have traditional pilgrimages and funerals. In response, Soka Gakkai began collecting names of Shōshū members across the country and held regular prayer sessions to attempt to "defeat" (打倒 datō) them.:300 In one incident, Gakkai members broke into a Shōshū temple during a religious service and beat a defector into unconsciousness. Soka Gakkai began fabricating evidence that the Shōshū administration had engaged in illicit conduct. Households were allowed to belong to both organizations until 1997, when Shōshū requested that all its members leave Soka Gakkai. In that year, Shōshū demolished the ¥35 billion Shōhondō building at Taiseki-ji.
In December 1999, Soka Gakkai was found guilty of libel against Shōshū. The Gakkai's official newspaper, the Seikyō Shinbun, had printed a doctored photo of Abe's 70th birthday party, claiming that it showed him cavorting with geisha. Following the guilty verdict, the Seikyō Shinbun reported that it had been found innocent of all charges. In July 2000, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform disclosed that a private investigator hired by Soka Gakkai had illegally stolen National Crime Information Center records pertaining to Abe. The committee expressed concern that no arrests were made.
Religious scholars have mixed opinions about the split. According to M. Bumann, the cause of the split was the friction between hierarchical tradition and democratic modernity: "A spirit of openness, egalitarianism, and democratization pervaded the SG, embodying and giving new life to the idea of self-empowerment. In 1991, these liberalizing developments led to the split between the Japan-oriented, priestly Nichiren Shōshū and the lay-based, globalized SGI." However, H. Neill McFarland has noted that Soka Gakkai is not democratic; it has no parliamentary procedure and no transparency, and he reports a widespread worry that the group is "fascistic".:217 In an analysis of books studying the expansion of SGI after the split, Jane Hurst viewed the split as the result of: "lay members seeking religious support for their lives, priests seeking perpetuation of hierarchical institutions". Ian Reader, on the other hand, saw "corrupt and scandalous behavior on both sides."
Beliefs and practices
Until the 1991 split with the Nichiren Shōshū, Sōka Gakkai existed within the Shōshū framework as a hokkeko, a form of lay organization. The split was to a degree caused by disagreements over the interpretation of Nichiren teachings, though this was not the main issue. While the two movements still share most of their canon, the Sōka Gakkai leadership, specifically Ikeda, has produced certain writings which have acquired a canonical status within Sōka Gakkai, such as Ikeda's book "Human Revolution", which in some ways sets it apart from its former parent organization.
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most popular and influential Mahāyāna sutras, of uncertain authorship. The sutra presents itself as a discourse delivered by Gautama Buddha toward the end of his life. The oldest parts of its text were probably written down between 100 BC and 100 AD: most of the text had appeared by 200 AD. While most Mahāyāna denominations regard the Lotus Sutra as important, a characteristic of Nichiren Buddhism is the elevation of the Lotus Sutra to the only true revelation of Buddhism. The sutra is the basis for the two central focuses in Nichiren Buddhist practice: the daimoku and the gohonzon.
Chanting of the daimoku
One of the major focuses in Nichiren Buddhism is the daily morning and evening chanting of the mantra Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華経, Hail the Marvelous Teaching of the Lotus Sutra), commonly referred to as the daimoku (題目, the title). Soka Gakkai teaches that through this chanting, one can gain this-worldly benefits that range from health, wealth and happiness to world peace. Gakkai doctrine has never shied away from materialistic desires, whether it's for this or the next life: Toda, Gakkai's second president, once advised: "I recommend that you accumulate good fortune [through chanting and performing shakubuku] in this life, so that in the next existence of life, you can be born into a family possessing five Cadillacs.":289 Ikeda voiced a similar sentiment in 1962: "I sincerely wish you will ... chant the Daimoku and practice Shakubuku for the sake of gaining great divine favor until you come to lead as majestic a life that you can say assuredly, 'I am the happiest in the world.'"
The daimoku can apparently also be used for destructive purposes. After the tumultuous 1991 split with the Nichiren Shōshū, Gakkai members were encouraged to chant for the destruction of the sect and of Nikken Abe, its head priest. Local Japanese chapters routinely passed out lists of nearby Shōshū temples for members to focus on in their daily chants.:302
The gohonzon (御本尊, roughly principal image of worship) is a diagram (mandala) calligraphed on white paper containing the names of the major bodhisattvas and Buddhas described in the Lotus Sutra. It is the major object of worship on Nichiren altars both in temples and in individual practitioner's homes and plays a large part in Nichiren practitioner's religious lives. It is facing the gohonzon that the daimoku is chanted. To SGI Nichiren Buddhists, the gohonzon symbolizes the superiority of the Lotus Sutra over other religions and Buddhist sects.
The power of all gohonzon are taught to flow from the dai-gohonzon (大御本尊, large gohonzon), the camphor wood original carved by Nichiren himself, housed in the Taisekiji temple. Toda likened the dai-gohonzon to a "happiness-producing machine" capable of realizing absolute happiness in one's lifetime.:289
The gohonzon has been a point of great contention between the Nichiren Shōshū and the Soka Gokkai since the 1991 schism. According to Shōshū doctrine, the high priest at Taisekiji has the exclusive ritual authority to consecrate and issue new gohonzon to all practitioners, but the priesthood has since the excommunication refused to issue any gohonzon to Gakkai members. For the Gakkai, this problem was partly solved in 1993 when the group began to have gohonzon replicas made from a 1720 transcription of the dai-gohonzon, conferred to the group by the Jōenji temple, one of a handful of temples that voluntarily left the Nichiren Shōshū together with Soka Gakkai in 1991.
One notable feature of Soka Gakkai is the alterations that have been made to its beliefs and practices over the decades. Daisaku Ikeda is described as having altered the Gakkai's teachings in order to improve the organization's public image. Beginning with Makiguchi, the leaders of the Gakkai have judged the usefulness of religion by its effectiveness, and denounced the "Greek ideals" of "truth, beauty, and goodness".:157
Beginning with Toda Josei, Soka Gakkai has taught that "life-force" (生命 seimei?), is an omnipresent, creative power derived from the Buddha, understood as the foundation of faith and practice at Soka Gakkai. This force is said to emanate directly from the gohonzon and it is through chanting of the daimoku that this power can be released, bringing happiness to the chanter. In Toda's own language, "by embracing this life-force, everything is enjoyed, nothing is suffered. This is called liberation.":113 The goal of life, according to Toda, is to achieve this happiness in this world.:150
Happiness is therefore an indication of participation in life-force. In proclaiming that faith is imperfect until it guarantees happiness for the greater number, Soka Gakkai is at odds with the doctrine of Nichiren Shoshu.:122–3 The writings of Nichiren are also lacking in this utilitarian concept.:126 Toda's belief that salvation comes from synchronizing one's vibrations with the eternal life force is a soteriology unique among Nichiren groups.
Views on priesthood
The Soka Gakkai teaches that it is possible to attain enlightenment without the assistance of traditional temples and without a system of priesthood, for any person with deep faith in Nichiren's teachings.
The group's peace activities can however be traced back to the Toda era - at an athletic meeting in 1957, Toda called for a complete ban on nuclear weapons. A 1975 petition drive against nuclear weapons by the Gakkai's youth division garnered 10 million signatures, and was handed over to the United Nations.:84
Culture of Peace
The Soka Gakkai was included in a collective Buddhist response to UNESCO's "Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace," established in Barcelona in December 1994. The Soka Gakkai's contribution to building a culture of peace is summarized by person-to-person diplomacy, the promotion of small community discussion meetings with egalitarian mores reflecting the Lotus tradition, the promotion of the values of compassion, wisdom, and courage to promote action to nurture world citizenship.
Each year, Ikeda publishes a peace proposal which examines global challenges in the light of Buddhist teachings and suggests specific actions to further peace and human security. The proposals are specific and wide-ranging, covering topics as constructing a culture of peace, promoting the development of the United Nations, nuclear disarmament, the prohibition of child soldiers, the empowerment of women, the promotion of educational initiatives in schools such as human rights and sustainable development education, and calls to reawaken the human spirit and individual empowerment. The complete texts of recent proposals are available at the SGI website. Soka Gakkai has founded a group called the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research which has published a compilation of topical excerpts from past proposals, with a focus on the role of the United Nations.
Establishment of Institutions
The Soka Gakkai has established multiple institutions and research facilities to promote its values of peace. The Institute of Oriental Philosophy (founded in 1962), among other goals, clarifies the essence of Buddhism to peace studies. The Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue (founded in 1993 as the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century), promotes dialogue between scholars and activists to prevent war and promote respect for life. The Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research (founded in 1996) conducts peace-oriented international policy research through international conferences and frequent publications.
Criticisms of the Soka Gakkai's promotion of pacifism
Soka Gakkai's pacifist stand has however been questioned for the group's support to the non-pacifist political party Komeito, without denying that the group is very active in "trying to establish the basis for world peace".:84 In Japan, there is a widespread negative perception of SGI's pacifist movement, which is considered to be mere public relations for the group.
Reason for controversy was the seemingly aggressive form of conversion or recruitment of new followers called shakubuku (Japanese 折伏; English: "break and subdue"), at least in the past. Although the movement has distanced itself from this aggressive form of recruitment of new followers, the term continues to be used.
The oneness of the mentor-disciple relationship is an important aspect of practicing and spreading Buddhism. Detractors have looked upon Soka Gakkai's version of the mentor and disciple relationship as a cult of personality for its focus on SGI President Ikeda. Outside observers describe Ikeda's role as a process where Sōka Gakkai "began a decisive transformation from an organization run by Ikeda to a group dedicated to Ikeda".
Associate Professor of Religion at Hamilton College, Richard Seager writes: “The oneness of the mentor-disciple relationship is described not in terms of demands and duties as many critics imagine it to be, but in terms of choice, freedom and responsibility. It is the disciple’s choice and decision to follow the mentor’s vision for their common goal. In response, it is the mentor’s wish to raise and foster the disciple to become greater than the mentor.:63
Soka Gakkai was originally a lay organization of Nichiren Shōshū, meaning it was necessary to belong to Shōshū to be a member of the Gakkai and was stripped of its status as a lay organization of Nichiren Shōshū. There are several other lay organizations within Shōshū as well as members of Shōshū who belong to no organization.
Formally, the Soka Gakkai International is the umbrella organization for all national organizations, while Soka Gakkai by itself refers to the Japanese arm. Soka Gakkai International maintains an international political presence as a registered non-governmental organization with the United Nations.:273
SGI has been in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1983. As an NGO working with the United Nations, SGI has been active in public education with a focus mainly on peace and nuclear weapons disarmament, human rights and sustainable development.
Though a lay organization, there are a handful of temples and ordained priests affiliated with the Gakkai: the Kenbutsuji in Kyoto, the Kōryūji in Yūbari, Hokkaido, the Jōenji in Oyama, Tochigi, for example. These temples were previously affiliated with the Nichiren Shōshū but voluntarily left after the split.:301
In recent decades it has become quite difficult for academics and other outsiders to get access to reliable information about the Soka Gakkai's inner workings. As a result, there is a paucity of independent in-depth studies of the organization.
Soka Gakkai has, together with its international offshoot Soka Gakkai International (SGI) been described as "the world's largest Buddhist lay group and America's most diverse". Soka Gakkai International claims a total of over 12 million adherents. The lion's share of these belong to the Japanese organization, whose official membership count is 8.27 million households. According to statistics from the Agency for Cultural Affairs (a body of the Japanese Ministry of Education), the Japanese organization had 5.42 million individual members in 2000. Even that number, however, has been questioned by some authors.
List of Presidents
List of Presidents of Soka Gakkai
- Tsunesaburō Makiguchi (18 November 1930 – 2 May 1944)
- Jōsei Toda (3 May 1951 – 2 May 1960)
- Daisaku Ikeda (3 May 1960 – 24 April 1979)
- Hiroshi Hōjō (北条浩) (24 April 1979 – 18 July 1981)
- Einosuke Akiya (18 July 1981 – 9 November 2006)
- Minoru Harada (9 November 2006 – present):94
Honorary President of Soka Gakkai
- Daisaku Ikeda (24 April 1979 – present)
President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
- Daisaku Ikeda (26 January 1975 – present)
Soka Gakkai's initial forays into politics met with conflict. On April 23, 1957, a group of Young Men's Division members campaigning for a Gakkai candidate in an Osaka Upper House by-election were arrested for distributing money, cigarettes, and caramels at supporters' residences, in violation of elections law, and on July 3 of that year, at the beginning of an event memorialized as the "Osaka Incident," Ikeda Daisaku was arrested in Osaka. He was taken into custody in his capacity as Sōka Gakkai's Youth Division Chief of Staff for overseeing activities that constituted violations of elections law. He spent two weeks in jail and appeared in court forty-eight times before he was cleared of all charges in January 1962.
While the political party New Komeito is nominally separated from the Soka Gakkai and has been so since 1970, some critics have alleged that the party is in effect controlled by the Gakkai as almost all party members are also members of the religious group and that their voluntary activities during election campaigns equal a de facto endorsement of the party. Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution demands the strict separation of politics and religion. While Kōmeitō claim that they fulfill and comply with those legal and constitutional demands, all of New Kōmeitō's past and current presidents have held executive positions in Soka Gakkai.
The Japan Echo alleged in 1999 that Soka Gakkai distributed fliers to local branches describing how to abuse the jūminhyō residence registration system in order to generate a large number of votes for Komeito candidates in specific districts. In the 1980s Akahata discovered that many Soka Gakkai members were rewarding acquaintances with presents in return for Komeito votes, and that Okinawa residents had changed their addresses to elect Komeito politicians. This resulted in Soka Gakkai being harshly criticized by the Ryūkyū Shimpō and Okinawa Times.
Power and wealth
SGI's president, Daisaku Ikeda, has been referred to as "the most powerful man in Japan". The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Ikeda cultivates the image of a "charismatic leader", although he has displayed a "violent temper" in private. Former Mainichi Shimbun reporter Toshiaki Furukawa has alleged that the acquisition of personal awards and honors for Ikeda has been budgeted by the Gakkai as "charity services".
In the 1990s, a Japanese parliamentarian alleged the Soka Gakkai had amassed wealth up towards $100 billion, though the organization denied this. Journalists writing for Forbes estimated the organization brings in at least $1.5 billion per year, while an Asiaweek article published in 1994 reported on a $2 billion figure from donations alone. Religion scholar Hiroshi Shimada has estimated the wealth of the Japanese arm at ¥500 billion. In 2004, Soka Gakkai as a religious organization alone was Japan's 170th largest corporation, and its earnings were over 100 times larger than any other religious organization.:34
In 1989, a Soka Gakkai-controlled museum auctioned two Renoir paintings for 3.6 billion yen (over $35 million), but only paid the seller 2.125 billion yen (roughly $20 million). An investigation discovered how most of the money had been apportioned, but roughly $3 million is still missing.:51
Soka Gakkai fully owns the Seikyo Shinbun (聖教新聞), which has a readership base of 5.5 million, making it Japan's third most widely circulated newspaper. The newspaper does not own its own printing equipment, instead paying the other major newspaper publishers to print the newspapers throughout the country - a strategy which has been criticized as an attempt to dissuade them from giving negative coverage to the organization. Seikyo Shinbun regularly reports on President Ikeda's activities, making evident "the cult surrounding his figure". Soka Gakkai also owns the popular literary journal Ushio.:218
- Sapporo Soka Kindergarten - Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, founded in 1976
- Hong Kong Soka Kindergarten - Hong Kong, founded in 1992
- Singapore Soka Kindergarten - Singapore, founded in 1993
- Malaysia Soka Kindergarten - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, founded in 1995
- Brazil Soka Kindergarten - São Paulo, Brazil, founded in 2001
- Soka Happiness Kindergarten - Dongjak District, Seoul, South Korea, founded in 2008
- Tokyo Soka Elementary School - Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan, founded in 1978
- Kansai Soka Elementary School - Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, founded in 1982
- Brazil Soka School - São Paulo, Brazil, founded in 2003.
Junior and Senior High Schools
- Soka Gakuen Tokyo Campus - Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan, founded in 1968
- Soka Gakuen Kansai Campus - Katano, Osaka, Japan, founded in 1973
- Soka Women's College - Hachiōji, Tokyo, Japan, founded in 1985
- Soka Ikeda College of Art And Science For Women - Tamil Nadu, India, founded in 2000
Soka University of America
The Soka University of America is a private university founded in 1987, located in Aliso Viejo, California, with $1.01 billion on assets in the year 2014 and 412 undergraduate students. While the university claims to be secular and independent of Soka Gakkai, it is largely funded by Soka Gakkai . Currently it is reported that “the school maintains no religious affiliation.” 
The expansion of the university over a flat meadow coveted by public parks officials wanting to build a visitor center for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area precipitated a slew of litigations and a battle with the school and local environmentalists.
The original campus was in Calabasas, California, but opened a new campus in Aliso Viejo when expansion in Calabasas was met by environmental concerns.
One college evaluating organization ranked SUA the 56th best college (out of 1,394 ranked) in America, and the 9th (of 82) best in California. U.S. News and World Report listed SUA as the 5th “best value” liberal arts college in America.
Soka Gakkai also conduct humanitarian aid projects in disaster regions. It not only dedicated to personal spiritual development but also to engaged community service. SGI-Chile members collected supplies to deliver to a relief center after the country's recent earthquake.
Public perception and criticism
Soka Gakkai is rarely criticized in public forums. Some[who?] claim that television stations have a policy prohibiting mention of the link between Soka Gakai and the Kōmeito, although political commentators on all networks discuss the relationship regularly in their analyses of election results. Ikeda occasionally contributes editorials to major newspapers, which also print reports on Gakkai business. However, some claim that major newspapers overlook news critical of the Gakkai. According to one account in Shukan Shincho, Japanese news media cannot handle the social and economic pressure that the Gakkai poses.
In the year 1998 the final paper of the Select committee of the German Parliament on so-called Cults came to the conclusion that,due to its connection to its mother-organisation (SGI), being conflict-laden in other parts of the world, the German branch(SGI-D) remains potentially problematic.
Relationship with Noriega
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. Both leaders praised each other's virtues in public statements.:160 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", and Noriega presented Ikeda with the Order of Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The Soka Gakkai reciprocated by creating a "Noriega Garden" (ノリエガ庭園) at one of its locales in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, which was unceremoniously destroyed after Noriega's arrest.
Friends of Noriega and anonymous American sources 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 have repeatedly denied this.
- Melton, J. Gordon; Baumann, Martin, eds. (2010). Religions of the world : a comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. pp. 2656–2659. ISBN 978-1598842036.
- Kisala, Robert (2004). "Soka Gakkai: Searching for the Mainstream". In Lewis, James R.; Aagaard Petersen, Jesper. Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. pp. 139–152.
- Gallagher, Eugene V.; Ashcraft, W. Michael, eds. (2006). Introduction to new and alternative religions in America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-275-98712-4.
- Phillip E. Hammond and David W. Machacek, “Soka Gakkai International” in J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann (eds.), Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, 2010, p. 2658. “Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928), Soka Gakkai’s charismatic third president, led the international growth of the movement. Although Ikeda and his successor, Einosuke Akiya, have gone to great lengths to improve the movement’s public image, suspicion remains. Soka Gakkai’s political involvement through the organ of the Komeito, a political party founded by the Soka Gakkai, and the near godlike reverence that members have for President Ikeda have tended to perpetuate public distrust. Although it has been subjected to a generalized suspicion toward Eastern religious movements in the United States, Europe, and South America, the movement’s history outside of Japan has been tranquil by comparison to its Japanese history.”
- Wellman, Jr., James K.; Lombardi, Clark B. (eds.). Religion and human security : a global perspective. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-0199827756. "When I conducted a survey of 235 Doshisha University students a few years ago asking their opinions about the Gakkai and how much they knew about its peace education programs, over 80 percent responded that they had a negative image of the movement and about 60 percent thought that its "peace movement" is little more than promotional propaganda. the few respondents with a positive image were either Soka Gakkai members, were related members, or were friends of members."
- Lewis, James R. (2003). Legitimating new religions ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0813533247. "Soka Gakkai also spread to the United States and Europe, where it aroused controversy as a result of its intense proselytizing activities. Although it was never as controversial as groups like the Hare Krishna Movement or the Unification Church, Sokka Gakkai—which in the United States went under the name Nichiren Shoshu of America after Soka Gakkai broke with Nichiren Shoshu—was not unfrequently strereotyped as a brainwashing cult, particularly by anti-cult authors." p. 218
- Lewis, p. 217
- Maria Immacolata Macioti, The Buddha within Ourselves, translated by Richard M. Capozzi. University Press of America, 2002. Originally printed as Il Buddha che e in noi: Germogli del Sutra Loto, Edizioni Seam, 1996. "President Ikeda is very much loved - -and according to a few authoritative studies, too much loved so much so, in fact, that he risks a personality cult. At leaders’ meetings, and at district and chapter meetings too, one often refers to a phrase from his writings, or his guidance." p. 115
- Yanatori, Mitsuyoshi (1977). Sōka Gakkai (in Japanese). Tokyo: Kokusho Kankōkai.
- Watanabe, Teresa (15 March 1996). "Japan's Crusader or Corrupter?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Seagar, Richard (2006). Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, the Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism. University of California Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-52024577-8. "Since its founding in the 1930s, the SG has repeatedly found itself at the center of controversies, some linked to major struggles over the future of Japan, others to intense internal religious debates that erupted into public view. Over the course of its history, however, it has also grown into a large, politically active, and very well-established network of institutions, whose membership represents something on the order of a tenth of the Japanese population. One result is that there is a fractured view of the movement in Japan. On one hand, it is seen as a highly articulated, politically and socially engaged movement with an expressed message of human empowerment and global peace. On the other, it has been charged with an array of nefarious activities that range from fellow traveling with Communists and sedition to aspiring to world domination."
- Beasley, W.G., ed. (1977). Modern Japan: aspects of history, literature, and society. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 190–196. ISBN 0-520-03495-3.
- Hunt, Arnold D. (1975). Japan's militant Buddhism: a survey of the Soka Gakkai movement. Salisbury East, S. Aust.: Salisbury College of Advanced Education. pp. 1–13. ISBN 0909383065.
- Brannen, Noah (1968). Sōka Gakkai: Japan's militant Buddhists. John Knox Press. pp. 80, 101.
- Kitagawa, Joseph M. (1990). Religion in Japanese history ([Reprint]. ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 329–330. ISBN 978-0231028387.
- Bryan Wilson, Religion in Secular Society. Penguin, 1969
- Bryan Wilson, Magic and the Millennium, Heinemann, London, 1973, pp. 18-30
- Wallis, Roy (1976). The road to total freedom: a sociological analysis of Scientology. London: Heinemann Educational. p. 156. ISBN 0-435-82916-5.
- Glock, Charles Y.; Bellah, Robert N., eds. (1976). The New religious consciousness. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 200. ISBN 0-520-03083-4.
- Clarke, Peter, ed. (2008). Encyclopedia of new religious movements (1. publ. ed.). London: Routledge. p. 594. ISBN 978-0415453837.
- Bethel, Dayle M. (1994). Makiguchi the value creator : revolutionary Japanese educator and founder of Soka Gakkai ([1st pbk. ed.]. ed.). New York: Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0318-6.
- Victoria, Brian (2001). "Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?". Journal of Global Buddhism 2. ISSN 1527-6457.
- Levi McLaughlin, Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions, Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion, ISBN 978 90 04 23435 2, page 282
- Seager, Richard Hughes (2006). Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism. Berkeley [u.a.]: Univ. of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24577-8.
- Hammond, Phillip E.; Machacek, David W. (1999). Soka Gakkai in America: accommodation and conversion (Reprinted. ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198293897.
- Robert L. Ramseyer. "The Soka Gakkai". In Beardsley, Richard K., editor, Studies in Japanese culture I. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1965. p. 156
- Metraux, Daniel A. (March 1986). "The Soka Gakkai's Search for the Realization of the World of Rissho Ankokuron". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 13 (1). Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- Thomas, Jolyon Baraka (2014). Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom (Ph.D.). Princeton University. p. 281.
- Laderman, Gary; León, Luis, eds. (2003). Religion and American cultures. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.]: ABC- CLIO. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-57607-238-7.
- Offner, Clark B. (1963). Modern Japanese Religions: With Special Emphasis Upon Their Doctrines of Healing. New York: Twayne Publishers. pp. 101–102.
- McLaughlin, Levi (2012). "Soka Gakkai in Japan". Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions. Brill. ISBN 9004234365.
- Moos, Felix (March 1963). "Religion and Politics in Japan: The Case of the Soka Gakkai". Asian Survey. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Doherty, Jr., Herbert J. (Winter 1963). "Soka Gakkai: Religions and Politics in Japan". The Massachusetts Review 4 (2). Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- White, James W. (1970). The Sōkagakkai and mass society. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804707282.
- Naylor, Christina (March 1991). "Nichiren, Imperialism, and the Peace Movement". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 18 (1).
- McFarland, H. Neill (1967). Rush Hour of the Gods. New York: Macmillan.
- Heine, Steven, ed. (2003). Buddhism in the modern world : adaptations of an ancient tradition ([Reprint.]. ed.). New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-514697-2.
- Aruga, Hiroshi. "Sōka Gakkai and Japanese Politics," in Machacek, David and Bryan Wilson, eds, Global Citizens: The Sōka Gakkai Buddhist Movement in the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 104-114
- In Japanese folklore, the tanuki or Japanese raccoon dog is regarded as a sly and deceptive being with shapeshifting powers. The word is still used in contemporary Japanese to refer to slyness and deception. See the definition of tanuki in Kōjien (2nd ed.): 他人を欺くこと。また、そのひと。
- Murata, Kiyoaki (1969). Japan's new Buddhism: an objective account of Soka Gakkai ([1st ed.]. ed.). New York: Weatherhill. ISBN 978-0834800403.
- Shimada, Hiromi (2008). Sōkagakkai (KindleISBN 978-4106100727.) (in Japanese). Tōkyō: Shinchōsha.
- Brannen, Noah (September 1964). "False Religions, Forced Conversions, Iconoclasm". Contemporary Religions in Japan V (3). Archived from the original on 2013-12-03.
- Brannen, Noah (September 1962). "The Teachings of Sōka Gakkai". Contemporary Religions in Japan 3: 248–249. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- Orient/West 7 (7-11). 1962.
- Neusner, Jacob, ed. (2003). World religions in America: an introduction (3. ed ed.). Louisville, Ky. ;London: Westminster John Knox. p. 166. ISBN 978-0664224752.
- Kawanami, Hiroko (2001). Ian Harris, ed. Buddhism and politics in twentieth-century Asia. New York: Continuum. p. 114. ISBN 978-0826451781.
- Nakano, Tsuyoshi. "Religion and State". In: Tamura, Noriyoshi and David Reed, eds. 1996. Religion in Japanese Culture: Where Living Traditions Meet a Changing World. Tokyo: Kodansha International, p. 127.
- Shimbun Akahata. 宮本顕治委員長（当時）宅電話盗聴事件の判決は？
- "MAJOR SECURITY SHIFT: Local New Komeito officials oppose collective self-defense". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 2014-07-27.
- Daniel A. Metraux. "Why Did Ikeda Quit?" Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, vol. 7, no. 1 (March 1980): 55-61.
- Jane Hurst. "A Buddhist Reformation in the 20th Century: Causes and Implications of the Conflict between the Soka Gakkai and the Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood".
- The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1992 - 19/4, The Dispute between Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu D. Metraux, p. 326
- Fire in The Lotus, Daniel B. Montgomery, Mandala 1991, 1991, p. 200
- Kunii, Irene (November 20, 1995). "Fighting Against the Tide". Time.
- Reader, Ian. "Review of "A Time to Chant" by Wilson and Dobbelaere". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22 (1): 223.
- Shimbun Akahata Tokubetsu Shuzaihan (2000). Seikyō ittai: Kōmeitō, Sōka Gakkai seiken sanka o tou 3. Shin-Nihon Shuppansha. pp. 58–9. ISBN 4406027378.
- Seikyo Shinbun, December 7, 1999 『創価学会全面勝訴』
- 山田, 直樹 (27 November 2004). "新「創価学会」を斬る【第４回】". 週刊新潮.
- Felonies and Favors: A Friend of the Attorney General Gathers Information from the Justice Department. United States House of Rerpresentatives Committee on Government Reform, July 27, 2000
- Martin Baumann Book Review of Hugh Seager - JGB Volume 7
- Prebish, Charles S.; Tanaka, Kenneth K., eds. (1998). The faces of Buddhism in America. Berkeley, Calif.: University Press. pp. 285–286. ISBN 978-0520213012.
- Cornille, C. (1998). "Canon formation in new religious movements: the case of the Japanese New Religions". In van der Kooij, A. Canonization and decanonization : papers presented to the international conference of the Leiden Institute for the Study of Religions (LISOR), held at Leiden 9-10 January 1997. Leiden: Brill. pp. 283–287. ISBN 9004112464.
- Williams, Paul (1989). Mahāyāna Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations. Routledge. p. 142. ISBN 9780415356534.
- Scott, Rachelle M. (2009). Nirvana for sale? : Buddhism, wealth, and the Dhammakāya Temple in contemporary Thailand. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-1438427843.
- Ikeda, Daisaku (19262). Lectures on Buddhism, Vol. II. Tokyo: The Seikyo Press. p. 108.
- Seager, Richard Hughes (1999). Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231108683.
- Pickover, Clifford A. (2003). The Zen of magic squares, circles, and stars : an exhibition of surprising structures across dimensions (2. opl. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0691115979.
- Murata, Kiyoaki (1969). Japan's New Buddhism: An Objective Account of Soka Gakkai. New York: Weatherhill. p. 174. "One factor favoring Soka Gakkai's survival, if not its spectacular growth, is its flexibility in the interpretation and application of doctrine. It seems to have enabled Ikeda to modify the policies and programs of his predecessors to improve Soka Gakkai's public image."
- Ramsmeyer, Robert L. (1965). "The Soka Gakkai: Militant Religion on the March". Studies in Japanese Culture 1.
- Shimazono, Susumu (2004). "Soka Gakkai and the Modern Reformation of Religion". From salvation to spirituality: popular religious movements in modern Japan. Melbourne, Victoria: Trans Pacific. pp. 109–127. ISBN 1876843128.
- Onishi, Katsuaki (2009). "The Prototype and Transfiguration of Religious Teachings about Life Problems in Soka Gakkai". Journal of religious studies 82 (4).
- The Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1992 - 19/4, D. Metraux, p. 326
- Richard H. Seager, Encountering the Dharma: Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and the Globalization of Buddhist Humanism, University of California Press:2006, p. 83
- Kisala, Robert (2000). Prophets of peace: Pacifism and cultural identity in Japan's new religions. Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0824822675.
- David W. Chappell, "Introduction," in David W. Chappell (ed.), Buddhist Peacework: Creating Cultures of Peace, Wisdom Publications: 1999, pp. 22-23
- Anwarul K. Chowdhury, "Introduction," Olivier Urbain (ed), A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN. IB Tauris, 2013, ISBN 978-1780768403, pp. xi-xiv
- "Proposals". www.sgi.org. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
- Olivier Urbain (ed), A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN. IB Tauris, 2013, ISBN 978-1780768403
- Karel Dobbelaere, "Toward a Pillar Organization?" in Global Citizens, Machacek and Wilson (eds.), pp. 243, 250
- Seager, p. 107
- Daniel B. Montgomery: Fire in the Lotus, Mandala 1991, S. 185-186
- Yano, Jun'ya (2009). Kuroi techō: Sōka Gakkai "Nihon senryō keikaku" no zenkiroku. Tōkyō: Kōdansha. ISBN 978-4-06-215272-3.
- Levi McLaughlin, Did Aum Change Everything? What Soka Gakkai Before, During, and After the Aum Shinrikyo Affair Tells Us About the Persistent “Otherness” of New Religions in Japan, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies Vol 39 (1), 51-75, 2012. Archived from the original
- UNODA, update (18 March 2014). "UN Office for Disarmament Affairs Meets Youth Representatives of Soka Gakkai Japan and of SGI-USA Engaged in Disarmament Issues". Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- Ehrhardt, George (14 March 2008). "Review: Jiminto – Soka Gakkai – Komeito: Kokumin Fuzai no Renritsu Seikken – Hishi; Komeito – Soka Gakkai no Shinjitsu; Soka Gakkai to ha Nanika". Politics and Religion 1 (1). doi:10.1017/S1755048308000072.
- Strand, Clark (2008). "Faith in Revolution". Tricycle Magazine 4.
- "What is SGI?". sgi.org. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "概要". SOKAnet 創価学会公式サイト. Soka Gakkai. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- "わが国における主な宗教団体名". 文化庁. 1995-12-31. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
- Murakami, Shigeyoshi (2007). Shinshūkyō : sono kōdō to shisō. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 978-4006001704.
- Shimada, Hiromi (2007). Nihon no 10-dai shinshūkyō. Tōkyō: Gentōsha. ISBN 978-4344980600.
- Numata, Ken'ya (1988). Gendai Nihon no shinshūkyō : jōhōka shakai ni okeru kamigami no saisei (Dai 1-han. ed.). Osaka: Sōgensha. ISBN 978-4422140155.
- "Minoru Harada appointed as Soka Gakkai President". Soka Gakkai International. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- Rethinking the Komeito Voter, George Ehrhardt, Appalachian State University, Japanese Journal of Political Science 10 (1) 1–20
- Lecture by Levi McLaughlin at Princeton University on SGI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx1st9FSK98
- McLaughlin, Levi (2012). "Did Aum Change Everything?". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 39 (1). pp. 51–75.
- On Politics and Religion | About Us | KOMEITO
- Matsutani, Minoru (2 December 2008). "Soka Gakkai keeps religious, political machine humming". The Japan Times. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Endou, Kôichi (August 1999). "The Kômeitô: A Virus Infecting the Body Politic". Japan Echo. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- Yōichi, Kira (1986). Sōka Gakkai nanatsu no daizai : jitsuroku (Shohan. ed.). Tōkyō: Shin Nihon Shuppansha. ISBN 4406013881.
- 沖縄タイムス1981年7月27日付 社会面, 琉球新報1981年7月27日付 4面
- Magee, Michelle (December 27, 1995). "Japan Fears Another Religious Sect". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Furukawa, Toshiaki. Shisutemu to shite no soka gakkai. Tokyo: Daisan Shokan. p. 236. ISBN 978-4807499229. "池田大作が海外で表彰、名誉博士号等を受けるにはそれなりのコストがかか池田大作がゴルバチヨフと面会するための工作費は数十億円社会福祉団体から「福祉功労賞」を授与されれいる。"
- Benjamin Fulford; David Whelan (9 June 2006). "Sensei's World". Forbes. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "The Komeito Factor. Fears Over the Rapid Rise of a Buddhist-Backed Party Soka Gakkai: Aggressive proselytizing, extensive networks - and big money". Asiaweek (Asiaweek Limited) 20 (14-26): 198–199.
- Weekly Diamond. 『創価学会の経済力』. August 7, 2004.
- "聖教新聞 公称550万部で毎日新聞の400万部を上回る数字". NEWSポストセブン. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Soka Gakuen website
- Chronology of School Establishment
- Pyle, Amy (17 November 1991). "Various Soka Groups Appear Linked". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Best Colleges - U.S. News Ranking". U.S. News and World report Education. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- Aaron Curtiss (12 December 1993). "Soka University: FIGHT BREWS OVER LAND IN THE SANTA MONICAS". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Loesing, John (13 March 2003). "Environmentalists beat Soka University—again". The Acorn. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Soka University of America". College Factual. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- "U.S. News and World report Announces the 2014 Best Colleges". U.S. News and World report. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- "Academics Overview". Soka University of America. Retrieved 2014-08-17.
- Seagar, Richard. Encountering the Dharma. University of California Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-520-24577-8.
- Religious Humanitarian Work
- 山田, 直樹 (13 November 2004). "新「創価学会」を斬る【第２回】". 週刊新潮.
- Endbericht der Enquete-Kommission Sogenannte Sekten und Psychogruppen, Page.105 (PDF; 6,5 MB)
- Métraux, Daniel A. (1994). The Soka Gakkai revolution. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America. ISBN 978-0819197337.
- "Reunion with Panamanian Leader". The Sōka Gakkai News. 191-237: 9. International Bureau, Sōka Gakkai., 1985.
- Furukawa, Toshiaki (2000). Karuto to shite no Sōka Gakkai = Ikeda Daisaku (Shohan ed.). Tōkyō: Daisan Shokan. pp. 99–101. ISBN 978-4807400171.
- Kempe, Frederick (1990). Divorcing the dictator: America's bungled affair with Noriega. London: Tauris. p. 286. ISBN 1-85043-259-7.
- Tsurumi, Yoshihiro (1994). Amerikagoroshi no chōhassō : "dorei" Nihon yo, me o samase! seido hirō o sugu tadase!. Tōkyō: Tokuma Shoten. ISBN 4198501653.
- Sōka Gakkai in America: Accommodation and Conversion By Phillip E. Hammond and David W. Machacek. London: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-829389-5
- "The Sōka Gakkai: Buddhism and the Creation of a Harmonious and Peaceful Society" by Daniel A. Metraux in Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia. Christopher S. Queen and Sallie B. King, eds. SUNY Press, 1996.
- The New Believers: A survey of sects, cults and alternative religions. David V Barrett. Octopus Publishing Group, 2003
- The Lotus and the Maple Leaf: The Sōka Gakkai in Canada by Daniel A. Metraux (University Press of America, 1996)
- Fundamentals of Buddhism (second edition) by Yasuji Kirimura (Nichiren Shōshū International Center [now SGI], 1984). ISBN 4-88872-016-9
- Sōka Gakkai kaibō ("Dissecting Sōka Gakkai") by the editors of Aera (Asahi Shimbun, 2000). ISBN 4-02-261286-X (Japanese)
- A Public Betrayed: An Inside Look at Japanese Media Atrocities and Their Warnings to the West. Adam Gamble & Takesato Watanabe. Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2004. ISBN 0-89526-046-8
- (SERA) Southeast Review of Asian Studies 29 (2007). "Religion, Politics, and Constitutional Reform in Japan," by Daniel Metraux, 157-72.
- Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia. Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, eds. 2002.
- Igami, Minobu. 1995. Tonari no Sōka Gakkai [The Sōka Gakkai Next Door], Tokyo: Takarajima.
- Editors of AERA: Sōkagakkai kaibai (創価学会解剖: "Dissecting Sōkagakkai"). Asahi Shimbun-sha, October 1995. ISBN 978-4-02-261286-1. AERA is a weekly investigative news magazine published by one of Japan's leading news organizations; this book attempts to present a dry, fair assessment of Sōkagakkai and Daisaku Ikeda and contains several interviews with Gakkai leaders.
- Shimada, Hiroki: Sōkagakkai no jitsuryoku (創価学会の実力: "The true extent of Sōkagakkai's power"). Shinchosha, August 2006. ISBN 5-02-330372-0. Argues that the Sōka Gakkai is not (or is no longer) as powerful as many of its opponents fear, and that it is losing ground internally as all but the most dedicated are turned off by the leadership and fewer members need the organization for social bonding. Also notes that it is becoming more like a civic rather than a religious organization, and that inactive members don't resign because they want to avoid the ostracism and harassment that can result.
- Shimada, Hiroki: Kōmeitō vs. Sōkagakkai (公明党vs.創価学会: "The Kōmeitō and the Sōka Gakkai"). Asahi Shinsho, June 2007. ISBN 978-4-02-273153-1. Describes the relationship between Kōmeitō and Sōka Gakkai and the development of their history. Touches on the Sōka Gakkai–Nichiren Shōshū split, describing it as the result of a power struggle and financial constraints, as well as on the organized harassment of opponents by Sōka Gakkai members, the organization's use of its media vehicles to vilify opponents, and Ikeda's demand for unquestioning loyalty.
- Taisekiji: Shoshū Hashaku Guide (Jp: 諸宗破折ガイド: "Guide to refuting [erroneous teachings of] other schools"). 2003 (no ISBN); pp. 160–164. Published by the Buddhist school formerly associated with Sōka Gakkai and presents details of Sōka Gakkai's gradual distortion of the school's teachings and reasons for its severing of ties.
- Tamano, Kazushi: Sōkagakkai no Kenkyū (創価学会の研究: "Research on the Sōkagakkai"). Kodansha Gendai Shinsho, 2008. ISBN 978-4-06-287965-1. This book is an attempt to review scholarly studies of Sōka Gakkai from the 1950s to the 1970s and shifts in perceptions of the organization as journalists took over from scholars. Tamano takes the perspective of a social scientist and describes Sōka Gakkai as a socio-political phenomenon. He is also somewhat critical of some views Shimada expressed in the latter's recent publications.
- Yamada, Naoki: Sōkagakkai towa nanika (創価学会とは何か: "Explaining Sōkagakkai"). Shinchosha, April 2004. ISBN 4-10-467301-3
- Yano, Jun'ya: Kuroi Techō—Sōka Gakkai "Nihon Senryō Keikaku" no Zen Kiroku (黒い手帳 創価学会「日本占領計画」の全記録: "My black notebooks: a complete record of Sōka Gakka's 'Operation Occupy Japan'"). Kodansha, February 2009. ISBN 978-4-06-215272-3. Yano is a former secretary-general of Kōmeitō.
- Yano, Jun'ya: "Kuroi Techō" Saiban Zen Kiroku (「黒い手帳」裁判全記録: "The whole record of the trials concerning 'My black notebooks'"). Kodansha, 7/2009. ISBN 978-4-06-215637-0.
News media (websites)
- "Risky alliance for Japan's ruling party" BBC News report, June 22, 2000
- "The Power of Sōka Gakkai: Growing revelations about the complicated and sinister nexus of politics and religion" Time Magazine, November 20, 1995
- Soka University of America Is A School On A Hill
- "Celebrating in Earnest: Buddhists Mark the Start of a New Year With Joy and a Strong Sense of Purpose" by Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, January 1, 2008
- The Value of a Grandfather Figure by Polly Toynbee, Manchester Guardian/May 19, 1984
- Brian Daizen Victoria, Senior Lecturer Centre for Asian Studies, University of Adelaide, Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?
- Koichi Miyata, Soka University, Department of Humanities “Critical Comments on Brian Victoria's "Engaged Buddhism: A Skeleton in the Closet?"
- Lecture by Levi McLaughlin on SGI, Princeton University
- Dragan Todorovic; Soka Gakkai - Mystery with a Reason?
- Soka Gakkai International
- SOKAnet - Sōka Gakkai's official website (in Japanese)
- Soka Spirit, published by SGI-USA
- Soka Gakkai, published by The World Religions & Spirituality Project (WRSP)