SGI Significant Dates
The Establishment of Nichiren Buddhism
Soka Gakkai Day
Celebrating the History of Soka Gakkai's Antinuclear Movement
SGI World Peace Day
Inscription of the Dai-Gohonzon
Soka Gakkai Founding Day
November 18 - Soka Gakkai Founding Day
November 18, 1930, the day celebrated as Soka Gakkai Founding Day, is the publication date of founding President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s Soka Kyoikugaku Taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education). This publication is the culmination of President Makiguchi’s life’s work on education.
In an age dominated by militarism, President Makiguchi proclaimed that the true aim of education is not the benefit of the nation, but the happiness of the child. Inspired by Nichiren Buddhism and passionately dedicated to the reform of the Japanese education system, he developed his theory of value-creating education in order to realize this goal.
Introducing Value-Creating Education in an educational journal, President Makiguchi wrote:
The solution to society’s contradictions and problems is to be found in a basic transformation in humanity itself, and bringing about this fundamental change in human nature is ultimately the role of education.
[NHR Vol 14, Wisdom and Courage]
As the principal of Shirokane Elementary School, President Makiguchi raised the school's position into one of Tokyo’s top five schools through his tireless efforts. Despite that, it was a time of great adversity for him as he was the target of attacks from bureaucrats, political figures and principals who were envious and resentful of his success.
In order to guide future elementary school teachers in the right direction, President Makiguchi wanted to publish the educational theories that he had developed based on his hands-on experience and thought. His foremost disciple, Josei Toda, did everything he could to assist, from organizing President Makiguchi’s ideas and editing the manuscript to raising fund for the publication. It was through a discussion between President Makiguchi and Toda that the name “Soka”, which literally means “create” and “value”, was conceived.
Formerly known as Soka Kyoiku Gakkai or the Value-Creating Education Society, the group initially consisted of teachers and educators dedicated to educational reform. By late 1930s, President Makiguchi and Toda, began to develop the society from its origin into an organization focusing on the propagation of Buddhism as a means for leading a life of the highest values and greatest good in order to reform society. He conducted discussion meetings in which members talked about the results of their Buddhist faith and practice. The membership of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai increased to some three thousand by the early 1940s.
In wartime Japan, President Makiguchi continued to spread Nichiren Buddhism and its teaching of respect for the dignity of life. Determined to open the eyes of those who had been brainwashed by State Shinto, he conducted more than 240 discussion meetings amid wartime conditions within the 2 years prior to his arrest in 1943, even while under the strict surveillance of the Special Higher Police.
How to enable all people to realize the wonderful potential inherent in their lives — this is the fundamental objective of Nichiren Buddhism and the Soka Gakkai movement. That is why President Makiguchi resolutely struggled against the devilish nature of power that aims to obstruct this endeavor. That is why he boldly remonstrated with the state.
[The World of Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings, Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land Part 2]
Refusing to compromise his beliefs and to obey the orders of the militarist government to accept state Shintoism in support of war, both President Makiguchi and Toda were arrested and imprisoned as “thought criminals” and President Makiguchi died in prison on November 18, 1944.
After his mentor's passing, Mr Toda was determined to continue this shared struggle of mentor and disciple, to share widely President Makiguchi’s ideals of value creation and the profound teachings of Nichiren Buddhism and the Lotus Sutra which it was based on. After his release from prison in 1945, Mr Toda, who later became the second President of Soka Gakkai in 1951, set about rebuilding Soka Gakkai, Value Creation Society, with the aim of empowering and giving hope to ordinary people through the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. President Toda taught that through Buddhist practice and inner-motivated change called “Human Revolution”, all people can change their destiny for the better.
President Toda forged with his own hands, an extensive network of people that set about working to positively influence society and culture for the sake of establishing the correct teaching for peace of the land. By the time of his death in 1958, President Toda had built an organization of nearly one million members and laid the foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan and abroad.
President Ikeda, the disciple of President Toda, followed the noble and solemn path of mentor and disciple and selflessly dedicated himself to fulfill the mentor’s dream of worldwide kosen-rufu. After he was inaugurated as the third president of the Soka Gakkai at the age of 32 in 1960, he set off on his first overseas trip just 5 months later, bringing Nichiren Buddhism to the world. The Soka Gakkai International was later founded in 1975. Today, SGI consists of 12 million members from 192 countries practicing Nichiren Buddhism and actively contributing to the betterment of society.
November 18 becomes the day for SGI members around the world to remind themselves on the principles and ideals that the organization is found on – enabling all human beings to create the highest value in their lives. It is also the day to make fresh determination to share this faith and philosophy to those around them and to work for world peace with the same commitment as the three founding presidents.
New Human Revolution, Volume 23 Chapter 4 Bold Struggle.
Soka Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism, Retrieved from
Josei Toda : Value-Creating Education. Retrieved from http://www.joseitoda.org