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On December 27, 1990, Nikken-[67th], after revising the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu, abruptly dismissed Soka Gakkai Honorary President Daisaku Ikeda, the person most responsible for the promotion of kosen-rufu, as head of all Nichiren Shoshu lay societies. This signified commencement of the priesthood’s so-called Operation C—a plan to “cut” the SGI membership from the Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda.
This plot by Nikken and his cohorts was not the first case where devious priests tried to thwart the Soka Gakkai’s progress and tear apart this precious Buddhist Order.
Around 1978–79, a group of priests named Shoshinkai (correct faith association) capitalized on the Nichiren Shoshu high priest’s authority in order to oppress the Soka Gakkai. These arrogant priests forced the Gakkai to apologize for having produced wooden Gohonzon from Gohonzon scrolls, a doctrinally legitimate action in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. Distorting the words of High Priest Nittatsu so as to misrepresent the Gakkai, these priests claimed that such an act is slanderous. But, for the sake of kosen-rufu, no matter how irrational Nichiren Shoshu’s actions, the Gakkai strove to maintain the harmonious unity of priesthood and laity and dedicated itself with great patience as Nichiren Shoshu continued to enjoy prosperity.
In August 1979, Nikken-[67th] was inaugurated following the sudden death of Nittatsu. The Soka Gakkai committed to Nichiren Shoshu’s prosperity all the more, making enormous offerings. Nikken, however, unconcerned with kosen-rufu, went on to disparage President Ikeda and tried to usurp control of the Soka Gakkai.
Operation C was concocted primarily to oust President Ikeda. An auxiliary purpose was to sway Soka Gakkai members by excommunicating the entire Gakkai organization. The temple thought, by breaking the Gakkai apart, it could put hundreds of thousands of members under its direct control.
Nikken and his cronies preferred formation of a lay organization that was subservient to the priesthood without promoting kosen-rufu along with the spirited Gakkai members who were so strongly dedicated to it. Ultimately, what Nikken tried to gain through Operation C was money. All he and his priesthood wanted was to maintain their extravagant lifestyle and pleasure seeking.
Time and again, to preserve its authority or to save face, the priesthood betrayed the Soka Gakkai. But neither the Shoshinkai’s recriminations nor Nikken’s betrayal was the first case of Nichiren Shoshu denigrating the Gakkai.
Nichiren Shoshu betrayed the Soka Gakkai during World War II. Fearful of the violent storm of the Shinto religion’s national authority, Nichiren Shoshu went along with the Minobu sect and banned dissemination of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, even revising some of his writings. Nichiren Shoshu ordered its lay society the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to accept the government’s Shinto talisman incorporating elements of non-Buddhist teachings. Holding fast to their practice of the true teaching, however, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and General Director Josei Toda refused the priesthood’s order. Fearful that their resistance would bring government persecution, the priesthood banned them from visiting the head temple for not following the directive.
President Makiguchi and other Gakkai leaders were arrested in 1943 for alleged violation of the Security Law and also for the crime of disrespect, as their action to refuse the Shinto talisman was viewed as denying the sanctity of Shinto. In an act of cowardice, Nichiren Shoshu stripped Gakkai members of believer status.
Furthermore, clearly abandoning faith in the supremacy of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren Shoshu ordered branch temples to enshrine Shinto talismans at the priests’ lodging quarters in an attempt to preserve it’s own peace and security while denigrating their own religion.
Some Taiseki-ji buildings were even used to house “volunteer” soldiers forcefully taken from Korea. Shinto talismans were enshrined by Japanese military officers at the Daishoin room [different from the Shoin room] near the high priest’s lodging. In June 1945, the high priest’s quarters and other major structures burned down, and Nikkyo-[62nd] died miserably in the blaze.
|Nikkyo, the 62nd high priest, burned to death in a fire at the head temple.|
Nichiren Shoshu priests did not offer any apology or remorse despite such serious retribution, only seeking to save face and maintain control over the laity.
The tide of kosen-rufu was surely on the rise, however; Mr. Toda was released from prison, miraculously alive, on July 3, 1945, just before the end of the war. His selfless battle to propagate Nichiren Buddhism began, eventually achieving the conversion of 750,000 households.
In April 1952, when the foundation of the Gakkai’s sacred work was being built, Taiseki-ji hosted a grand ceremony to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the founding of Nichiren Buddhism. Jimon Ogasawara—who had contributed to the Soka Gakkai’s persecution while advocating his new theory that “the (Sun Goddess) deity is essential while the Buddha transient,” and who had perverted the doctrines of Nichiren Shoshu—was allowed to visit the head temple at this time. Soka Gakkai youth division members made Ogasawara apologize before President Makiguchi’s grave on Taiseki-ji grounds.
Many Nichiren Shoshu priests, who were spiritually aligned with Ogasawara, took exception to his treatment by the youth and directed their anger at President Toda.
This chapter vividly depicts the evil deeds of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, the “Law-devouring hungry spirits” nestled within the school, amid the flow of Japanese history. At the same time, it shows the significance and necessity of the Soka Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s will and decree.
Through Shintoism, Priesthood Supports War Policy
Almost all Buddhist schools cooperated with the nation, playing a significant role in driving the populace to war all the way until Japan was defeated in August 1945.
Just as other Buddhist schools did, Nichiren Shoshu fell in line behind national Shintoism. It distorted Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching and supported the nation’s war policy. The laws used by the national authority to control the religious world were lèse-majesté [abolished in 1947 under American occupation] and the Security Maintenance Law.
Lèse-majesté was justified in Article 3 of the 1889 Imperial Constitution: “The emperor is sacred and transcendent.” This crime was a violation of Article 74 of the revised 1907 criminal law. Article 74 stipulates the crime of lèse-majesté: “The person who disrespects the emperor, emperor dowager, empress dowager, empress, prince or emperor’s grandchildren shall be imprisoned for more than three months and less than five years.”
The Security Maintenance Law was promulgated in 1925 and first carried a sentence of up to ten years in prison. It was revised through an urgent 1928 imperial order to result in a death sentence or life imprisonment.
Article 1 of the Security Maintenance Law stipulated the following:
Those who have established an organization to reform the national polity or who have played an executive or leadership role in such an organization shall be sentenced to death, or life imprisonment, or five years of hard labor or imprisonment. Those who, sharing the sentiments, joined such an organization or those who took action to carry out the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to no more than two years of hard labor or imprisonment. Those who formed an organization or those who joined such an organization or those who took action to execute the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to less than ten years hard labor or imprisonment.
The Security Law was originally meant for left-wing communists and anarchists. But the law was revised in March 1941 for the third time. With this revision, disrespecting the dignity of the Shinto shrine became a crime. Obviously, it was meant to control all religious schools under the national Shinto, a tool for religious persecution.
Article 7 —Those who formed an organization with the purpose of denying the national polity or disseminating the cause of disparaging the dignity of the Shinto shrine and imperial family or those who played an executive or leadership role in such an organization shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than four years of hard labor. Those who, sharing the sentiments, joined such an organization or took action to execute the purpose of such an organization shall be sentenced to at least one year of hard labor in prison.
Article 8 — Those who formed a group with the aforementioned purpose or those who led such a group shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than three years of hard labor. Those who participated in such a group with the purpose described in the previous article or those who took action to execute the purpose of such a group shall be sentenced to more than one year of hard labor in prison.
Upon entering the Showa Era, Japan went straight into militarization. Crucial events include:
Economic depression, 1927.
Assassination of Zhang Zuolin by explosion, 1928.
Manchurian War breaks out, 1931.
5/15 Incident, 1932, an attempted coup by military officers.
Withdrawal from League of Nations, 1932
2/26 Incident, 1936, another attempted coup by the military.
Sino-Japanese War breaks out, December 1937.
Japan-Germany-Italy form defense treaty, 1937.
Law for the deployment of the entire nation promulgated, 1938.
Japan-Germany-Italy military treaty established, 1940.
Association for the Promotion of Imperial Rule formed, 1940.
Pacific War breaks out, 1941.
As these unfolded, the government intensified its efforts to control religion under national Shintoism. Persecutions ensued one after another.
In 1935, the Ohmoto school religious organization saw 60 leaders arrested and 61 members prosecuted. In 1936, the mass media carried out a purge against Ohmoto, attacking it as a heretical religion and an enemy of the nation. The police bombed the Ohmoto shrine. The government forced the school to sell its 50,000 tsubo [one tsubo equals about four square yards] of property at an extremely low price. Later on, founder, Onihito Deguchi, was arrested in violation of the Security Maintenance Law and sentenced to an indefinite prison sentence.
In 1936, the Hitonomichi religious organization was persecuted with more than 10 leaders arrested. The same year, 106 members of the New Buddhist Youth League were arrested, 29 of whom were prosecuted.
In 1938, 400 members of the Honmichi religious organization were arrested, and 237 were prosecuted. Its founder, Aijiro Ouchi, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1939, the Todaisha organization had 150 arrested, and 52 prosecuted. Junzo Akashi was sentenced to ten years at hard labor.
In 1941, when the Security Maintenance Law was strengthened through revision, new religious organizations as well as Christian churches were persecuted.
In 1942, 134 ministers of the Christian Holiness School were arrested, with 270 churches dissolved.
In 1943, the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai saw 21 people including President Makiguchi arrested for lèse-majesté in an alleged violation of the Security Maintenance Law.
During the war, the national authority relentlessly carried out religious persecution. Only a handful of people persisted in their faith under such severe persecution; the majority chose to compromise their beliefs out of fear of continued government oppression.
Nichiren Shoshu priests, except Renjo Fujimoto (a new priest who ranked third from the bottom), succumbed to pressure from the national authority. Intimidated, Nichiren Shoshu, followed the lead of Nichiren Shu Minobu school in bowing to government pressure.
Censoring of Founder’s Writings Stands Out Among Nichiren Shoshu’s Terrible Acts
Emblematic of the national authority’s pressure upon various Nichiren schools is the deletion of passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings and the allegations of disrespect of the Japanese native gods on the Gohonzon mandala. The national authority demanded deletion of Nichiren’s writings that appeared disrespectful of the emperor and Japanese native gods. Also, the national authority took issue with the Japanese gods being inscribed on the Gohonzon on a rank lower than the Indian Buddha, Shakyamuni.
The Security Bureau of the Internal Ministry initiated the issue of Gosho passage deletion in October 1932. A Japanese company, Ryukinsha, published Nichiren Daishonin Goimon Kogi (Lecture on the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin) in commemoration of the 650th anniversary of Nichiren’s passing. At that time, the Security Bureau ordered this publishing company to delete certain descriptions in “Letter to Shijo Kingo” and “The Three Kinds of Treasure” in its volume 13.
In 1934, the mass media reported that Nichiren’s writings contained disrespectful words. The matter became an issue in Japan when the Security Bureau ordered deletions from Complete Works of Nichiren Shonin, Showa New Version compiled by Yorin Asai and published in April 1934.
To protest, Asai, a professor at Rissho University, wrote a thesis, “Nation and Society As Observed by Nichiren Shonin.”
There cannot be national boundaries in such a global and universal teaching as Buddhism. We are lessening the magnitude of the teaching and limiting the infinite compassion of Nichiren Shonin, who views this threefold world as his responsibility and is compelled to look upon all people as his own children. Should we limit the scope of his vision for salvation to Japan only, a small eastern country? If among our comrades, unfortunately, were those with such an erroneous view, they would actually be engaged in reducing the world’s greatest teaching into a religion for just one nation. How lamentable, especially in view of future propagation of the Lotus Sutra. (from “Nation and Society As Observed by Nichiren Shonin.”)
Nichiren Shu Minobu also took a firm stand against the Security Bureau, refusing to unconditionally accept this governmental order.
As a result, the Security Bureau ordered those responsible in various Nichiren schools to appear at the Internal Ministry.
Nichiren Shu school asked Tokyo University professors Masaharu Anezaki and Saburo Yamada; Lieutenant General Tetsutaro Sato; and Kokuchukai leader Chio Yamakawa to approach the government on this matter. The four negotiated with the Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Education to request withdrawal of the deletion order. The government agreed on condition that the disrespectful-sounding Gosho passages not be used in public documents.
From that point onward, Nichiren Daishonin’s writings were published with parts concerning the emperor or the Japanese native gods blackened out. In 1937, “the issue of disrespect for our nation’s god seen in the inscription of the mandala Gohonzon” came to the surface. That March, Saburo Tokushige, president of the Clergymen’s Association of Hyogo Prefecture, took issue with the location of the Sun Goddess on Nichiren Daishonin’s inscription of the Gohonzon. He even filed a suit in Kobe District Court on this subject as well as on the Shingon school’s theory of “the original entity and ephemeral transiency” [proclaiming the superiority of the emperor over the Buddha] and the Rinzai Zen sect’s particular term for bestowing the precept.
The court threw out the suit, giving the Nichiren schools a break. But the issues of deletion of Gosho passages and disrespect for the Japanese native gods in the inscription of the Gohonzon intensified in Japanese society where only Shintoism was upheld. Nichiren schools bent their beliefs to follow the trend of the times.
As militarism became its major thrust, Japan’s war zones expanded rapidly. In order to involve the entire nation in the war, on August 24, 1937, the government of Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe derived “the guideline for the spiritual deployment of the entire nation.” This policy was implemented by governmental order on September 9.
Around that time, Japan was heading into the quagmire of the Sino-Japanese War through the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident” and “Shanghai War.”
The “guideline for the spiritual deployment of the entire nation” evolved into the Association of the Promotion of Imperial Rule in 1940. A founding ceremony was held at the prime minister’s official residence on October 12. Prime Minister Konoe became its president. A chapter was established in each prefecture, and the governor of each prefecture was appointed as chapter chief.
In March 1941, Nichiren Shu Minobu dissolved its “Movement to Repay Debt of Gratitude to the Nation Through Establishing Correct Faith for the Spiritual Deployment of Entire Nation” and commenced a new movement called “Movement for Repaying Debt of Gratitude to the Nation Through Establishing Correct Faith for the Promotion of Imperial Rule [promoting the emperor].”
In May of that year, the new Nichiren school (a joint school consisting of Minobu, Kenpon Hokke and Honmon Shu) weighed the possible deletion of Gosho passages at the meeting to deliberate over religious fundamentals.
As a result, the new joint Nichiren school officially deleted 280 portions from some 70 writings of Nichiren Daishonin, reporting its decision to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry was not satisfied, however, with this degree of deletion, ordering the school to reconsider the whole thing.
Nichiren Shu chose to compromise on this matter with the adamant Ministry of Education. In August, Nichiren Shu decided to stop the printing of Selected Collection of Nichiren Daishonin’s Original Handwritings (Nichiren Daishonin Shukusatsu Ibun Shu) that had been compiled by Fumimasa Kato, banning its sale and distribution.
At that time, the Nichiren Shu Administrative Office issued “Notice #8,” which reads:
Chief Priests, Temple Chief Secretaries, Teachers, Priests and Lay Believers: We have long been using The Writings of Nichiren Shonin, edited by Fumimasa Kato and published by Unryokaku, as this school’s most fundamental scripture. Passages of his writings, however, are not appropriate in view of the current trend of enhancing the imperial polity, since they were written based upon the ideas of his Kamakura time. Certain portions do not fit the current polity in light of the relation between gods and the Buddha or the argument of what is essential and what is transient. For this reason, we are afraid that some people may misunderstand our Founder’s fundamental view of respect for the imperial family and spirit toward protecting the nation. In light of this, the Administrative Office has acquired the copyright and decided to render it out of print and prohibit distribution. Please make sure that the traditional version of The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin is now banned throughout our school. We are now making a book that collects Nichiren Daishonin’s appropriate writings, for future use.
This we notify.
August 18, 1941
Nichiren Shoshu, too, issued an Administrative Office notice, “Re: The publication of the Gosho,” to all its teachers. The content was virtually the same as the memo from Nichiren Shu. The Administrative Office of Nichiren Shu banned publication of the Gosho on August 18. Following this move, Nichiren Shoshu, too, issued a similar notice of banning Gosho publication.
Furthermore, under the name of its study chief, Nichiren Shoshu announced a decision to delete 14 passages that concern the theory of “entity vs. transiency [superiority of emperor over Buddha—passages that relate to Nichiren protecting the nation diminished the role of the emperor and were deleted].”
Among the deletions was this passage in which Nichiren Daishonin expresses his conviction as the True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law:
I, Nichiren, am the foremost sage in all Jambudvipa. Nevertheless, from the ruler on down to the common people, all have despised and slandered me, attacked me with swords and staves, and even exiled me. That is why Brahma, Shakra, the gods of the sun and moon, and the four heavenly kings have incited a neighboring country to punish our land.” (WND, vol. 1, p. 642)
In April 1944, Nichiren Shu schools jointly decided to delete Gosho portions. Nichiren Shoshu actually predated Nichiren Shu in deleting the Gosho.
Nichiren Shu deleted 135 passages but the Hokke Shu school did not agree with this decision.
Incidentally, two days before its August 24 announcement of Gosho deletions, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office issued a notice of revision of the silent prayers in daily practice. The first prayer would now include appreciation of the successive emperors of Japan, beginning with the Sun Goddess, the origin of the Imperial Family and the First Emperor Jinmu.
Succumbing to the national authority guided by Shintoism, Nichiren Shoshu revised the silent prayers, deleted Gosho passages and banned its publication. Committing these serious sins in faith, Nichiren Shoshu showed its essential loss of belief in Nichiren’s teachings as it bolstered Japan’s movement to spread imperial rule.
Nikkyo Distorts Nichiren Daishonin’s Writings to Promote War Participation
On December 8, 1941 [the 7th in the U.S.], Japan declared war against the United States and Great Britain. Nikkyo Suzuki-[62nd] issued an exhortation to the entire Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and laity, hoping to inspire them to support the Pacific War. The admonition begins:
I am extremely excited about today’s imperial declaration of war against the Unties States and Great Britain. More than four years have already passed since our imperial nation turned to building a new order in East Asia after defeating the violent Chiang Kai-shek government. Our efforts have been bearing fruit to where we can see increasing solidarity and shared prosperity among Japan, Manchuria and China. Contrary to this, America and Great Britain have been consistent in supporting the Chongqing government, provoking it to fight against Japan . . .
Nikkyo then articulates the necessity of this war:
Fortunately, our imperial nation is equipped with an unparalleled, obedient and brave army and navy under the dignified light of the emperor. We cannot appreciate enough their astonishing accomplishment even on the first day of the war . . . Judging from the conditions surrounding this war, however, it seems unavoidable that we will continue to fight for a long period of time. Therefore, we must be deeply resolved to persevere . . .
Here, Nikkyo urges both priesthood and laity to ready themselves for a long war. He concludes:
So, all of us priests and believers of this school, upholding the sacred idea of the emperor, should base ourselves upon the last will of our Founder. We should strengthen the faith and practice we have been forging, persevere with fortitude to overcome all obstacles to the best of our ability, and thus win without fail in this unprecedented war. This, I exhort you.
Nikkyo thus used even Nichiren’s teachings to justify the war. The January 1942 issue of Dai-Nichiren, the Nichiren Shoshu organ, conveys the nation’s excitement over the Pacific War. Kocho Kakinuma’s intense article “Heralding New Year’s Day Morning Brilliantly Through Reading the Imperial Declaration of War” reads:
Behold! A sacred fire at last flared up in a corner of Asia for the liberation of the people of East Asia. Centuries-old shackles by Great Britain and America were finally severed by the sacred sword of our Japanese comrades. The chains of Great Britain and America that have firmly bound 1 billion people in Asia have now been beautifully cut by the swords of our sacred soldiers.
Kakinuma uses Nichiren Daishonin’s writings to fuel people’s desire to participate in the war:
We are the disciples of the Daishonin who were given by the former emperor the framed characters of rissho. We belong to the school of the Founder who states: ‘I, Nichiren, am the most loyal subject in all of Japan. I do not believe that there has ever been, nor ever will be, anyone who can equal me in this respect’ (WND, vol. 1, p. 1007). We are disciples and believers admonished by the Daishonin before the battles of Bun’ei and Koan [with the Mongols]: ‘Do not let concern for wife and children or other family members deter you. Do not fear those in authority’ (WND, vol. 2, p. 333).
This Dai-Nichiren issue also contains Chief Administrator Nikkyo Suzuki’s “Joyful Greetings for New Year’s Day,” which shows how Nichiren Shoshu functioned as an agent of the national intention to drive people to support the war:
The people who do not take arms, whether old or young and whether men or women, should also consider themselves soldiers devoted to the holy war. They should not become drunk in victory. With victory, we should be ready for another victory. With the spirit of fortitude and iron-like unity, each of you should protect the place of your individual assignment. I earnestly pray that—arousing your courageous and fighting spirit and redoubling your faith—you will uphold the imperial order and carry on your ultimate sincerity to repay your debt of gratitude to this nation. Myo represents “death,” and ho, “life.” In this regard, myo means “one world” while ho, “the origin of boundless heaven.” By realizing “one world,” we can fulfill the purpose of our founder’s advent, in the spirit of “The world means Japan,” through our total commitment to repaying our debt of gratitude to the nation.
Jimon Ogaswara Aims at Controlling Nichiren Shoshu With New Theory
While Nichiren Shoshu supported the war, Jimon Ogasawara, a high-ranking priest, was advocating a new theory that placed Shintoism above Nichiren Buddhism.
Ogasawara wrote to Nikkyo about “Deity [emperor] Is Essential While Buddha Transient,” a subject Nikkyo couldn’t easily address. Ogasawara was trying to entrap Nikkyo into disparaging the Japanese native god. Ogasawara was plotting to control Nichiren Shoshu by having Nikkyo deposed.
Ogasawara’s attack on Nikkyo and the retired Nichikai through Nichiren of the World, a monthly magazine published under Ogasawara’s auspices, reflected the internal strife Nichiren Shoshu was undergoing.
Behind this dispute was a grudge over an ugly battle between the Nichikai Abe and Koga Arimoto groups in the 1928 chief administrator election.
Ogasawara had sided with Abe in the coup against Nitchu-[58th]. For this election, however, he aligned with Arimoto group, plotting against Abe, who won. This landed Ogasawara outside the temple mainstream. Nursing a grudge, he continuously worked to disrupt Nichiren Shoshu. Also lurking in the background were many years of hostility between the Renyo-an and Fujimi-an groups.
Ogasawara was connected with both military and political leaders, and he persisted in his scheme. He was ultimately expelled from Nichiren Shoshu on September 14, 1942, via an order issued by Administrative Office General Administrator Jiryu Nogi. Ogasawara’s ousting became possible with support from Study Chief Taiei Horigome (who became Nichijun-[65th]).
Even though Ogaswara was expelled, his erroneous theory of “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient” remained intact within Nichiren Shoshu. An internal document reads:
Special Notice: #31
To Nichiren Shoshu Odawara Temple Chief Priest Jimon Ogasawara
In accordance with Article 391 of the Rules of this school, and with approval from the chief administrator, you are hereby reprimanded. Attached here is a document of declaration of this decision.
September 14, 1942
General Administrator of Administrative Office of Nichiren Shoshu
A Document of Declaration
To: Jimon Ogasawara, in the Position of daisozu, chief priest of Odawara Temple
Ruling: We declare your expulsion from this school.
Reason: First, you refused to pay the annual assignment fee to Nichiren Shoshu from 1932 to 1942.
Second, you self-righteously abused the position of propagation director, even though it was no longer your responsibility.
Third, through Special Notice #5, issued July 30, 1941, we instructed all priests and believers to correct the improper expressions of our past publications, but you extracted such inappropriate expressions and used lay believers to publicize them.
Your actions obviously go against the Rules of this school. Specifically, the first action is in violation of Point 5 of Article 389 of the Rules. The second action violates Point 3 of the same article. The third action, even though it is not referred to in the Rules, shows that you did not follow Administrative Office direction. Not only that, you did not cooperate with the school’s efforts to renovate its study movement. Your actions intentionally disturb the security of this school. Hence, your behavior must be reprimanded most severely.
Therefore, as mentioned in the sentence, you are now expelled from this school.
September 15, 1942
Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu
In response, Ogasawara insisted that Nichiren Shoshu’s decision to expel him was invalid since the counselors meeting could not be officially held without a quorum. Ogasawara also ridiculed the Nichiren Shoshu Administration’s position:
I heard that the decision to expel me was made on the night of September 12. It is indeed mystic that a resolution was made on the same night as the Tatsunokuchi Persecution. As Nichiren Daishonin wrote, “What greater joy could there be?” I share his joy. . . At the time of the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, there was no deliberation at all. My expulsion came with no hearing, either. It was indeed a strange decision” (Nichiren of the World, November 1942).
Moreover, in Nichiren of the World, Ogasawara attributes the fundamental reason for his banishment to his theory of “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient.”
I was terminated because of the three allegations in the document of declaration. But their true reason for expelling me lies elsewhere. It was written in the letter I received last year from Chief Administrator Suzuki. In it, he referred to his position that my theory of Deity’s being essential breaks from the Nichiren Shoshu tradition in which the Buddha is essential, and that therefore my theory is intolerable. However, how do they solve the problem, based upon their theory of the Buddha’s being essential, that the Japanese deities are inscribed in the Dai-mandala. (I will write about another article about this point.) In the meantime, stubborn and obsolete as they are, they proposed time and again that they should expel me while negating my theory. As a result of the explosion over Mr. Suzuki’s message, my expulsion took place” (Nichiren of the World, November 1942).
In those days, Ogasawara was attempting to seize control of Nichiren Shoshu through his “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient” theory. The Nichiren Shoshu Administration upheld the school’s traditional teaching, disregarding Ogasawara’s erroneous ideas. Soon after, however, Nichiren Shoshu took one action after another justifying Ogasawara’s theory.
Nichiren Shoshu Orders Worship Of Ise Shrine
Although Ogasawara, with his erroneous “Deity Is Essential While Buddha Transient,” was excommunicated, as mentioned before, Nichiren Shoshu had relinquished religious integrity by banning Gosho publication and agreeing to delete Gosho passages in 1941. We can gather from these facts, that it would only be a matter of time before Nichiren Shoshu fell under of Ogasawara’s slanderous influence.
The Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office went on to issue an order to worship the Ise Shrine:
October 10, 1942
From Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office
To All Chief Priests and Teachers
We have received from the Ministry of Education chief secretary the following order through Official Notice #334. Please make sure you understand its intention and that all members and believers also understand it.
Official Notice #334
Signed by Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Education
To Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator
Re: Worshipping Ise Shrine During Harvest Festival
Through Official Notice #378 last October 8, we notified about setting time to worship the Ise Shrine during its harvest ceremony. It is becoming urgently necessary to teach the meaning of the harvest ceremony at this time of war. Please make sure that all your school staff worships the Ise Shrine at 10 a.m. on the harvest ceremony day.
Nichiren Shoshu issued such a notice only a month after excommunicating Ogasawara. This shows that he was expelled over a factional dispute, not to protect doctrinal integrity. In fact, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office ordered the entire priesthood and laity to worship the Ise Shrine.
Each October 17, the Kanna Festival of harvest is celebrated at Ise Shrine. It is a vital national Shinto event that was designated as an official imperial celebration in 1869. At the Imperial Court, the emperor—the living god—worships the Ise Shrine. A festival is held at one of three court palaces. Promoting the significance of these Shinto events among priests and lay believers signifies Nichiren Shoshu’s support to propagating Shinto teachings. The Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office ordered its priests to involve lay believers in Ise Shrine worship at 10 a.m. on October 17.
About a month earlier, on September 18, 1942, Taiseki-ji conducted a memorial for Nichikan. Dai-Nichiren reports on the head temple’s condition during wartime Japan:
There is a picture hung at the entrance of the Ever-Chanting Hall. It depicts a tiger roaring under the full moon. The artist is the Rev. Judo Omura of the Hyakkan-bo lodging. Seeing this dauntless picture, our fighting spirit overflows with conviction to defeat America and Great Britain. Both sides of the pathway to the Ever-Chanting Hall were adorned with senryu poems he had composed vibrantly from his heart. His words, pictures and exhortations were excellent materials guiding pilgrims to joyfully grasp the times in which we now live. Here are some of the Rev. Omura’s poems.
“Prime Minister Tojo”
With a humanistic prime minister,
The nation is now engaged
Squarely in a long-term battle.
“Family That Sends a Member to War”
We are firmly protecting our family
While our father is gone.
Everything is fine.
“At the War Front”
I take a look at
The photo of my child
In the moonlit night.
“Savoring a Few Billion Yen”
This much power.
These security notes,
Which are worth a lot,
Are capable of
Crushing America and Great Britain.
When the Rev. Jinin Ochiai began a sermon at the Ever-Chanting Hall, only a little more than ten people were there to listen. But his words, which were so eloquent since he himself had been to actual battlefields, attracted more people until the hall filled to capacity. Through his address, those gathered could discern the condition of the times, for which I deeply appreciate the Rev. Ochiai” (Dai-Nichiren, November 1942).”
Through this lengthy quote, we can vividly see how aggressively Nichiren Shoshu supported “The Movement To Promote the Total Participation of the Entire Nation” to carry out the war.
Later, on November 19, 1942, a Nichiren Shoshu body was formed to “repay the debt of gratitude to the nation”; in other words, to prompt the people to participate in the war. Similar bodies were formed in each Buddhist sect under the umbrella of the Association to Promote the Rule by the Imperial Family. A formation meeting for this body was held at a large room of the Reception Hall. The agenda:
Worshipping the Imperial Palace
Singing the national anthem
Prayer and appreciation
Reading the imperial message
Reciting the sutra and chanting daimoku
Words by Association to Promote Ruling by the Imperial Family president
Conferral of national flag
Words by the of Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan (body for repayment of debts of gratitude to the nation) president
Progress report of Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan
Noteworthy in this agenda is the worship of the Imperial Palace and the reading of the emperor’s message. According to the rules of this body, its headquarters is placed at the Administrative Office. Each regional organization had a headquarters at the Administrative Office branch office. The Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator was appointed president. According to the Rules, the Hokoku-dan describes its purpose thusly:
This body, carrying on the sacred intention of the emperor to build our nation, is formed to fulfill our debt of gratitude to the nation with our united dedication and efforts to overcoming all hardships of the times.
The Rules also stipulate the Hokoku-dan membership:
This body shall consist of the priests, temple members and lay believers of this school. All shall belong to this body.
The 1943 Hokoku-dan goals were:
Acquiring monetary donations and funds to purchase warplanes.
Visiting wounded soldiers and bestowing gifts for their comfort
Projects to develop Asia
Labor to repay our debt of gratitude to the nation
Nurturing lay believers
Building emergency facilities
Promoting various projects for society
The national government, with the “living god” at the top of its Shinto-based system, ordered the various Buddhist schools to provide money, materials and people in service to the war. Nichiren Shoshu naturally assented to this. The personnel of the Hokoku-dan were announced that December 8. Shodo Sakio, vice general administrator, became its chief. Jikai Watanabe, general affairs bureau chief, became vice chief.
Under Shinto Influence, Nichiren Shoshu Expels Soka Kyoiku Gakkai Leaders
|Nikkyo, the 62nd high priest, praised the emperor for visiting the Ise Shrine to pray for victory in the war.|
Here is part of Nikkyo-[62nd]’s prayer document at the ceremony establishing the 7th regional body in Nagoya:
The current [war] is an unprecedented war that will determine the rise or fall of our imperial nation. Through this war, we are trying to rid ourselves of the disastrous influence of America and Great Britain and accomplish mutual cooperation and prosperity in Great East Asia. Indeed, this war is unavoidable for the security and defense of the whole area. We often receive reports of our faithful and brave imperial military’s courageous battles, but America and Great Britain are tenaciously planning a major strike to attack us using their abundant resources. Our Majesty (the emperor) was compassionate enough to visit and worship at the Ise Shrine last winter, on December 12. We, the people of Japan, as his honored children, are most excited about his visit to the shrine.
Some soldiers, who are willing to give their lives, wish to be dispatched again to battlefields even though they are not yet in robust physical condition. This is how committed they are, and those staying behind are also dedicated to producing war materials and perfecting the transportation system. They work unsparingly to increase the production of these materials. They waste no time in this endeavor. They support the families of deceased soldiers. And they dedicate those soldiers’ lives to the shrine with ultimate respect. Accordingly, the spirit of the people is extremely high and healthy.
Nikkyo expresses his excitement and gratitude over the emperor’s visit to Ise Shrine. He also evaluates the government act to dedicate war victims to the Yasukuni Shrine. These actions are clearly opposite Nichiren Daishonin’s spirit. The document ends:
I pray that our Founder will lend us inconspicuous support and also benefit us conspicuously, thus helping this Hokoku-dan to fulfill its great religious mission to repay the debt of gratitude to the nation. I also pray that, as the sutra states, “All others who bear you enmity or malice will likewise be wiped out. All sickness will disappear, effecting no aging and no death.’ Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Nikkyo also praised the emperor’s pilgrimage to Ise Shrine:
With due reverence, we have heard that the sacred entourage journeyed to Ise Shrine to pray for the enhancement of the power of the nation. We feel most humbled. We are now at the time when all followers of our school should arouse their valiant and courageous spirit to devote themselves to repaying our debt of gratitude to our nation. We should now thus give peace of mind to our sacred emperor and work to eternalize the Law among the people.
With Hokoku-dan formation meetings held one after another in each region of Japan, priests and lay believers were directed by Nikkyo to support the war in the name of Nichiren Buddhism.
|A military festival at the Yasukuni Shrine.|
Judging from Nichiren Shoshu’s condition in those days, we can easily imagine how its Administration felt toward the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, which had refused the talisman from the national Ise Shrine.
Nichiren Shoshu called on Gakkai leaders to visit Taiseki-ji. With Nikkyo and retired high priest Nichiko, in attendance, General Affairs Bureau Director Jikai Watanabe suggested to the Gakkai leaders, “Why don’t you order your members to accept the talisman?” (“The History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai,” by Josei Toda).
Upholding Nichiren Buddhism, however, President Makiguchi rejected Nichiren Shoshu’s suggestion. Later on, Mr. Makiguchi revisited Taiseki-ji, asserted to Nikkyo at the high priest’s lodging that accepting the Shinto talisman would be a serious doctrinal error. From then on, Nichiren Shoshu banned Gakkai leaders from Taiseki-ji, afraid their influence would affect the priesthood.
Soon after, on July 6, Mr. Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda where he was propagating Nichiren Buddhism. Mr. Toda was arrested, too, in Tokyo.
|Rendai-ji area in Shimoda on Izu Peninsula where Makiguchi held discussion meetings.|
Some 21 Gakkai leaders were arrested during this governmental oppression. On November 18, 1944, Mr. Makiguchi died in prison. General Director Toda was jailed for two years, until July 3, 1945, only a few days before the end of the war. On June 16, 1943 just before oppression of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai got under way, Renjo Fujimoto, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, had been arrested for “lèse-majesté and causing confusion among the people.”
|The Kishi residence where Makiguchi was arrested.|
|Suzaki Road where Makiguchi walked handcuffed after his arrest.|
|Shimoda police station where Makiguchi was imprisoned.|
|Tokyo prison where Makiguchi and toda were detained.|
|The second floor hallway of Tokyo prison.|
In summer 1943, Nichiren Shoshu was astonished when the government arrested a priest of the school. To escape governmental pressure, the school expelled Fujimoto and deprived him legally of his priest status. Nichiren Shoshu also rescinded the official lay believer status of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders, including Mr. Makiguchi.
Holding summer teacher-training sessions August 21–22 and August 25–26, Nichiren Shoshu ensured that all temples would enshrine Shinto talismans at their respective temple lodging quarters.
Nikkyo Issues Shinto Shrine Visit Instructions
That September 13, the Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office sent notice to each regional chief regarding “The Outline for the Plan to Strengthen Support for the Military.”
The movement’s purpose was described as follows:
In view of the severe and serious situation, it is now time for all the people of Japan to devote themselves to carrying out this Great East Asia war with total unity. We now carry out this movement to strengthen the support of our military by enhancing the fighting spirit of the people. Through these efforts, we strive to increase the nation’s military power, enabling our front-line soldiers to remain confident of our continued support. We are determined to reply to the emperor’s sacred intent by strengthening our military support. (Dai-Nichiren, October 1943)
Concerning this primary purpose—to enhance the will to do battle—the notice reads:
The purpose of this movement lies in our efforts to arouse our traditional spirit of the past 3,000 years while embracing the sacred intent of the Imperial Order. It also lies in our endeavor to further strengthen the fighting spirit of those who remain behind, to enhance the spirit of protecting our military based upon our nation’s polity, and to inspire our soldiers fighting on the front lines.
The strengthening of military force and protective support are also cited. Nichiren Shoshu carried out this wartime promotion throughout the school.
That November, the Administrative Office issued another notice instructing all priests and lay believers to pay their respects at Shinto shrines:
To all priests and believers of this school:
November 1, 1943
From: Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office
Re: Congratulatory ceremonies celebrating the Meiji emperor’s birthday
Through these ceremonies, we will celebrate the birth of the Meiji Emperor and recall his outstanding achievements with our utmost respect for his sacred virtues. Also, through this celebration, we will strengthen our resolve in these severe and serious times to win the war no matter what and exert our utmost to increase the national military power. We will continue our dedication to accomplish victory in this sacred war in appreciation for those predecessors devoted to the spread of imperial power.
- Practical Matters
Time will be set aside at 9 a.m. on November 3 for a celebration by the entire nation of the Meiji Emperor’s birthday . . . Radio will simultaneously broadcast this national celebration.
(1) Each family is ordered to worship the Imperial Palace at the time of this national celebration.
(2) All governmental offices, schools, companies, factories and organizations must conduct a celebratory ceremony, offering prayers for war victory.
(3) National and other shrines will conduct ceremonies to celebrate the Meiji Emperor’s birthday, and therefore, all citizens of each city, town and village must also worship at their local shrines and pray for war victory.
Each individual of the nation must keep in mind this time of celebration of the Meiji Emperor’s birthday and, in sync with the celebration, wherever they are, worship the Imperial Palace.
On November 9 and 10, Nichiren Daishonin’s eternal enlightenment was celebrated. Each ceremony contained a war-promotion event.
“A general audience gokaihi ceremony to enhance the dignity of the nation, to eternalize the fortune of our Imperial army, and to pray for the recovery of the wounded soldiers” was conducted at the reception hall at 2 p.m. on November 9. “A sermon by the high priest and a Nichiren Shoshu Hokoku-dan grand lecture meeting” was conducted at 8 p.m. at the Mieido. The following day, “a ceremony to pray for the repose of those soldiers who lost their lives in the cause of the Great Asia War and also to pray for all other desires” was conducted at 2 p.m. at the reception hall. “A Gosho lecture and a grand lecture meeting for the enhancement of the resolute spirit for the war and the propagation of the teaching of this school” was held at the Mieido at 7 p.m.
Thus far, we have seen how Nichiren Shoshu supported the war by encouraging the priesthood and laity to support national Shintoism. But Nichiren Shoshu lent material support to the war as well. We cannot overlook the fact that Taiseki-ji offered its buildings, Buddhist goods and trees for the war.
Nichiren Shoshu’s The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School (published by Fuji Academy) describes how “Taiseki-ji became a location for the lodging and training of laborers to respond to a request from Shizuoka Prefecture.”
Training was done over a short period. The first class was completed on July 9. The second class started immediately the following day. Senior priests lectured to the trainees. In this way, Taiseki-ji was used as a site for national mobilization. The August 1943 Dai-Nichiren reports:
At this time when temples are requested to open their grounds and facilities for the war, it is most timely for us to respond to the needs of the nation by using our temples as a site for the training of the people of this nation.
In January 1944, gigantic trees that had towered over the Taiseki-ji grounds were supplied for military purpose. A Dai-Nichiren article reports:
We openly supply the excellent lumber of our sacred grounds for building ships to attack America and Great Britain. Such efforts are in tune with our Founder’s wish for the pacification of the nation based upon correct faith and also meant to contribute to the cause of the imperial government. The old cedar trees and this large bell, which had always been as if listening to the sound of the Mystic Law and carrying on the divine vibration of this school, were supplied to meet the emergency of our Imperial nation. Once they become part of a warship, they will swiftly carry the military resources of our Imperial forces. When they take on the heart of our Founder, they will become the arrows and bullets that will pierce the hearts of our enemies. If so, these old cedar trees are great bodhisattvas that will promote the natural rhythm of our sacred war and fulfill their original mission.
Korean Volunteer Army agricultural corps members were stationed at the priesthood’s lodging quarters in December 1944.
Though called a “volunteer” army, these soldiers were essentially forced into mobilization from Korea, which had been colonized by Japan. They were forcefully deployed to engage in physical labor by Japanese military order. The priesthood’s lodging quarters thus housed the Korean Volunteer Army, and a Shinto talisman was put up in the Daishoin room near the high priest’s lodging. Nikkyo later died miserably in a fire in his bedroom adjacent to the Daishoin room.
This chapter dealing with Nichiren Shoshu’s war cooperation, must include the following about Nikkyo-[62nd] continually giving believers strange posthumous names intended to inspire their enthusiasm for the war. In other words, Nikkyo took advantage of the deaths of sincere believes to arouse people’s will to fight. This is an unparalleled religious crime for a Nichiren Shoshu high priest.
Here are examples of special posthumous names, including the title of Nichi, given by Nikkyo:
Churyo-in Kensho Nichizen (Chu means “obedience”), Gachu-in Hokoku Nichimei (Hokoku means “repaying a debt of gratitude to the nation”) and Gunyu-in Taigyo Nippo (Gunyu means “military courage”) (Dai-Nichiren, June 7, 1943).
Junkoku-in Kensho Nichigi (Junkoku means “dying for the nation”), Churetsu-in Tosen Nichidai (Churetsu means “vehement obedience”), Yushin-in Gokoku Nichijun (Yushin means “courageous advancement”; Gokoku, “protecting the nation”; and jun, “martyrdom”), Kenchu-in Bintatsu Nissei (Kenchu means “firm obedience”; sei, “conquering”), and Daichu-in Shuko Nichikan (Daichu means “great obedience”; kan, “fleet”) (Dai-Nichiren, July 7, 1943).
Kosen-in Shodo Nissen (Sen means “war”). Twenty-eight more such military posthumous names are introduced in this issue. (Dai-Nichiren, August 7, 1943).
Incarceration of Makiguchi and Toda
Branch Temples Ordered to Enshrine Talisman
In June 1943, when the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai refused Nichiren Shoshu’s order to accept the Shinto talisman, the Gakkai began to be persecuted openly by the government for violating the Security Law and for lèse-majesté. Its leaders were arrested.
On June 29, Director Katsuji Arimura and Tadao Jinno, Nakano Chapter chief, were the first from the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to be arrested. They were both detained at Yodobashi Police Station.
On July 6, President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda, Izu, where he’d been engaged in Nichiren Buddhism propagation. He was detained at Shimoda Police Station and sent to the station the following day. General Director Jogai (his original first name) Toda was also arrested on July 6. He was detained at Takanawa Police Station. Mr. Toda, too, was later kept at the police station.
On July 6, Inosuke Inaba and Shohei Yajima, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai directors, were arrested in Tokyo.
Detailed preparations had seemingly been made to arrest the Gakkai leaders, as President Makiguchi was arrested in Shimoda, Izu, and all central leaders were arrested almost at the same time.
The arrest of Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno on June 29, should be regarded as a harbinger of the ensuing arrest of President Makiguchi and General Director Toda. A weeklong investigation of Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno alone could not have resulted in the arrest of all central Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders. Thorough plans to arrest the top leaders had surely been under way for a long time.
In fact, Honma Naoshiro, a Gakkai director who was also executive director of Peace Food, Co. Ltd., which Mr. Toda owned, and one other person were arrested for a separate crime, allegedly violating the Economy Regulation Law. This happened in April 1943 when government oppression of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was intensifying.
Persecution of Gakkai leaders continued. On July 20, Vice General Director Tatsuji Nojima, Director Yozo Terasaka, Director Takeo Kamio, Director Shikaji Kinoshita and Administrator Takashi Katayama were arrested, with more taken in after July 1943. In all, 21 leaders were arrested by March 1944.
The lay Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was not alone in being persecuted by the national authority. Renjo Fujimoto, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, had been arrested for lèse-majesté and other violations on June 16 just before Mr. Arimura and Mr. Jinno were arrested.
Fujimoto had joined Nichiren Shoshu around 1927. He became a priest in 1941. Yukio Takashio, his follower, was arrested at the same time as Fujimoto, but Takashio quickly renounced his belief and escaped prosecution. As a result, Fujimoto alone was prosecuted on September 22.
Disturbed and intimidated by the news of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai leaders’ arrest, Nichiren Shoshu expelled them from laity status. Nichiren Shoshu also expelled Renjo Fujimoto, depriving him of priesthood status. Fujimoto died on January 10, 1944, in the deathly cold Nagano Prison.
In late August, when police zeroed in on priesthood and laity, Nichiren Shoshu, holding a training meeting for its teachers, ordered all branch temple chief priests’ to enshrine the Shinto talisman in their respective temple lodging quarters.
Nichiren Shoshu thus attempted to escape oppression by succumbing to national Shintoism and abandoning those who chose to follow Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching. Nichiren Shoshu executive priests took these actions simply out of fear of being arrested.
Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were sent to the Tokyo Prison in Sugamo (then, Sugamo Prison) via the police station. This was where Class A thought criminals were detained during World War II.
The two were kept separately in a section consisting of solitary cells where political and thought criminals were detained. This was located far west of the Tokyo Prison.
Police investigations were extremely cruel. The convicted were treated as non-Japanese. Family members also had a hard time. Application of law was inconsistent, and there was no knowing when one would be released from prison. Some died in jail from malnutrition, starvation or exposure.
Makiguchi Remonstrates With Nation From Prison
The Makiguchi Investigation Record depicts how he fared during the procedure. When interrogated by the prosecutor, President Makiguchi defended the righteousness of Nichiren Buddhism and resolutely remonstrated with the nation even from prison.
Here is part of the Preliminary Investigation Record, from the August 1943 issue of Toko Geppo, a secret publication of the Special High Police.
President Makiguchi, when questioned about the removal of the slanderous objects of worship including the Shinto talisman, responded naturally to the preliminary prosecutor. But he was, in fact, remonstrating with the nation at the risk of his life. The content of his answers obviously violate the Security Law, which carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty. Even knowing that, President Makiguchi remonstrated:
What we encourage our members to do is dispose of and burn the talisman of the Sun Goddess issued by the Ise Shrine that the nation urges all communities, organizations and people to enshrine and worship; other talismans and amulets issued by the Meiji Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, Katori and Kashima Shrines and other shrines; home shrines that house these talismans; altars where Buddhist objects of worship other than those of Nichiren Shoshu, and religious objects of worship such as Kojin, Inari and Fudo kept at one’s residence.
The Sun Goddess talisman, especially, is enshrined and worshipped by every family, and therefore, it is the primary object we encourage our members to dispose of. The reason we get rid of them is that to enshrine an object of worship other than the Gohonzon of Nichiren Shoshu confuses our faith in the Gohonzon and thereby such an act becomes slanderous. Also, enshrining the Sun Goddess talisman and worshipping it are, as I have said, acts of slandering the Gohonzon, and therefore, we dispose of it.
And of course, visiting such shrines and temples are slanderous acts in Nichiren Buddhism. Therefore, we encourage our members not to visit such locations since slandering Buddhism will invite serious punishment. We guide them not to commit this type of slander.
In response to the prosecutor’s question, “In view of the truth of the Lotus Sutra, is the nation of Japan a society in the defiled age of the Latter Day?” Mr. Makiguchi stated:
The first thousand years after Shakyamuni’s death is called the Former Day. The next thousand is called the Middle Day. And what follows the Former and Middle Days is the Latter Day of the Law, which is defiled and mixed-up and where the Lotus Sutra declines and is discarded.
President Makiguchi asserts that Japanese society is showing the plight of the Latter Day rather than the respectable land of god it should be. He also insists, based upon Nichiren’s view of human history in his “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land” (Rissho Ankoku Ron), that the nation will perish should it overlook the decline of the Lotus Sutra:
The nation will see internal strife, revolution, famine, epidemics and other disasters and eventually perish. National calamities such as these actually happened in the past. I am convinced that even the current Sino-Japanese and Great East Asia wars are taking place fundamentally because ours is a slanderous country.
With Japan engaged in a holy war in the name of the emperor, the living god, Mr. Makiguchi insisted it was a form of disaster as Japan was ignoring Nichiren’s teachings. In saying this while in prison, his courage was supreme. Such a statement under those circumstances could mean eventual death. Indeed, his was the roar of a lion king carrying on the shakubuku spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, True Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law.
In Oneness With Mentor, Mr. Toda Stands Up Against National Authority
General Director Toda retreated not even a step, as, holding to Nichiren Buddhism and recalling his mentor, Mr. Makiguchi, he resolutely faced investigations in prison. There, he devoted himself to chanting daimoku while reading Nichiren Daishonin writings and the Lotus Sutra.
Here are some of the letters Mr. Toda wrote from prison detailing life in his cell:
From a February 8, 1944, letter to his wife:
I was spiritually struck on January 10. Since then, I became healthy and gained some weight. My body warmed up. This experience has trained me physically and spiritually. I will return home with body and mind in excellent shape.
From a February 23, 1944, letter:
Please borrow the Gosho from somebody. Please bring juzu beads for me. Please also borrow lecture books on the Lotus Sutra from the Rev. Senju or the Rev. Horigome for me.
From a September 6, 1944, letter to his wife:
Don’t doubt our protection by the heavenly gods, the Buddha and benevolent deities. We will definitely be protected. You should not despair over not leading a peaceful and secure existence. True peace stems from pure faith. For sure, you will find yourself in absolute peace and security. Put priority on faith. Hold fast to faith especially for the sake of our children. Parents should never abandon their faith.
From a September 6, 1944, letter to his son:
You still won’t be able to see your father for a while, but let’s make a promise to each other. Every morning at a time convenient for you, face the Gohonzon and chant daimoku 100 times. At the same time, I, too, will chant 100 times. As we do this, we’ll communicate with one another through our minds as if through wireless radio communication. We can even talk to each other in this way. Let’s establish this rule between us as son and father. You can involve your mother, grandfather and grandmother as well. It’s all up to you. Please let me know the time you would choose.
His persistence in faith is amazing and impressive, as evidenced by this September 1945 letter to his sister’s husband, just a few months after his release.
. . . [I] was released from the prison in the evening of July 3. Accompanying my mentor, Mr. Makiguchi, I became involved with him in a case of persecution based on the Lotus Sutra, which resulted in my training myself in a solitary cell and going through indescribable hardships. Thanks to this experience, I can read the Lotus Sutra physically, through my actual experiences. Fathoming the depths of the Buddhist scripture, I finally saw the Buddha and knew the Law. In my life, modern science and the Law discovered by Sage Nichiren matched beautifully, and I have acquired an ultimate way to save Japan and the Orient . . . The persecution I encountered because of my faith in the Lotus Sutra, then, can be explained by the following phrase of the Lotus Sutra, “(Those persons who heard the Law) and dwelt here and there in various Buddha lands are constantly reborn in company with their teacher.”
All I did was fulfill the rule, valid since billions of years ago, that both mentor and disciple are born at the same time, lifetime after lifetime, thanks to the power of the Lotus Sutra, in order to live its heart together.
Mr. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and I are not just mentor and disciple limited to this lifetime alone. When I am the mentor, Mr. Makiguchi becomes my disciple, and when he is the mentor, I am his disciple. We were together in the past and will be in the future as well. You, as my elder brother, may feel I am just talking about a fantasy. You may even ridicule me, thinking I have lost my mind to the Lotus Sutra.
From this, we can be sure there is unfathomable meaning in the Soka Gakkai’s appearance.
Era of Kosen-rufu Opened Through the Selfless Battle of Makiguchi and Toda
A memorial service for the third anniversary of the passing of Mr. Makiguchi was held at Kyoiku Kaikan in Kanda, Tokyo, on November 17, 1946. Between 500 and 600 people attended. On that occasion, recalling his mentor, President Toda said:
Sensei, I remember it was September 9, 1943, when they took you from the police station to Sugamo Prison. It was the last time I was ever to see you. All I could say was, “Take care, Sensei.”
You made no reply, only nodded; but in your eyes, I sensed your boundless mercy and courage.
Soon after, I followed you to prison. You were old, and I chanted night and day to the Gohonzon that they’d release you as soon as possible. Perhaps my faith was lacking, or more likely, it was the Buddha’s infinite wisdom, but on January 8, 1945, I learned from the interrogator that you had returned to Eagle Peak. How can I describe my grief and loneliness? I had lost the staff I leaned on and the lantern that guided my feet. Night after night, I remembered you as tears streamed down my face.
Out of your infinite mercy, you allowed me to accompany you to prison. The Lotus Sutra states: “Those persons who had heard the Law dwelled here and there in various Buddha lands, constantly reborn in company with their teachers.” I feel that I truly share an eternal bond with you. Through this blessing, I came to understand the original mission of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth and to realize, even vaguely, the meaning of the Lotus Sutra. What immense fortune for me!
When the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was at its height before the war, I avoided becoming your successor. In many ways, I sought to avoid my responsibility. I was not worthy to be your disciple. Please forgive me. Unworthy as I am, during my two years of suffering in prison, I resolved to give my life for kosen-rufu. Please, look at me. Despite my lack of understanding and ability, I am determined to follow your will and fulfill the mission of the Gakkai so that I may deserve your praise when I see you again at Eagle Peak.
Your disciple, Josei Toda.
Mr. Toda also said on the occasion of a memorial held at the same Kyoiku Kaikan in Kanda, Tokyo, for the seventh anniversary of Mr. Makiguchi’s passing on November 12, 1950.
I remember that I met my mentor 30 years ago, when I was 19 and he was 48. From that time on, I had as close a relationship with him as a mentor and disciple, or even as a father and son.
I also accompanied him during his four persecutions. The first was when he was dismissed from Nishimachi Elementary School; the second, when he was released from Mikasa Elementary School; the third, when he was compelled to resign as schoolmaster of Shirogane Elementary School in Shiba; and the fourth, when I followed him to Sugamo Prison, undergoing military authority suppression for the sake of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism . . .
How crushed I was when told, “Makiguchi is dead!” All night long, I wept in my prison cell.
Asking how my mentor’s funeral had been held, I was told that three fellow members and a few others had attended, and that, moreover, Mr. Kobayashi had carried the body on his back from Sugamo Prison. How wretched and vexed I felt! The times were against us, and the disciples did not come for his funeral, though I don’t know whether they knew of our mentor’s death.
So I vowed to conduct his memorial service with whatever means I possessed! Since making this pledge, I am finding life worth living again.
Our mentor’s life exists eternally. Where is he now? Through Nam-myoho-renge-kyo that we, his disciples, chant, he is connected to this Buddhist ceremony. This is the Buddha’s enlightened land, and our mentor’s life is present here now with us.
It gives us, Soka Gakkai members, an infinite sense of pride to reminisce this way. We share the same faith as President Toda who, holding on to Nichiren Buddhism in the prison, fought selflessly, while seeking the way of his mentor.
President Makiguchi died at the Sugamo Prison on November 18, 1944. The previous day, he had been moved from solitary to a prison cell for the sick.
Mr. Makiguchi first dignified his appearance by changing his underwear and tabi socks. On the way to that cell for the ill, he fell down. When a caretaker tried to help him up, he refused his offer. He walked all the way on his own power. As soon as he got reached the cell, he is said to have lost consciousness, and he died the following morning.
His face was covered by a white cloth. Akitaka Kobayashi, a servant of one of his relatives, carried Mr. Makiguchi’s body from Sugamo Prison to his house in what is now Mejiro, Toshima Ward. Though he died in the jail, he appeared resolute in death, and was attired in immaculate white.
Why Did Nikkyo Have to Perish by Fire?
The Nikken sect was afraid that the story of how miserably Nikkyo-[62nd] died would be exposed to the public. This would force it to confront its doctrinal inconsistency, since it teaches that the high priest is none other than Nichiren Daishonin himself in modern times and that it is mandatory for believers to follow this “living Buddha” with absolute obedience.
The Nikken sect, therefore, wanted to have the truth of Nikkyo’s death buried in the depths of history.
Then, how did Nikkyo die?
Taiseki-ji was engulfed in flames on June 17, 1945. The fire that started at the back of a reception room spread to the reception hall, the six-compartment room, and the high priest’s quarters. It continued until around 4 a.m. and took the life of Nikkyo.
Nikkyo’s half-burnt body, found at the charred area, exemplified the strictness of cause and effect as expounded in Buddhism. He was found in the cooking furnace (kamado) located at a corner of the kitchen where Taiseki-ji employees dined. The second floor above the kitchen was the high priest’s room. Nikkyo had fallen into the kamado and died.
The previous day, Nikkyo happened to have returned to Taiseki-ji from his retirement home. He was sleeping in the chief administrator’s room on the second floor of the high priest’s quarters. Because of illness and obesity, he had difficulty walking, which hampered his escaping the flames.
Most likely, the floor of the high priest’s quarters collapsed in the fire, and Nikkyo fell right into the furnace. It seems he burned to death there, unable to free himself despite what must have been a desperate effort. This is suggested by the fact that his torso was burnt while the lower part of his body remained intact.
Nikkyo’s miserable death was clear proof of punishment visited upon Nichiren Shoshu, which, to selfishly preserve its security amid the stormy power of the military government, deleted passages of Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, revised the contents of the silent prayers to suit Japan’s militarism, accepted the slanderous government-ordered Shinto talisman, and abandoned the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s mandate and decree.
By the way, this narrative has not been written to disparage the successive Nichiren Shoshu high priests, as the Nikken sect insists. It was written out of a desire to acquaint readers with the strictness of cause and effect as expounded in Buddhism.
Accordingly, what is foul here is not the contents of this chapter but the way Nikkyo died. Therefore, when the Nikken sect says, “One’s writing shows one’s humanity,” the point it is making is not appropriate in this case.
First, we need to be clear about this point: No one can poetically describe the corpse of a person who burned to death after falling into a furnace and whose upper body was blackened while his lower portion remained intact.
Looking now at Shan-wu-wei’s remains, one can see that they are gradually shrinking, the skin is turned black, and the bones are exposed. Shan-wu-wei’s disciples perhaps did not realize that this was a sign that after his death he had been reborn in hell, but supposed that it was a manifestation of his virtue. Yet in describing it, the author of the biography exposed Shan-we-wei’s guilt, recording that after his death his body gradually shrank, the skin turned black, and the bones began to show. We have the Buddha’s golden word for it that, if a person’s skin turns black after he dies, it is a sign that he had done something that destined him for hell. (“On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, p. 718)
How does the Nikken sect regard these sacred descriptions by the True Buddha? Does it still insist that “one’s writing shows one’s humanity,” thus denigrating even Nichiren Daishonin?
Even Nichiren finds it necessary to vividly convey the misery of an unenlightened one’s death in order to show the strictness of cause and effect expounded in Buddhism. One instance after another, Nikkyo committed slanders that a high priest must never commit. It was only natural, then, that he would undergo such ultimate retribution.
Even a high priest, if he commits slander and persecutes the Buddha’s children, will show the actual proof of falling into hell at the time of his death. In other words, despite his position, he will not attain Buddhahood.
Therefore, for the sake of learning Buddhism correctly, it is very important to exactly know how Nikkyo died.
What was the cause of the fire? It was triggered by an acolyte being careless with a cigarette.
Nikkyo, Like Devadatta, Fell Into the Hell of Incessant Sufferings
The fire started in a closet of the room next to the high priest’s quarters, north of the hallway leading to the high priest’s reception room. Join Masuda, an acolyte, was smoking secretly in the closet, which caused a small fire. He thought he had extinguished it fully, but it flared up about an hour later.
There is another story in which the same acolyte was drying his tabi socks or something over a candle and fell asleep. But this turns out to have been an excuse concocted by Masuda.
It seems to have been common knowledge at Taiseki-ji right after the fire that it was caused by an acolyte. At some point, however, the incident came to be regarded as a case of arson at the high priest’s reception room, committed by a Korean solider who held a grudge against his Japanese officer staying at the facility.
Nichiren Shoshu has openly insisted on this false arson theory even today, blaming the Koreans for the fire. Such discriminatory, groundless hearsay is intolerable from a humanitarian perspective.
Please take a look at the above drawing of the priesthood quarters. Judging from various data, the fire seems to have originated at a room across the northern hallway by the high priest’s reception room. Allegedly breaking out around 10:30 p.m. on June 17, 1945, the fire engulfed the high priest’s reception room and his two-story wooden lodging almost at the same time. Later, the fire spread southeast, reaching the Daishoin building, the six-compartment room and the reception hall.
The Shinto talisman was enshrined at the 250-tatami-mat Daishoin room, where 200–300 Korean soldiers were sleeping. These Korean soldiers, who were also housed in the reception hall, had been forced to come to Japan and engage in farming in the vicinity of Taiseki-ji.
The entire high priest lodging, except his private space, was being used freely by the Korean soldiers.
Taiseki-ji priests were feeling diminished, living amid these many Korean soldiers. It is said that Nikkyo was away from Taiseki-ji in those days due to illness, but it seems he chose to stay away because of the Korean soldiers.
At the mercy of the behavior of the Korean soldiers who dominated Taiseki-ji, Nikkyo seems to have had no intention to stay there and risk his life to protect the Dai-Gohonzon.
As you can tell from the drawing, the Daishoin, where the Shinto talisman was enshrined, was a vital Taiseki-ji structure since it was adjacent to the high priest’s private area.
It was also very close to the Treasure House where the Dai-Gohonzon was kept. In fact, the slanderous Shinto object was enshrined at the center of Taiseki-ji. Nichiren Daishonin must have been disheartened at his future disciples’ loss of faith.
The hellish fire that enveloped Taiseki-ji was finally extinguished around 4 a.m. on June 18, the following day. Nikkyo’s charred body was found in the remains of the high priest’s quarters.
Nikkyo was the lone causality of this fire.
Since the contents of this book were first published in newsletter form, the Nikken sect has been criticizing our account of Nikkyo’s death, alleging that it is based upon the work Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit, by Bentetsu Yasunaga, a slanderous Nichiren Shu priest.
The truth of the matter, however, has now become clear with the lapse of time. Perceiving Nikkyo’s death humbly as a case of retribution in light of the strict Buddhist law of cause and effect is important for the Buddha’s disciples.
Kosei Nakajima, then acting chief administrator, spoke about Nikkyo’s death at an equinox meting at Myoko-ji, a temple in Tokyo, in September 1945. He cited a series of mishaps:
In the Shoin room, there were 300 farmer soldiers, but for some reason, they could not cooperate to extinguish the fire. A fire engine stationed at the gate was unusable because it needed repair. The car of the nearby military school that came from the Kamiide district was also useless because it lacked gasoline. There were available fire engines in Fujinomiya city ready to come to Taiseki-ji, but the fire station chief was absent and the fire fighters could not receive his instruction. When the firefighters finally arrived at the scene per emergency request from the Ueno Police Station, the fire had already spread to the reception hall and was out of control. All this bad news contributed to High Priest Nikkyo’s miserable death. Indeed, it was his destiny.
With that said, Nakajima accepted Nikkyo’s death, referring to it sincerely at the equinox meeting in front of Nichiren Shoshu priests and members as Nichiren’s most compassionate admonition. Indeed, it is rare that so many unfortunate things befell Nikkyo. His death was truly a case of Buddhist punishment.
Nakajima’s speech shows that in those days the central Nichiren Shoshu leaders must have somewhat regretted their past slanderous behavior amid the severe reality of the head temple fire and the high priest’s miserable death.
Still, by hiding the truth of the matter under the authority of the high priest, Nichiren Shoshu foolishly tried to cover up Nikkyo’s death. Such folly must be curtailed. Those seeking the Buddhist way should acknowledge such doings and learn the essence of Buddhism.
Incidentally, it was Jimon Ogasawara, a Nichiren Shoshu priest, who offered information to Bentetsu Yasunaga, a slanderous Nichiren Shu priest, for his book, Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit. That book revealed many years of conflicts among priests within Nichiren Shoshu.
Those for whom it is hardest to attain Buddhahood in the Latter Day of the Law are those who take advantage of the Law—the priesthood.
Nichiren Shoshu Knowingly Lies About Origin of Fire
That September 1945, in a recorded sermon at Myoko-ji, Kosei Nakajima acknowledged that the fire was caused by an acolyte who was smoking carelessly.
In addition, some priests well versed in Taiseki-ji circumstances of those days wrote recollections stating that the fire was caused by a careless acolyte. One recollection names the acolyte as Join Masuda.
Over time, however, Taiseki-ji insisted that the fire resulted from arson at the high priest’s reception room. Since it would not sound right if a priest within Nichiren Shoshu had caused it, Taiseki-ji tried to pin it on the Korean soldiers who were forced to come to Japan by the Japanese government.
The source of this demagogy is Refuting the Evil Book, “Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit,” a refutation of Theory of Wooden Gohonzon Being Counterfeit. The editor and publisher of this book was the Nichiren Shoshu Propagation Association. It was created by Dai-Nichiren Editorial Office and published on September 30, 1956.
This official Nichiren Shoshu view of the fire was a sheer lie. But after this book came out, the Korean soldiers began to be held accountable.
The following description is found in Refuting the Evil Book:
The Taiseki-ji chief administrator’s living quarters were in the two-story structure. His reception room was about three ken away from it. The war was getting serious and vehement, and the stationed army deployed Korean soldiers at various lodgings throughout Japan. Taiseki-ji was designated as one such lodging place. Therefore, several hundred Korean soldiers were staying at the reception room and Shoin room on the Taiseki-ji grounds. Also, twenty-some Japanese officers were then staying at Taiseki-ji to train these Korean soldiers. On a night when Shizuoka Prefecture was bombed, some Korean soldiers set a gasoline fire at the rear of the reception room near the chief administrator’s lodging quarters. It instantly engulfed the entire building, spreading so quickly that all the officers could do was take their belongings and escape by jumping to the ground. The first place the fire spread to was the chief administrator’s lodging. The high priest’s attendant priest was sleeping downstairs and barely escaped by jumping out a window. Many people on the head temple grounds that day reached the fire’s origin around that time, but it was already out of control. Very quickly, the chief administrator’s two-story structure burned down. They tried to stop the fire but it spread to the reception hall, Shoin room and storage structure, destroying all very rapidly.
Though we see false descriptions here and there in Refuting the Evil Book, the sentence that describes the high priest’s reception room and adjoining lodging rapidly engulfed by in flames seems correct.
Kosei Nakajima was recorded at the Myoko-ji equinox service as saying:
The fire started in a closet, which was located downstairs of the chief administrator’s room. The farmer soldier officers were sleeping at the reception room next to the three-shaku-wide hallway. Because the fire spread so quickly, they had to just get out without even taking their military uniforms.
Also, there was a Japanese army officer who recalls that he lost his service uniform and military sword—his life as a military man—in the fire. It is very conceivable that the high priest’s reception room and his lodging quarters next to his reception hall burst into flames at almost at the same time.
What Nakajima refers to as the high priest’s living room seems to be a room on the second floor of the high priest’s quarters. In other words, the fire started right below him, which shows how difficult it was for Nikkyo to escape.
Also, as mentioned earlier, Nikkyo was a large man with weak body and legs, which made it hard for him to walk. Additionally, he had a hearing problem. A believer who met with Nikkyo wrote about his hearing impairment:
The house in Okubo burned down in a huge Tokyo air raid in May 1945. On June 8 of that year, I went to the head temple and sought audience from the high priest. At that time, I asked him the meaning of the words he wrote for me on a tanzaku (long strip of paper). He responded that he put no deep meaning into it and that he just wanted to give it to me with little significance attached. Since he had a hearing problem, I wrote my question on a piece of paper and showed it to him for his response. He asked, ‘Are you talking about remonstration?’ In those days, whether we would remonstrate with the government was a big issue. This was only nine days before his death. (from “Yuishin Yuigyo [Devoted Faith and Practice]”)
Refuting the Evil Book, reads:
We can take the high priest’s death as his will to take his life, as he may have thought it beyond his power to deal with the plight of Taiseki-ji, which was like a battlefield with soldiers and their weapons. As chief administrator, and embodying the spirit of Rissho Ankoku, he devoted himself to praying day and night for the peace of the nation, promoting the teaching of this school with a profound wish for the security of the people. With a sure defeat in the war just around the corner, he must have felt powerless, attempting to diminish the karma of the nation with the burning of his body. Therefore, we can take his death as a case of honorable suicide.
But these descriptions are only a cover up of the story of Nikkyo’s death. What actually happened was that he failed to escape. First, he died in the high priest’s lodging. The high priest’s reception hall and lodging burned almost simultaneously. Afterward, the fire spread to the Daishoin room and reception hall. Starting around 10:30 p.m. on 17th, the fire lasted until 4 a.m.—about five and a half hours. When Nikkyo died, only the high priest’s reception hall and lodging quarters were on fire. It had not progressed to where Nikkyo might have thought about “taking responsibility” by perishing in the flames.
Nikkyo simply could not escape from the fire as evidenced by the fact that he died at his lodging quarters in the fire’s early stages, when it had not yet spread to other structures. It couldn’t have been suicide because of the location where he died. If it had been at the reception hall, perhaps he could have chosen to throw himself into the flames out of a sense of responsibility over this catastrophe happening at the head temple.
But the place where his semi-charred body was found nullifies this theory. Had he chosen to kill himself over feeling responsible at the early stage of the fire, it would have been a hasty decision indeed.
Also, someone determined to kill himself to take the responsibility for the mishap wouldn’t have done so in the kamado (wood or charcoal stove or oven).
According to Refuting the Evil Book:
We found the high priest’s body in the ashes. We found him not in his bedroom, but in the Gohonzon room. By his position, he was bowing to the Gohonzon in death.
But this is a total fabrication, as absurd as the story of the Korean soldiers’ having set the fire.
Nichiren Daishonin states, “[A] sage never dies an untimely death” (WND-2, p. 616).
Nikkyo died miserably because of the severity of the Buddhist law of cause and effect. No high priest is sacred simply because he assumes that role.
Ogasawara Incident and Ogasawara’s Reinstatement
The Ogasawara Incident took place on the evening of April 27, 1952, when a grand ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. At that time, Soka Gakkai youth division made Jimon Ogasawara, whom they did not know was still a priest of Nichiren Shoshu, write a letter of apology.
Ogasawara wrote this letter of apology in front of the head temple tomb of first Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, acknowledging his erroneous teaching and behavior during World War II, which the youth division of the Soka Gakkai pointed out. The following is his letter of apology:
A Letter of Apology
My theory that “Deity is essential while Buddha transient” is an illusion. I confused Nichiren Daishonin’s pure teaching. My behavior was indeed non-Buddhist. I deeply apologize for having been a parasite within the lion king of Nichiren Shoshu. I will be more careful about my behavior from now on.
To Nichiren Daishonin
Ogasawara’s manipulative actions doubtlessly and directly caused the arrest of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai President Makiguchi and General Director Toda in July 1943. For this reason, he was an archenemy of Mr. Toda, whose adored mentor, President Makiguchi, died in prison.
During World War II, in addition to advocating his new theory, Ogaswara exerted himself to help merge Nichiren Shoshu with the Nichiren Shu Minobu sect. It is said he might have been appointed Nichiren Shu General Administrator, Taiseki-ji’s Chief Administrator (high priest) or Seicho-ji chief priest had his plot succeeded. Toward realizing his ambition, Ogaswara schemed to have Nikkyo arrested for lèse-majesté.
Nichiren Shoshu somehow succeeded in avoiding the arrest of High Priest Nikkyo, but, fearful of government authority, it violated the school’s essential anti-slander admonition and accepted the Shinto teaching. On September 14, 1942, Nichiren Shoshu expelled Ogasawara from the school, but Ogasawara did not give up his ambition, tenaciously pursuing his selfish quest in an even-dirtier manner under the protection of the contemporary “movement of the promotion of the imperial rule” in Japan.
After disposing of Ogasawara, Nichiren Shoshu, fearing national authority intervention, issued an official notice urging the entire priesthood and laity on October 10, 1942, to worship the Ise Shrine.
Ogasawara’s manipulation prompted Nichiren Shoshu to step further into slanderous actions and to trigger government persecution of the Soka Gakkai. In a sense, we can say that Ogasawara’s corruption led to the head temple’s major fire, Nikkyo’s miserable death and Taiseki-ji’s decadence. Ogasawara was an unforgivable enemy of the Soka Gakkai, and, in light of Buddhism, he was also an enemy of Nichiren Shoshu.
President Toda must have thought that not only did Ogasawara need to apologize for his past behavior but also that it was essential for Nichiren Shoshu’s future that the roots of his evil be severed.
About a year earlier, the May 1, 1951, issue of Seikyo Shimbun carried an article on Ogasawara in the form of a believer’s statement that read:
In retrospect, there was an evil priest. He sold Taiseki-ji to Minobu on conditions that he would become Seicho-ji’s chief priest. Controlling the Suigyo-kai group, he curried favor with the government with his strange theory, causing trouble for High Priest Nikkyo. Such an evil priest is still at the head temple. Because of him, the government persecuted Mr. Makiguchi of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai. I am sorry for the high priest, too. He had to put protection of the head temple before remonstration with the government. Are these things in sync with Nichiren Daishonin’s heart? Neither priests nor lay believers acted correctly in those days.
This article led to a statement by Mr. Josei Toda at his inauguration ceremony two days later.
Why Was Ogasawara Reinstated As a Priest?
On May 3, 1951, President Toda was inaugurated as second Soka Gakkai president at a meting held at Josen-ji in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. At this meeting, he expressed his profound resolve, saying, “Under my leadership, I will bring 750,000 households to faith in Nichiren Buddhism.”
The Gakkai’s membership was then only around 5,000. President Toda and Director Kashiwabara requested of Seido Hosoi, the Nichiren Shoshu general affairs bureau chief who later became Nittatsu-, something to the effect:
It seems that Jimon Ogasawara, an evil priest who, with his new theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient,” caused trouble to the high priest and triggered a major persecution of the Soka Gakkai by the authorities, is still registered as an official Nichiren Shoshu priest. Now that the Soka Gakkai is carrying out an unsparing nationwide propagation campaign, it is our hope that the head temple will be considerate enough to lend protection and understanding toward the future of the Soka Gakkai and not allow such a villain to disturb our unity. (Seikyo Shimbun, May 10, 1952)
Mr. Hosoi responded: “Such a priest no longer exists in Nichiren Shoshu. Ogasawara has been ousted from this school” (Seikyo Shimbun, May 10, 1952).
This was seemingly not just his personal statement but one reflecting that of the entire school. This is because the general affairs bureau of the Administrative Office published the following disclaimer in its magazine, Dai-Nichiren, dated May 3, 1951, denying the contents of the believer’s article that had appeared in the Seikyo Shimbun:
* It seems that so-and-so Takase, calling himself a Nichiren Shoshu priest and wandering around Fukushima Prefecture, is visiting our temples or believers’ homes. Please make sure that no such priest exists in our school.
* It is written in the May 1 issue of Seikyo Shimbun that the priest who sued High Priest Nikkyo Suzuki and tried to disband Nichiren Shoshu is still at the head temple. This is to clarify that no such priest exists among the priests of Nichiren Shoshu.
May 3, 1951
General Affairs Bureau of the Administrative Office
This disclaimer served as an indirect cause for the Ogaswara Incident.
One year later, in April 1952, a grand ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The Soka Gakkai published the Gosho in commemoration of this grand ceremony. The Gakkai also lent it dignity through the pilgrimage of 4,000 members. It happened that Ogaswara wrote his apology in front of the tomb of President Makiguchi on April 27 amid this ceremony.
On the following day, some Soka Gakkai youth division volunteers posted this announcement on the front of the Rikyo-bo lodging gate:
Jimon Ogasawara is the one who, during wartime, aligned himself with the military government with his new theory that “gods signify the essence while the original Buddha their function.” He thus tarnished the pure lineage of the Law. As a result, he caused major persecution of the Soka Gakkai and the death of its first president, Mr. Makiguchi. We have seen him at the head temple, and, accordingly, we, Soka Gakkai youth division representatives, out of our irresistible desire to protect the purity of the Great Law, challenged him to reveal the truth of the matter on behalf of the Buddhist gods. Since Ogasawara apologized for his erroneous act, we let him go, as he promised to behave himself from now on. This is what happened during the so-called Ogasawara Incident.
On the day of the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
Soka Gakkai Youth Division Representatives.
But Nichiren Shoshu reacted harshly to the Gakkai’s action against Ogasawara, declaring: First, it is intolerable that the Gakkai caused an incident during the auspicious 700th anniversary ceremony. Second, it is the high priest’s exclusive right, not the lay Soka Gakkai’s, to judge whether Ogasawara’s idea of “Deity essential while Buddha transient” is erroneous in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Third, whoever wears a robe is a disciple of the high priest. Lay believers are not in a position to bully him.
Nichiren Shoshu felt that the Gakkai’s questioning of the priest undermined the high priest’s authority.
As these allegations by Nichiren Shoshu did not sound right, for Nichiren Shoshu had declared during President Toda’s inauguration one year earlier that Ogaswara was no longer within Nichiren Shoshu, accordingly, to the Soka Gakkai, the second and third reasons cited by the priesthood did not seem appropriate.
Astonishingly, however, Nichiren Shoshu announced that Ogasawara had been reinstated as a Nichiren Shoshu priest on April 5, right before the 700th-anniversary ceremony.
Not only that, this announcement was made through a Dai-Nichiren issue allegedly printed in April, after the Ogasawara Incident took place. The periodical was distributed to both temple and Soka Gakkai members in mid-May. The Gakkai knew nothing about this news until then.
Priesthood Cares Only About Authority
The April 30, 1952, Dai-Nichiren issue reports Ogasawara’s reinstatement as follows:
Jimon Ogaswara, gon no daisozu in the hierarchy of priesthood
Mino-cho, Bugi-gun, Gifu prefecture
In pursuant to Articles 386 and 387-2 of the Rules of this school, the above-mentioned individual shall be granted a special pardon and returned to this school in this month of April 1952. Recognized as chief priest, he is granted no other rights.
April 5, 1952
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator
Reason for Special Pardon
To Jimon Ogasawara
Mino-cho, Bugi-gun, Gifu prefecture
The above individual had been expelled from this school on September 14, 1942, but his self-reflection has been apparent since then. Taking into consideration that he is aging physically, and because of a strong request from believers concerned, and also because this year marks the auspicious 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, I grant him a special pardon based upon Articles 386 and 387 of the Rules of this school, allowing him to return to this school and the right to be a chief priest again. No other rights shall be granted to him at this time.
April 5, 1952
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator”
This announcement was a surprise to the Soka Gakkai, which had confirmed with Nichiren Shoshu around the time of President Toda’s inauguration the previous year that Ogasawara was no longer a Nichiren Shoshu priest. Nevertheless, Nichiren Shoshu made Ogasawara’s reinstatement on April 5 before the Gakkai reprimanded him on April 27.
Viewed from the Gakkai’s perspective, one reason the Gakkai publicly tried to reform Ogasawara was that he was shamelessly present, clad in a robe, at the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo even though he was no longer a priest. The announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement through Dai-Nichiren took away the Gakkai’s rationale for criticizing Ogasawara.
In a document dated June 27, 1952, that President Toda submitted to the Administrative Office of Nichiren Shoshu, he refers to the surprise of Ogasawara’s reinstatement:
Since we learned right after the incident that Mr. Jimon Ogasawara had returned to the position of priest based upon a special pardon on the auspicious occasion celebration, we had been confirming if and on what basis the Administrative Office issued an official notice of this matter. An announcement was published in Dai-Nichiren #74 dated April 30, an issue distributed in the middle of May. It is hard to understand why such a heretical priest is still at the head temple as an official priest.
We can tell from this document how chagrined President Toda felt toward Nichiren Shoshu’s callousness. This Dai-Nichiren announcement was so shocking that the Soka Gakkai was forced to go on the defensive over the Ogaswara issue.
Here arises a suspicion that the news of Ogasawara’s reinstatement was created right after the April 27 Ogasawara Incident at the head temple.
In those days, Dai-Nichiren was printed on the seventh day of each month. But this April 1952 issue had been published on April 30, according to the date of printing shown inside. Clearly, the issue was printed belatedly.
To fulfill government postal regulations that Dai-Nichiren, as a monthly magazine, had to put out an April issue, April 30 naturally became the ultimate published deadline. In point of fact, the issue might have been printed a little later than that. It was highly irregular that the Dai-Nichiren issue was printed at the end of April right before the busy time of the 700th anniversary ceremony.
Since this issue contained special coverage of the 700th-anniversary ceremony, we can surmise that the publication of the April issue had been delayed. Thus, the editorial work would have been carried out alongside that for the May issue scheduled to come out on May 7. First, we can confirm the truth of the printing and publication of the April issue of Dai-Nichiren in May. Also, it is quite possible that Ogasawara’s reinstatement was hastily done and backdated to April 5, after Mr. Toda submitted his apology for the Ogaswara Incident.
There was another priest who enjoyed a special pardon, Rindo Iguchi, whose rank was that of gon no sozu. Iguchi had been demoted six ranks lower on suspicion of his April 1947 role in the sale of the head temple’s mountains and trees. Iguchi’s case was also dated April 5 like Ogasawara’s. His was made public through the Administrative Office’s Order #30. Ogasawara’s case followed as Order #31.
The sequence of these two Orders is questionable, however. Hierarchy is absolute in the priesthood world and is respected in the treatment of ordinary matters. Nevertheless, the announcement of Iguchi’s being promoted back to gon no daisozu preceded Ogasawara’s reinstatement as dai-sozu, a higher position than gon no daisozu. This is very unusual that a priest of higher status would be pardoned after a priest of lesser status.
This will be discussed later, but Ogasawara’s reinstatement had already come about as a special pardon in March 1946. Nichiren Shoshu’s decision to reinstate Ogasawara and announcement of it through Dai-Nichiren were intentionally done to punish President Toda—shameful behavior, indeed, on the part of the priesthood.
Through this case, we see the priesthood’s corrupted, wicked wisdom to protect only their own authority. Whether one is right in light of Buddhism is secondary to the corrupt priesthood mind. Priests may say noble things on the surface, but they are simply concerned about preserving their status. They are ignorant of how the True Buddha Nichiren Daishonin would feel toward their behavior.
Without Questioning Ogasawara’s Slander, Priesthood Accuses Soka Gakkai
Nissho’s rage at the Ogasawara Incident was reportedly tremendous. The fabricated Dai-Nichiren story of Ogasawara’s reinstatement could not have come about by general affairs bureau decision alone. It appears Nissho’s strong will to punish the Soka Gakkai was behind it. The high priest’s fury spread throughout Nichiren Shoshu. Criticism of the Soka Gakkai intensified within the school after the announcement of the fabricated special pardon.
A resolution signed by twelve Nichiren Shoshu 8th district chief priests was made to criticize the Gakkai’s behavior at its general meeting. The 8th district covers Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo Shiga and other prefectures in Kansai. The resolution reads in part:
- We assert that the action taken by (the Soka Gakkai youth division) during the auspicious 700th anniversary of the establishment of this Buddhism and also during the sacred time of the high priest’s Gosho lecture, the kind of action that tarnished the pure grounds of the head temple and disturbed the faith of many pure-hearted believers from across the country, cannot be tolerated by either the Buddhist gods or the people regardless of its righteousness.
- This indecent incident is not a matter between Soka Gakkai and the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara. It occurred in total disregard of the authorities of this school. Therefore, it is most distasteful to all priests and lay believers of this school. This we assert.
This resolution was unilateral and punished only the Soka Gakkai without questioning Ogasawara’s slander of Nichiren Buddhism and destruction of its righteousness. The high priest’s fury resulted from his reasoning that the laity has no right to reprimand the priesthood’s error.
Ogasawara issued a pamphlet on May 23 expressing his intention to file a lawsuit stating that President Toda and others had physically attacked him. Also, he justifies his erroneous theory that “Deity essential while Buddha transient,” saying:
I took up this theory of ‘Deity is essential while Buddha transient’ during wartime because I thought this idea would gain us the upper hand over all other Nichiren sects. It was quite regrettable, however, that I was attacked in our school based upon ignorance of my true intent behind this theory.
And he irrationally attacks the Gakkai’s accusation of his attempt to have Taiseki-ji absorbed into the Minobu school during World War II, saying: “This allegation misses the point. I tried to put Minobu under Taiseki-ji. This did not happen because all of you opposed my idea.”
They say that it is an obligation of a nation’s people to follow its wartime policy. No other choice. From this perspective, I thought we could not help but come together with Minobu. And of course, after the war is over, we would separate from one another. I intended to bring Taiseki-ji many souvenirs from Minobu after our separation. This, I thought, should be the correct teaching and cause of this school.
No matter how base Ogasawara’s mind, Nichiren Shoshu claimed the laity should absolutely respect him as long as he maintained priest status. If not for the Ogasawara Incident, he could have towered over the laity as a priest with the title of daisozu.
The Buddhist standard of right and wrong was nonexistent in the Nichiren Shoshu priests’ consciousness. Instead, there was merely discrimination against the laity.
On June 1, the Yomiuri Shimbun Shizuoka edition published a fabricated story headlined: “President Now Prohibited From Head Temple. Taiseki-ji Former Chief Administrator Attacked. Anti-Soka Gakkai Decision Guided by Former Communist Party Member? Confrontation Between Head Temple and Gakkai Whose Membership is 20,000.”
The Japan Communist Party was then an illegal organization under the Anti-Subversive Activities Law. On May 1, right after the Ogaswara Incident, the bloody May Day incident followed. The Korean War broke out in June 1952, and the Red Purge incident took place that July.
Under such circumstances, an individual tried to have the Soka Gakkai oppressed, alleging to the media that a Communist had slipped into the Gakkai membership. The Yomiuri Shimbun was taken in by this manipulation. The Yomiuri Tokyo headquarters heeded the Gakkai’s protest, urging Gakkai representatives to visit its Shizuoka office, which they did in order to explain the situation.
Because of the Gakkai’s tenacious efforts to find out the truth of the matter, the individual who had manipulated Yomiuri Shimbun was revealed, and about a month later this person, who will be indentified here later, officially apologized for his behavior. It was already July. While the Gakkai’s pursuit of the truth continued, the situation became increasingly unfavorable to the Gakkai.
Josei Toda Confronts Priesthood Consensus
Nichiren Shoshu’s internal criticism of the Soka Gakkai intensified around June 1952 after the Ogasawara Incident. President Josei Toda squarely confronted the priesthood, and the Gakkai issued a declaration under its president’s name on June 10. In it, the youth division thoroughly rebuked Ogasawara in light of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, asserting: “Jimon Ogasawara is a follower of the heavenly devil, not a sacred priest.”
The declaration ends with Mr. Toda’s statement:
In order to protect the purity of Nichiren Shoshu, I am determined to wage a battle against Jimon Ogasawara, an embodiment of the heavenly devil that destroys Buddhism, until the day we break through his devilish influence while abiding by the true intent of the Gohonzon and the admonition of Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji. This I declare for the protection of Buddhism.
The priesthood moved to punish President Toda as if ridiculing his determination.
A four-day Nichiren Shoshu assembly meeting was held June 26–29. The revision of the Rules of Nichiren Shoshu and a draft of the Bylaws of Nichiren Shoshu were discussed. Another important topic of the incident during the 700th anniversary ceremony was also discussed.
General Affairs Bureau Chief Seido Hosoi introduced President Toda’s summation letter of the incident on June 27, the second day.
President Toda’s summation refers to the points that the Gakkai did not think Ogasawara was still a Nichiren Shoshu priest, that Ogasawara’s plotting based upon his theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient” was intolerable, and that Ogasawara did not acknowledge the erroneousness of his theory even on the day of the incident.
Furthermore, stating that since other Gakkai leaders did not act violently against Ogasawara, President Toda contended that the religious debate with Ogasawara was done in a nonviolent manner:
When this fact is challenged in the future, its truth cannot be proven without witnesses. I hope you will hear from the Rev. Abe of Otaru Temple, the Chief Priest of Myodo-ji in Nagoya, and an acolyte of Jakunichi-bo, whom we asked to be present here with us.
Stating that it was very difficult for him to understand that Ogaswara still belonged to Nichiren Shoshu as a priest, he concluded: “For that reason, the issue between Mr. Jimon Ogasawara and us is not over yet. Therefore, this letter of summation is not complete, but we brought it here with us anyway per your order.”
The assembly then held its closed-door session, and the meeting continued until late in the evening.
Early the next morning, the Bylaws of Nichiren Shoshu were discussed. Around 7:30 p.m., a resolution, drafted by the entire assembly, was presented and unanimously supported. In this resolution, the assembly reserved its opinion regarding the treatment of Ogasawara by simply stating, “It is hoped that a proper action will be taken in light of the Rules and Bylaws of this school.” The assembly’s conclusion was very strict, however, with President Toda:
Mr. Josei Toda, a lay leader, is accountable for the ugly incident, of a type unheard-of since the founding of Taiseki-ji. In this incident, Mr. Toda ignored Article 30 of the Rules of this school, took a violent, seemingly premeditated action again the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara on April 27 this year; caused trouble for the high priest who was involved in the commemorative ceremony; and disturbed the faith of believers on pilgrimage to the head temple. In light of this, we take the following measures to prevent him from ever again causing such an incident, either as an individual or an organizational leader:
* He must submit a letter of apology through the chief priest of the temple to which he belongs.
* He is to be stripped of the position of the lay leader of this school.
* He is now prohibited from pilgrimage to the head temple.
President Toda had presented three witnesses to rebut the Soka Gakkai youths’ alleged act of violence. The assembly showed no interest in hearing their accounts. It did not listen to what Mr. Toda himself had to say, unilaterally asserting through its closed-door session that the incident had seemed premeditated.
Among the assembly members there were many who, just like Ogasawara, had departed from Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching and devoted themselves to war-supporting activities. How ironic that Jikai Watanabe, who had ordered President Makiguchi and General Director Toda to accept the Shinto talisman in June 1942, was a member of the assembly judging Mr. Toda on this matter. Many years later, Watanabe would express his admiration for the Soka Gakkai and its spirit of propagation.
After the assembly decision, three executive priests, including the General Administrator, expressed their intention to resign. Mr. Hosoi, the general affairs bureau chief who understood the Soka Gakkai best and was caught between the high priest’s fury and his own respect for the Gakkai’s position, shared his regret:
I made it clear that the Rev. Ogasawara had deceived me. Therefore, I gave the impression that I was favoring the Soka Gakkai. Under such circumstances, the people of this school may not think my actions from now on will be fair. Thus, I feel I had better resign from my current position, and I ask you on my behalf to select somebody you can trust.
The executive priests’ intent to resign went on hold prior to the assembly’s decision on the fourth day of the meeting. As a result, none had yet resigned from their respective executive positions. General Affairs Bureau Chief Hosoi, when asked to remain in his position by the assembly, availed himself of the opportunity to speak at the meeting, and dared to say, “I would like to ask you to take as generous an action as possible for the Gakkai.”
All things considered, Mr. Hosoi’s statement was a very bold one in favor of protecting the Soka Gakkai, likely based upon his sense of humility, as he knew the truth of the matter.
Assembly Members Prioritize Priests’ Authority
Two assembly members’ remarks made on the last day of the assembly meeting overtly show the priesthood’s cunning. One such statement was made by Kocho Kakinuma, one of the senior priests who had promoted Nichiren Shoshu’s involvement in supporting the war. He said:
Let’s not talk about things on a purely theoretical level. I will further train myself, since I feel the incident that happened stems from an indecency in our character as priests.
In this statement, Kakinuma is taking pre-cautionary measures to deflect Nichiren Shoshu’s interest in various mistakes it made during the war by considering the validity of the “Deity is essential while Buddha is transient” theory. He is preserving his status through his clever remark. Jishu Akita, another assembly member, made a similar remark just before the session closing. In 1950, two years before, Akita aggressively promoted Taiseki-ji as a tour attraction. He presumably bore President Toda ill will since his plan was halted because of Mr. Toda’s pilgrimage idea. At that time, he made seemingly nice remarks and said nothing specific against Mr. Toda.
I think that the incident can be attributed to our inability as priests to guide in faith. We, the members of the assembly, have written a letter of apology, as we want to apologize to the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary, through the high priest, with our pledge to establish harmony in this school by making further efforts to guide lay believers correctly in faith.
But behind the scenes, he was scheming cunningly against President Toda.
In fact, Akita, the priest who spoke eloquently in public, was providing false information behind the scenes for the mass media. Pressed by the Soka Gakkai youth division after the assembly session on July 12, he admitted with his apology that he was the source of information for the fabricated Yomiuri Shimbun Shizuoka article mentioned above.
The Soka Gakkai youth, knowing the assembly’s punitive decision against President Toda, visited assembly members to convince them of the truth of the matter. Some realized that their assembly decision was wrong, and others would not listen to the youth, justifying the assembly decision.
What, expectedly, became clear in this process was that assembly members, wielding their religious authority as priests, gave no thought to promoting the great Law.
Most symbolic was the behavior of assembly chairperson Shindo Ichikawa. When pressed by the Soka Gakkai youth division, he abandoned a dialogue with youth representatives, and instead setting someone from among his temple’s believers to confront Gakkai youths with physical violence. The July 20, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun reports:
Mr. Ichikawa suddenly stood up and went out to another room. At that time, a Gakkai member shouted, “Reverend! You can’t escape. You are being irresponsible. Please come back.” As soon as he said this, a thug jumped on him, shouting, “This bastard!” Many people present stood up and surrounded this Gakkai member. Then, several other thugs came into the room, shouting: “We’ll take care of this quarrel.” “Get out. Get outside.” All were apparently yakuza members. Wearing casual aloha shirts, sporting tattoos and keeping their shoes on, they did not look like normal citizens . . . Because some policemen appeared, we could restore order. One thug even tried to throw a hammer at us. They also attacked us with clubs.
This priest’s lowly ethical standard, as indicated by this incident, is dumbfounding. It is all the more so since he assumes the responsibility of assembly chairmanship.
Ichikawa read a document of apology similar in nature to his speech at the assembly closing, where President Toda’s punishment was decided:
I think that the incident can be attributed to our inability to guide in faith as priests. We, the members of the assembly, have written a letter of apology, as we want to apologize to the Dai-Gohonzon of the high sanctuary through the high priest with our pledge to establish harmony in this school by making further efforts to guide lay believers correctly in faith.
While apologizing to the Dai-Gohonzon, he was using violent criminals against pure-hearted believers. President Toda pointed out the absurdity of the priesthood’s actions in his column “Suntetsu” in the July 20, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun.
- Why does an assembly member initiate a fight against Gakkai members determined to advance propagation and protect the head temple?
- There may be further turmoil since not only youths are angry, but even older people are readying themselves.
- The current assembly engages in behavior worse than the politics of barbarism. Its decision devoid of examining the facts is terrible. I feel that its members now resemble those from 700 years ago.
- It is right that they should recall the days of 700 years ago. They should remember how Nichiren Daishonin carried out shakubuku. They should not emulate Hei no Saemon.
- Are the assembly members the rebirth of Hei no Saemon? They punished us without examining the circumstances of the incident or clarifying the truth of it.
- Hei no Saemon has manifested as the members of the assembly. They vastly owe debts to the Buddha, but they are all opposed to the Buddha’s intent. They have appeared within the Daishonin’s Buddhism. They bear grudges and jealousy against one great believer. Their life-tendency is horrid.
Mr. Toda’s criticism of the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood applies to the Nikken sect priesthood today. All Buddhist enemies of the past have seemingly lined today up in a timely manner.
Priests Who Try to Fracture the Gakkai Are Devil’s Disciples.
Writing around the time of the 1952 Ogasawara Incident, President Toda was very critical of the overall corruption he saw in Nichiren Shoshu. In the foreword to the April 1952 issue of The Daibyakurenge that he wrote two days before the Ogasawara Incident, he states:
There are those who act like bosses, treating members as their followers and exploiting their faith in the Gohonzon. Shakubuku is an act of true compassion, but these people think they have become great bosses. Their thinking is wrong. It may be their instinct to develop such ideas and behavior, but it is merely a manifestation of arrogance. I will fight without rest against such arrogant people. People of this type are occasionally found within the temple. They also emerge within our organization. They are just like poisonous mushrooms. Influenced by such poison, one may amass a following of 40 or 50 members. Colluding with a priest, this sponsor may want to become independent from the Gakkai. Such sponsors are huge enemies in our great march of shakubuku in the Latter Day. I would assert that a priest who allows this type of sponsorship is a devil disguised as compassionate. Since the priesthood is supposedly worthy of respect, I hesitate to point this out.
Here, President Toda asserts that those priests who try to break apart the Soka Gakkai organization are the disciples of the devil. Another quote from Mr. Toda’s “Suntesu” column, this time from the May 10, 1952, Seikyo Shimbun reads:
- Don’t repeat the Ogasawara Incident. Don’t do things that cause such an incident. Who is wrong in this incident, those who created it or the priest who became its target? Humbly ask Nikko Shonin to share his opinion.
In the July 1 Seikyo Shimbun, he writes in “Suntetsu” about the Ogasawara Incident:
- Was the ‘raccoon festival’ (Ogasawara Incident) in the wrong? Or is it those who allowed the raccoon to be accepted by the head temple who are wrong?
- Was capturing the raccoon wrong? Or is it the raccoon who deceives the believers that is wrong?
- Do those complaining about how we captured the raccoon feel compelled to keep the raccoon?
In “Suntetsu” of the July 10 Seikyo Shimbun, President Toda writes:
The assembly has decided that our president is now prohibited from visiting the head temple. The head temple is no longer a tranquil place.
Nichiren Daishonin states, “Therefore, from the very day you listen to [and take faith in] this sutra, you should be fully prepared to face the great persecutions of the three types of enemies that are certain to be more horrible now after the Buddha’s passing.” (WND-1, 391) One thing that the three types of enemies do is to oust the votary of the Lotus Sutra from the temple. Evil priests do such a thing.
Mr. Toda’s remarks are sharp and accurate. The persecution of ousting one from the temple exactly corresponds to the implementation of Operation C, an undertaking done exactly as the Buddha foretold, by the three kinds of evil individuals.
President Toda stated at the 9th Soka Gakkai General Meeting on November 22, 1957:
Just now, Ms. Kashiwabara referred to the idea of breaking the unity of the priesthood (Buddhist order). A priest in Buddhism denotes “one who is qualified to guide society and save people.” The term does not refer to one who, holding hatred toward others, simply wears a robe while maintaining a cunning attitude like a cat waiting for a mouse. Gakkai unit and group leaders who are working so hard for others’ happiness are truly manifesting the virtue of a priesthood. Whoever tries to destroy this unity will surely receive punishment. If you think what I am saying is untrue, just go ahead and try to break our unity.
Ogasawara Praises Soka Gakkai in His Later Years
Situations surrounding the Soka Gakkai gradually changed thanks to the Soka Gakkai youths’ religious debate and persuasiveness.
The three punishments of President Toda, agreed upon at the assembly, did not come to fruition. On July 24, Nissho-[64th] issued a document of admonition to President Toda to cap the Ogaswara Incident. Nissho first protects the priesthood, transcending the standard of right or wrong in light of Buddhism. He states:
All teacher priests and even plain-robed acolytes are my disciples and children of the Law. Should you criticize and despise these teacher priests, it is I, as high priest, who should be criticized, and spit at. This is how my heart aches when my disciples are being ridiculed.
Nissho then refers to President Toda’s continued role as a head of the laity.
Regarding the position of a lay leader of this school, if you feel ashamed of your behavior while apologizing to the Dai-Gohonzon, you should immediately resign. But if you feel otherwise, you should then renew your determination to piously protect the head temple and devote yourself to spreading the Law while taking the Law more seriously than your body.
President Toda wrote and submitted a reply. Though titled an apology, it was filled with his spirit to sever the roots of Nichiren Shoshu’s slanderous deeds.
We tend to be very resolute because we see even within this school a slanderous tendency or weak faith in the Great Pure Law; and, of course, because we keep deep in our hearts the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin toward refuting wrong ideas in the minds of those who don’t practice this Buddhism. I will carefully guide our members so that they won’t be so extreme in this regard, but since I am teaching them day and night that the true believers of Nichiren Shoshu should be burning with the spirit to selflessly protect the Law, they may go to that extreme as they seek no fame and even martyr themselves to propagate the Law. As we, the people of the Latter Day of the Law, represent the mutual possession of the ten worlds and tend to be foolish, I ask you to guide us with your vast compassion without abandoning us.
Though polite in expression, Mr. Toda’s words show his firm resolve. Concerning the position of head of the laity, he shows no sign of retreat:
In your admonition, you stated that I should resign should I feel ashamed of my behavior. I am sorry that I troubled the heart of the high priest, but because I believe that the action we took is exactly in accord with the golden teachings of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, I feel no shame before the Gohonzon as a believer of Nichiren Shoshu. Hence, I will not resign from the position of Hokkeko lay leader.
This shows his strong sign of indignation toward Nichiren Shoshu, which does not base its actions upon Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Mr. Toda implies that Nichiren Shoshu does not concern itself with what is right or wrong in view of Buddhism.
On July 26, the Soka Gakkai issued a cessation order under its president, Josei Toda.
Ogasawara, incidentally, had filed a lawsuit against President Toda and other Gakkai leaders. On September 2, the Fujinomiya district police station, which was under the national police headquarters, ordered President Toda and 11 other leaders to appear at the station. Director Satoru Izumi was detained for a whole day of investigation on September 2. President Toda, too, was detained for a full day on September 3.
This investigation was based upon a fabricated medical record Ogasawara had asked a doctor to come up with to prove alleged injuries owing to violence by Gakkai leaders. (Ogasawara had helped this doctor by renting him office space at the temple where Ogasawara was chief priest.) Also, his lawyer was Shigeya Miyake, with whom he had been close to since wartime.
During World War II, Miyake belonged to the Minobu school of Nichiren Shu. Together with Ogasawara, he worked aggressively behind the scenes to unite all Nichiren schools into one entity under the emperor-centered political system.
Nissho sent Ogaswara a document of admonition on September 9. Ogasawara sent a reply in which he hinted at filing a suit against Nichiren Shoshu for infringing upon his human rights.
Ogasawara’s letter was not opened to the public, but he must have been harboring negativity about the public announcement of the official date of his reinstatement being April 1952 despite the fact that it had actually occurred in March 1946. He would have been further outraged by the admonition he received from the high priest. Ogasawara, knowing Nichiren Shoshu’s weak points, must have sensed his opportunity to take advantage.
General Affairs Bureau Chief Seido Hosoi had a dialogue with Ogasawara at the latter’s temple, Hongen-ji in Gifu prefecture, to reason with him. It was then that lay believers belonging to Hongen-ji first learned that Ogasawara was ready to sue even the high priest. As a result, they reprimanded him. Isolated, he offered an apology, withdrawing all legal actions.
Yet, despite all his disturbing actions, Nichiren Shoshu did not actually punish Ogasawara. Here, too, we sense something dubious about the way the reinstatement was handled.
Interestingly, in the intervening years, Ogasawara became impressed with President Toda’s behavior, to the point that he developed respect for and came to feel close to Mr. Toda.
A book written by Ogasawara, titled Introduction to Nichiren Shoshu, was published on May 25, 1955. In the foreword, Ogasawara comments on the Soka Gakkai and President Toda:
Gakkai members’ earnest determination and great vision have rapidly invigorated our school that had long ago sunk into decline. Throughout Japan today, we see believers of our school everywhere. I am ceaselessly appreciative of this reality that is heralding kosen-rufu. Because of my lack of virtue and foolish behavior, I caused an unfortunate dispute with the Soka Gakkai in the past, for which I deeply apologize. In the meantime, I became clearly aware that I was wrong. Following the principle of ‘opposition leading to obedience,’ I have come to propose that the priests of Nichiren Shoshu master the Gakkai spirit and advance based on this spirit. If I say this, you may feel that I am currying favor with the Gakkai, but the truth is that what I am saying stands to reason and therefore I cannot stop saying this.
Ogasawara’s statement proves the greatness of President Toda. He died on December 3, 1955, at 80. In the latter part of his life, he praised Soka Gakkai’s efforts in propagation, offering his help unsparingly. The Soka Gakkai youth division presented 10,000 yen to his family on the occasion of his funeral.
Ogasawara awakened to correct faith mainly thanks to the youth division’s robust refutation. When we reminisce about Ogasawara’s entire life, his erroneous wartime theory of “Deity is essential while Buddha transient,” the Ogasawara Incident, and his later years, we naturally think about the greatness of President Toda and the profound meaning of Buddhism.
Ogasawara’s Post-war Reinstatement Was Well Known in Nichiren Shoshu
Behind Ogasawara’s reinstatement was a scheme involving the entire Nichiren Shoshu priesthood, a scheme that went beyond the lay believers’ imagination. The reinstatement did not take place in April 1952, just prior to the grand ceremony celebrating the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Rather, it was in 1946, right after World War II ended. This fact was well known among Nichiren Shoshu priests but never leaked to lay believers.
Knowing this, we can now see how maliciously such events as the fabricated Dai-Nichiren announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement, the assembly’s decision to punish President Toda, and the Nichiren Shoshu administration’s admonition of President Toda were carried out.
Evidently, Nichiren Shoshu priests unite for the sake of shared profits more than for their Buddhist principles.
The priests, who do not engage in propagation, validate their existence only through the hierarchy in which they are located above lay followers. Sensing this superiority in their very beings, they resent the rise of the lay organization.
Let us briefly go back and see how well known Ogasawara’s reinstatement was within Nichiren Shoshu after World War II. This effort to confirm what priests knew about Ogasawara’s reinstatement process is also an undertaking to reveal the baseness of the priesthood that distorts facts and thereby punishes lay believers in order to protect its authority.
There was a ceremony at Kyodai-ji in Tokushima Prefecture to celebrate the temple’s reconstruction on November 13, 1951, about half a year before the Ogasawara Incident occurred.
This event is reported in the November 1951 issue of Dai-Nichiren:
At noon, on the auspicious day of November 13, with the sun shining in the blue sky since early morning after the previous day’s rain had let up, the Gohonzon-enshrinement ceremony for the occasion of completion of the main temple reconstruction was conducted, with all preparations done.
Noon – Commencement
Completion of Gohonzon Enshrinement
Recitation of the Sutra
Report to the Gohonzon
2:00 p.m. – Commencement
Recitation of the Sutra
Reading of Remonstration
Prayer for the Deceased
The Rev. Jimon Ogasawara, Hongen-ji
The Rev. Tetsugen Fujikawa, Jozan-ji
The Rev. Enkai Akiyama, Rissho-ji
The Rev. Jihon Akiyama, Daijo-ji
Mr. Jitoku Kawabe, Hon’inmyo-ji
Two guests from Kobe. One guest from Awaji. Several pilgrims from Kochi.
It was indeed impressive how beautifully this ceremony could be held, the main Gohonzon room filled with people enjoying profound protection from Buddhist gods.
Jimon Ogasawara of Hongen-ji tops the list of distinguished guests at this celebration.
We learn from this article that four other senior priests were also present: Teigen Fujikawa of Jyozan-ji, Enkai Akiyama of Rissho-ji, Jihon Akiyama of Daijo-ji, and Jitoku Kawabe of Hon’inmyo-ji.
The August 1950 Dai-Nichiren published an ad for a book by Ogasawara titled Ichinen Sanzen—The Profound Principle of the Lotus Sutra. The ad copy reads: “Based on his many years of study of the Lotus Sutra he reveals its secret teaching. This masterpiece is a clarification of the excellence of this school’s traditional enlightened teaching.” Here, Ogasawara is credited as “former lecturer at Nihon University Religion Department and editor-in-chief of Dai-Nichiren.”
Also, the March 1950 Dai-Nichiren reports on a celebration for a reproduction of a large Buddhist temple (bonsho) bell at Honmon-ji in Sanuki:
Recreation of Buddhist Bell at Major Temple Honmon-ji
Honmon-ji in Sanuki conducted a ceremony at noon on February 5 to celebrate the recreation of the Buddhist temple bell that had been decided upon last fall. This accomplishment resulted from believers’ dedicated efforts in the unity of “many in body but one in mind.”
First bell ringing: 11:00 a.m. (Participants gather in front of the reception hall gate.)
Second bell ringing: 11:30 a.m.
Guides: 5 elderly people
Honmon-ji Chief Priest (to be carried by palanquin [kago])
Bell master technician: Sahei Ochi
The Rev. Jimon Ogasawara
Chief priests of lodging temples
Committee chairperson: Mr. Isaburo Manabe
Lay representative: Mr. Hidenobu Ando and four others
Bell Committee members: Mr. Ichiro Fukuoka and 10 people
Committee adviser: Mr. Satsuchin Ohira
Mr. Shigeru Mr. Maekawa and 30 others
General participants: 50
Here we learn that Ogasawara hit the bell right after the Honmon-ji chief administrator at a ceremony held on February 5.
Also, Shuho, the Nichiren Shoshu newspaper, ran a column titled “News from Minomachi Town” in its September 1947 issue. An Ogasawara item appears in this column, explaining that there was a service held at Hongen-ji on August 18 with four visiting chief priests of other temples and that, in his speech, Chief Priest Ogasawara reminisced about Nissho-[57th]. The item reads:
News from Mino-cho: Hongen-ji was opened by Nissho Shonin. A memorial ceremony was conducted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his passing at this temple on August 18. Chief Priests Ogawa, Motoe, Ohta and others attended the ceremony. Editor-in-chief Ogasawara spoke about Nissho Shonin in his speech. It was a rare occasion in recent years for priests and lay believers in this same district to come together in such a manner. Special celebratory red rice was served for all the participants.
This Shuho issue also carried an article signed by Seido Hosoi, general affairs bureau chief who later became Nittatsu-[66th]. Titled “Journey to Sanuki,” this article refers to the scroll-airing ceremony conducted at Honmon-ji. On hand at this ceremony were Ogasawara and four other guest priests as well as other priests who belonged to Honmon-ji. Ogasawara lectured at that ceremony.
Mr. Hosoi was also general affairs bureau chief when Ogasawara’s reinstatement became an issue during the Ogasawara Incident in 1952. Thus, we can tell he was deeply involved in the false announcement of Ogasawara’s reinstatement on April 5, 1952, and that he was well aware of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans regarding the April 1952 Dai-Nichiren issue used as a vehicle to hide the truth of Ogasawara’s reinstatement. For this reason, his article is noteworthy. Here we can see commonality between the Ogasawara reinstatement issue and the wooden-Gohonzon incident that arose during the first temple issue in the 1970s. In other words, the priesthood’s authority is placed before the truth of the matter.
The following is excerpted from Hosoi’s article:
“Journey to Sanuki”
Staying over one night at Rissho-ji, whose chief priest is Enkai Akiyama, my old friend, I attended my first scroll-airing ceremony at Honmon-ji. It was conducted smoothly, with many priests connected to Honmon-ji in attendance—the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara of Hongen-ji, the Rev. Jiken Ono of Hon’o-ji, the Rev. Enkai Akiyama, the Rev. Jihon Akiyama from Kochi, and myself. Led in [sutra recitation] by the Rev. Nippo Soma, the ceremony was conducted solemnly. Following the sermon by the Rev. Ogasawara, I was also honored to speak. (Reported by Hosoi on August 3, 1947.)
So, Hosoi lectured after Ogaswara at this ceremony.
Reinstatement Shows Nichiren Shoshu Began Post-war Era Without Wartime Slander Reflection
Shocking facts continue.
The June 1947 Shuho covers results of the Nichiren Shoshu assembly member election announced on April 29, 1947.
There were 21 candidates, and 16 were elected. Ogasawara, who received 44 votes, was not elected. He ranked 17th and came in just behind the last successful candidate. Because he was running for an assembly seat, it means that every Nichiren Shoshu priest knew Ogasawara had been reinstated.
From this, we can tell how manipulating and cunning the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood was to have punished the Soka Gakkai and President Toda. It conveyed to the Soka Gakkai for the first time that Ogasawara’s reinstatement took place April 5, 1952.
The 2nd issue of Shuho, published June 16, 1946, carried an article titled “Sanuki Honmon-ji Entourage Visits Head Temple and High Priest,” which recounts how Nichiman-[63rd] conducted a small reception for an entourage of priests from Honmon-ji, with Ogasawara in attendance:
There was a small party with guests invited by the high priest at 6 p.m. on that day. Present at this party was the Rev. Jimon Ogasawara, who came from Tokyo after being reinstated on special pardon. Also present were Daisei Temple lay representatives, Ruio Okamoto and Mokukichi Suzuki.
Note here, “. . . reinstated on special pardon.”
When had Ogasawara been reinstated after being expelled on September 14, 1942? The first issue of Shuho, dated May 15, 1946, announces the reinstatement:
Jimon Ogasawara, former daisozu in the rank of priesthood
Shimo-takase village, Mitoyo-gun, Kagawa prefecture
In pursuant to Article 394 and 394 (sic) of the Rules of this school, the above-mentioned individual is hereby reinstated on special pardon.
March 31, 1946
The above-mentioned individual, who was once expelled from this school pursuant to Article 389-32 of the Rules of this school on September 14, 1942, shall be reinstated pursuant to Articles 394 and 395 of the Rules of this school based upon our acknowledgement of his remarkable self-reflection and renewed attitude.
The reinstatement was conveyed as Order #22 on March 31, 1946, soon after World War II ended.
This symbolically shows that Nichiren Shoshu began its post-war era without having reflected on its serious wartime slander.
Although Ogasawara had already been reinstated via special pardon through Order #22, issued in March 1946, Nichiren Shoshu issued another order (Order #31) in April 1952, under its chief administrator, in order to save face and punish President Toda. The priesthood’s manipulative nature, vivid in this plot, is disgusting.
When Law Has Perished, It Is Time for its Propagation
Nichikai Defeated in Debate With Minobu; Transcribes Gohonzon Erroneously
The year 1928 became very special one in the flow of kosen-rufu. Nichikai, Nikken’s father, was inaugurated as 60th high priest that June. Later, Nichikai committed a grave slander by erroneously transcribing the Gohonzon. When his mistake was pointed out, he took offense, asserting the authority of the high priest.
As Ho’un Abe, the Administrative Office general administrator, he had engaged in a debate with Ryozan Shimizu of the Minobu school. Defeated and silenced by Shimizu’s disciple, he brought shame upon Taiseki-ji. Then-high priest Nitchu-[58th] became so riddled with anger and disappointment that he demoted Abe in priesthood rank and took away his general administrator position.
Developing a deep grudge, Abe plotted behind the scenes to pull Nitchu down from the position of high priest. Abe was also rotten in his personal life. As Nichikai, he was the type of high priest who symbolized the “age of the ‘lost’ Law,” the time when Nichiren Shoshu disconnected the school from the Law. With Nichikai’s inauguration, Nichiren Buddhism found itself in tremendous crisis. But this great evil was a harbinger of great good. True Bodhisattvas of the Earth connected themselves with Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
The year 1928 was indeed meaningful in that Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda both joined Nichiren Shoshu around June. Daisaku Ikeda was born on January 2 of the same year.
It indeed signified a year of daybreak for the Soka Gakkai, the organization of the Buddha’s will and decree. At the dawn of the Soka Gakkai, Nichiren Shoshu had a new high priest who would later make a mistake transcribing the Gohonzon. Nichiren Shoshu’s darkness and the brightness of the Soka Gakkai contrasted vividly in 1928.
Afterward, as the priesthood grew darker, the Soka Gakkai, holding high the torch of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, illuminated the darkness of Nichiren Shoshu and Japanese society. The war ended in 1945, signifying the time when the Law was lost in Nichiren Shoshu but began to be propagated by the Soka Gakkai.
President Toda spoke in 1953 about the significance of the Soka Gakkai’s emergence:
Criticizing the integrity of the Soka Gakkai is not good at all. Apart from the Gakkai, you won’t get any benefit from this practice. I may sound arrogant, but High Priest Nichiko once told me, “If you had appeared 400 years ago, Nichiren Shoshu would have not been this destitute.” I replied, “Because you are alive now is why I have appeared later.” In fact, this high priest did appear in order to make the Gakkai stronger . . . The Gakkai is so strong in study because of his existence. In this way, High Priest Nichiko has appeared for the emergence of the Gakkai” (2nd Adachi Chapter General Meeting, May 17, 1953).
President Toda is talking about his relationship with Nichiko-[59th]. Noteworthy is the directness of his expression that “High Priest Nichiko has appeared for the emergence of the Gakkai.”
In recent years, Nikken would respond to such a statement from a great believer, by saying, “You are committing the slander of arrogance!” This is the degree to which the priesthood’s authority and power—qualities that have nothing to do with faith—have become rampant throughout today’s Nichiren Shoshu. Because President Toda’s remark is grounded in the profundity of Buddhism, it touches people in the depths of their lives.
President Toda also said:
This is the time when the Law has perished. Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction, as its branch temple roofs were falling and tatami mats were torn up. It was the Soka Gakkai that upheld the crumbling Nichiren Shoshu. High Priest Nichiko once said to me, “Mr. Toda, without you, Nichiren Shoshu would have collapsed.” The Gakkai emerged when Nichiren Shoshu was on the brink of bankruptcy (Headquarters Leaders Meeting, September 30, 1954).
President Makiguchi, “Man of Propagation” and “Man of Action”
The Soka Gakkai was born because of its first president, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.
Nichijun Horigome-[65th], just before he took office, gave a lecture at the second Soka Gakkai general meeting in 1947. He reminisced about President Makiguchi:
Mr. Makiguchi was a very compassionate person. He often quoted a Gosho passage that came from the Nirvana Sutra. It reads, “If one befriends another person but lacks the mercy to correct him, one is in fact his enemy.” This quote exactly reflected his life condition. He must have deeply felt it in his heart (October 19, 1947, from Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun).
He treated everyone equally and respectfully, including those whom he met for the first time. He always had a compassionate attitude toward people . . . On the other hand, he was very strict in his judgment and manner when handling issues. (Ibid.)
He was full of compassion but strict in dealing with others. (Ibid.)
Nichijun pointed out “compassion” and “strictness” in President Makiguchi’s character. Also, in Nichijun‘s eyes, Mr. Makiguchi was a man of propagation and a man of action:
As to Mr. Makiguchi and the topic of shakubuku (propagation), shakubuku was Mr. Makiguchi, and Mr. Makiguchi was shakubuku. The relationship between Sensei and shakubuku was important, but this is because Mr. Makiguchi had a tremendous capacity for compassion. He carried out shakubuku out of his irresistible desire to save people. He was true and faithful and strict in his shakubuku method. Nichiren states, “One who rids the offender of evil is acting as his parent.” This passage was his spiritual mainstay. Mr. Makiguchi gazed at the world of action in terms of value, so he seemed little interested in idealism. I think his act of shakubuku was a natural expression of his essential nature. Needless to say, Mr. Makiguchi pursued Nichiren Daishonin’s manner of shakubuku, putting faith in the Mystic Law. So it may be more accurate to say that his essential nature was revealed by the Mystic Law. (Ibid.)
Lastly, Nichijun spoke about President Makiguchi from an essential Buddhist perspective touching on the ultimate significance of the Gakkai’s emergence:
I am inclined to view Mr. Makiguchi from the view that he did not change simply because he encountered the Lotus Sutra, but rather he revealed his true self as, essentially, a messenger of the Buddha. I sense an indescribable dignity in him. He had many supporters, but he also had several enemies. I am compelled to put my palms together in respect for his spirit to fight through so many thorny paths and his humility toward truth and justice. (Ibid.)
President Makiguchi lived his life in exact accord with Nichiren’s teachings. From the depths of his life, Nichijun had a profound respect for Mr. Makiguchi. There is no boundary between priesthood and laity in his sincere sentiment.
Nichijun had deep respect for President Toda as well. He became 65th high priest in 1956. President Toda died on April 2, 1958. Right after that, Nichijun spoke about President Toda and the Soka Gakkai at the Gakkai’s 18th General Meeting:
As you know, the Lotus Sutra is expounded at Eagle Peak, where a huge number of Bodhisattvas of the Earth, headed by Bodhisattva Supreme Practices and followed by the three other leaders, vowed to propagate Myoho-renge-kyo without fail in the Latter Day of the Law. They have now emerged as you, which was a promise made at Eagle Peak. Mr. Toda took the initiative to call forth all of you to make the Soka Gakkai. Making the five and seven characters of Myoho-renge-kyo his 750,000 household propagation goal, he called forth all these Bodhisattvas of the Earth on this planet. (May 3, 1958, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun)
In this way, with clear expression, Nichijun defined the Buddhist significance of President Toda and the Soka Gakkai.
Moreover, he spoke in the following manner, making clear that the Soka Gakkai is the entity that promotes kosen-rufu, realizing the words of the Buddha; and that it is the organization of the Buddhas who emerged in a most timely manner. (Please keep in mind that this speech was given right after Mr. Toda’s passing, at a time when Japanese society was ridiculing the Soka Gakkai. The sentiment prevailed that the Gakkai would vanish into thin air with President Toda’s demise.):
The True Law will not spread widely without faith. This was the vow that the Buddha made. The sutra says, “In the last five-hundred-year period, the mystic way will spread and benefit humankind far into the future” (WND-1, p. 398). Without realization of this vow, it follows that the Buddha did not necessarily reveal the truth. Therefore, we are now at the stage where we will advance substantially toward kosen-rufu. President Toda built the foundation of this movement, and I think we will now make a further vigorous advance . . . Just a while ago, senior leaders, staff, and some of your representatives spoke with the same mind about your future promise. I think this is exactly what the Lotus Sutra refers to as “the gathering at Eagle Peak has not yet been dispersed.” In other words, your gathering is no different from the one that took place at Eagle Peak. Because of this, I deeply respect you. (Ibid.)
Here, he speaks about the idea of time expounded in Buddhism, referencing the life of Nichiren Daishonin and the era after his demise. Nichijun then praises the Soka Gakkai in light of the Lotus Sutra passage, “The gathering at Eagle Peak has not yet been dispersed.”
He wraps up with:
Nichiren Shoshu, in accord with your rhythm, is determined to work hard to respond to President Toda’s big undertaking. I conclude my speech by expressing my best wishes for your further great endeavors. (Ibid.)
Unfathomable compassion permeates his speech. No sign of authoritarianism or pursuit of power are seen in his remarks.
Nichijun contributed his New Year’s message to the January 1, 1959, issue of Seikyo Shimbun, asserting, “Without being a Bodhisattva of the Earth, he could not have accomplished all his great undertakings.”
Nichiren Shoshu Priesthood Commits One Wartime Slander After Another
Nichiren Daishonin writes:
Now, the Latter Day of the Law, is the time when only the seven characters of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—which is the heart of the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra that Shakyamuni Buddha, who achieved enlightenment in the remote past, Bodhisattva Superior Practices and others must spread—will spread throughout this country; and there will be advantage and benefit for all people, and the blessings of Bodhisattva Superior Practice will flourish. This will happen because it is clearly stated in the sutra. Those who are firm in their aspiration for the way and sincere in their resolve should inquire about this matter in detail. (WND-1, p. 878)
The Nichiren Shoshu priesthood turned rapidly corrupt with the 1873 government decree granting freedom of marriage to Japanese priests. Dark battles for the position of high priest were already being seen in the Meiji Period.
Powerful Nichiren Shoshu priests staged a successful coup against Nitchu-[58th] in the Taisho Period.
After the Showa Era unfolded, Nichiren Shoshu committed a string of slanders, including Nichikai’s erroneous Gohonzon transcription, deletion of Gosho passages, acceptance of the Shinto talisman, instructing lay believers to worship Shinto shrines, cooperating with the war effort, etc.
Nichiren Shoshu allowed military officers to enshrine the Shinto talisman at the Daishoin room of the head temple. Nikkyo-[62nd] perished in the high priest’s lodging quarters fire on June 17, 1945.
The national authority extensively persecuted the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai, the only organization that proudly upheld Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings exactly as he taught. President Makiguchi became a prison martyr on November 18, 1944.
Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction, having completely lost Nichiren’s correct teaching.
The first step toward propagation of this great Law started simultaneously with the near evaporation of its teaching. On July 3, 1945, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai General Director Josei Toda was released from the Toyotama Prison, where he had recently been transferred. A powerful intention to spread the True Law was burning in his heart, as he writes:
Around the time Mr. Makiguchi died, I was close to the accomplishment of chanting 2 million daimoku and had acquired a sublime life condition thanks to the great mercy of the Gohonzon. After that point, I lived my life with an incredible sense of joy of the Law that I mastered through reading the Lotus Sutra in the truest sense, while spending much of my time either dealing with the interrogation or chanting daimoku. Through the investigation in prison, I learned that all my comrades were quitting their practice. I felt so vexed. At the same time, I had an upsurge of appreciation to the Gohonzon. I made a determination to dedicate my entire life to the Buddha. (“The History and Conviction of the Soka Gakkai,” Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Nichiren Shoshu, which should have inherited the mainstream of Nichiren Buddhism, had become destitute as a result of the general punishment the entire school experienced.
The financial recovery of Taiseki-ji would begin in 1952, thanks to a new pilgrimage system launched under President Toda’s auspices.
With tremendous vigor, the Soka Gakkai, led by President Toda, was taking forward steps toward kosen-rufu, defying the impurities of society and the decline of Nichiren Shoshu.
|Taiseki-ji grounds as they appeared before President Toda initiated a pilgrimage system to support the destitute school.|
Unprecedented Commitment to Propagation Marks President Toda’s Inauguration
In his May 3, 1951, inauguration speech as second Soka Gakkai president, Josei Toda remarked:
Some think that we can achieve kosen-rufu by having the emperor embrace the Gohonzon and let him issue an official order to the nation to embrace Nichiren Buddhism. This is a ridiculous thought. What we mean by the term kosen-rufu is, according to today’s standard, that we convert each person from attachment to heretical teachings to the correct teaching of Nichiren Buddhism . . .
In other words, we achieve kosen-rufu through one-to-one propagation . . . Let’s devote our lives to serving the Gohonzon by introducing it to as many people as possible. (May 3, 1951, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Also at this inaugural, he expressed his determination as the new Soka Gakkai president:
Now, gaining great conviction through a wonderfully profound experience, I am determined to assume responsibility as president of the Soka Gakkai. Nichiren Daishonin, after establishing Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, wrote the “Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land.” Since then, some 700 years have passed. Today, Asia is in the midst of war, as the Chinese Communist power prevails on the continent and world military power is gathering in Korea.
If we do nothing to better the world under such circumstances, we will be rebuked at the meeting on Eagle Peak. We will unavoidably fall into hell. I will make many tough requests of you from now on, but please live up to them for kosen-rufu.
While I am alive, I will accomplish the conversion of 750,000 households under my leadership. If my vow cannot be fulfilled during my lifetime, don’t have a funeral for me. You can merely throw my ashes into the sea off Shinagawa. (Ibid.)
He declared the conversion of 750,000 households to Nichiren Buddhism would occur toward the achievement of kosen-rufu. Incidentally, it is reported that those who had signed to recommend Mr. Toda to the presidency of the Soka Gakkai numbered only some 3,800.
In November, President Toda called to Gakkai members at the 8th anniversary ceremony of President Makiguchi’s passing, at Kanki-ryo in Nakano, Tokyo:
Your fortune is great, as you stood up when Nichiren Shoshu was on the verge of extinction. Let’s believe in the Gohonzon and gain benefit. (November 18, 1951, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Nichiren Shoshu was perishing but then experienced a prosperity the school had never seen before thanks to support from the Soka Gakkai. The Nichiren Shoshu administration says, “Because the Law is supreme, it is a matter of course that Nichiren Shoshu prospers.”
Not only did Nichiren Shoshu fail to appreciate the Soka Gakkai’s vast support, but it went on to implement Operation C, a grand attempt to dissolve the Gakkai and take its members, putting them under its direct control as temple members.
Nichiren Shoshu’s actions are disrespectful and inhumane. Its administration cruelly disregards the selfless dedication lay believers employed in service of its prosperity. The priesthood takes such sincerity as a its just due, becoming more arrogant than ever.
Soka Gakkai Commences Great Advance in Sync With Establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo
President Toda repeatedly mentioned that the time of kosen-rufu was right at hand, especially when Nichiren Shoshu was on the decline and Nichiren Buddhism was about to perish.
In view of the Law, when Nichiren Daishonin appeared, T’ien-tai’s Lotus Sutra was almost dead. Now when the Soka Gakkai is about to flourish, Fuji Taiseki-ji was on the brink of death. Few believers were willing to protect the head temple or respect the local temple to which they belonged. Remaining were only selfish, less-motivated believers. In some awful cases, Nichiren temples only had six or seven member-households. To survive, priests still had to eat. Their temple roofs had fallen. Their tatami mats were torn up. Their main temples were in such horrible shape. It was a hard sight to see. Even today, when we go to outlying areas, we see many Nichiren Shoshu temples that look so pathetic. Just as the Lotus Sutra says, when the Law is perishing, it is the time for the propagation of the Law. (September 19, 1954, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
Buddhism supports President Toda’s great conviction, arrived at in prison, that the sign of the Great Law’s rise appears especially when the teaching is about to perish.
The 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is very significant in the movement to spread Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. President Toda shared his vow at the 6th general Soka Gakkai meeting, November 1951, with that auspicious anniversary soon to come.
President Toda’s great conviction and passion, expressed just before the 700th anniversary, wiped out all the obstacles and devilish functions and opened up the time of kosen-rufu.
Just before his own inauguration, Nichijun- commented on the Soka Gakkai’s great progress in rhythm with the 700th anniversary:
Some 900 years have already passed since the Latter Day began . . . Of course, the Latter Day of the Law does not end after the passing of 1,000 years. But the first 1,000 years of the Latter Day is coming to a close, and we have entered into the great time of kosen-rufu with the 700th anniversary of the establishment of this Buddhism as our turning point. I feel there is a profound promise behind the undertaking of propagating the True Law. In this regard, I sense that the Soka Gakkai’s connection with the Buddha is unfathomably profound. (January 1, 1956, Seikyo Shimbun)
On June 30, 1952, the year of the 700th anniversary of the establishment of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, President Toda wrote “The Significance of 700th Anniversary,” which reads in part:
Today, 700 years after the days of Nichiren Daishonin, the seven characters of the Lotus Sutra will doubtlessly save the people of Japan, Korea, China, India (and the world). In the Former and Middle Days of the Law, Buddhism traveled from west to east. In the Latter Day, Nichiren Daishonin predicts it will travel from east to west. This prediction must be realized without fail because the True Buddha made it. And I would assert that now, the 700th anniversary . . . is the time for propagating Nichiren Buddhism for the sake of kosen-rufu . . .
Today, the seven disasters are happening in Japan. The entire nation suffers from famine. She is also more visibly experiencing internal strife. I assert that this is the time when the fighters of shakubuku, who are deeply connected with the Daishonin, must emerge to fulfill their mission . . .
Under such circumstances, our Soka Gakkai, honorably, was born . . . We, the Soka Gakkai members, are the people selected by Nichiren Daishonin, the True Buddha in the Latter Day. We are his disciples, his subjects, his children. Let’s take the initiative to herald the reality of kosen-rufu by living up to the Buddha’s mandate, respond to the Buddha’s compassion, and practice the Buddha’s teaching. I also assert that our fortune will thus become boundless. Nichiren Daishonin will truly delight at our action to propagate his Gohonzon” (June 30, 1952, Complete Works of Josei Toda).
The profound message of Buddhism shines brilliantly in this thesis by President Toda.
Similarly, on the day after the Nichiren Shoshu Assembly took its disgraceful action to punish President Toda in light of the Ogasawara Incident, Mr. Toda revealed his unfathomable conviction in another thesis, titled “The Meaning of 700 Years.”
Bond of Mentor and Disciple Is the Foundation of Soka Gakkai
Nichijun-[65th], who was then General Administrator, addressed the 7th Soka Gakkai general meeting near the end of 1952, the 700th anniversary year, saying:
It is so noble that the Soka Gakkai has been steadily realizing the happiness of self and others for the sake of humanity’s happiness. The nobility of your endeavor is indescribable. The Gakkai is dedicated to such noble activities day and night with a great desire to establish correct faith in everybody’s heart . . . Nichiren Daishonin teaches that we can achieve the bodhisattva’s fundamental vow to chant daimoku, and practice the Law for ourselves and others. This bodhisattva way is not an easy one, but there is no other way than striving together every day for this great cause. I ask the Gakkai members to take responsibility for the great shakubuku movement for kosen-rufu.” (December 7, 1952, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun).
Nichijun, who became high priest in March 1956, placed great expectations and utmost trust upon the Soka Gakkai. On the meeting’s second day, he said:
I have been deeply moved by your research presentation, experiences, nationwide activity reports and determinations. To sum up all my impressions, I would say that Nichiren Daishonin’s soul is so vibrant within your lives. I feel you are inheriting the entirety of his life, and that we are going back to the days of the Daishonin who chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo without any complaints, as you guide the whole nation of Japan correctly.
Nichiren Shoshu is a school of Buddhism that should be the religion for all humankind. It is President Toda who shoulders this important Nichiren Shoshu. (December 8, 1952, Complete Works of High Priest Nichijun)
The Soka Gakkai is an organization devoted to accomplishing kosen-rufu, Nichiren Daishonin’s mandate. The bond of mentor and disciples is its foundation. With the oneness of mentor and disciple, we can break through all obstacles and devilish functions that stand in the way amid the battle for kosen-rufu, and all Soka Gakkai members can advance along the correct path of faith that enables them to attain Buddhahood.
For this very reason, obstacles and devilish functions aim to sever the ties of mentor and disciple.
Nichijun commented on the oneness of mentor and disciple right after President Toda’s passing:
What is the basis of faith in the world of the Soka Gakkai? It is the relationship between mentor and disciple. First confirming this relationship and thereby deepening one’s faith are most important. The strong faith of Soka Gakkai members derives from this very point. President Toda, I believe, taught this pivotal point in faith. When members believe in the mentor and the mentor guides them in faith, then there is no doubt that all correctly understand Buddhism. Therefore, the “Supernatural Powers of the Thus Come One” chapter [of the Lotus Sutra] states, “Such a person assuredly and without doubt will attain the Buddha way.” This passage indicates that your devotion to the way of mentor and disciple enables you to achieve this great life condition of Buddhahood. President Toda put this principle into action. I don’t think anybody other than Mr. Toda thought so much about President Makiguchi. He lived his life together with President Makiguchi more than he did with his parents. You will understand Buddhism especially when you pursue the way of discipleship toward your mentor. Through both first and second presidents, you can gain a correct way of practice and advancement. I sincerely wish that with the power of your unity you will respond to your current president’s earnest resolve. (June 1, 1958, Complete Works of Nichijun Shonin)
Nothing is as important in Buddhism as the bond of mentor and disciple.
President Toda: “Uphold the Third President. Then, You Can Achieve Kosen-rufu.”
I will entrust the third presidency upon the youth division, not to the disciples of Mr. Makiguchi, for they are already old. The third president will be just one person, but you should never be split under his leadership. Just as Mr. Makiguchi’s disciples are supporting me, my disciples should uphold the third president. I will entirely dedicate my life to kosen-rufu. You can throw my body in the offing of Shinagawa after my death. Or you can abandon it at any place you like. As long as you uphold the third president, you will be able to achieve kosen-rufu without fail. (February 17, 1952, Complete Works of Josei Toda)
As early as 1952, President Toda made reference to the importance of the future third Soka Gakkai president. To foster a gap between President Ikeda and us, his disciples, some deny that President Toda designated Daisaku Ikeda as the third president. This is groundless.
It could not happen that President Toda was dubious about designating the third president. It is a distorted view to claim he had possibly designated somebody other than President Ikeda.
The vast accomplishments under Honorary President Ikeda’s leadership since his 1960 inauguration as third president are beyond reckoning. No other leader could have achieved so much. We should view this reality humbly and open-mindedly. Kosen-rufu is progressing assuredly under Honorary President Ikeda.
All the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, centering on Honorary President Ikeda, the great general of propagation, will definitely overcome every sort of persecution and unsparingly spread the Great Law throughout the world.
 A group of priests within Nichiren Shoshu that were critical of the Soka Gakkai. After the death of Nittatsu (66) they challenged the legitimacy of Nikken as the next high priest. In January 1981, Shoshinkai priests filed a lawsuit against Nikken, seeking to nullify his status as high priest. The following year, Nikken expelled about 180 Shoshinkai priests from the priesthood.
 One who preaches the Buddhist Law, or teachings, out of the desire to gain fame or profit is reborn as a Law-devouring hungry spirit. They are so greedy that they expound teachings to the people for the purpose of earning a livelihood and accumulating riches.
 A new religion founded in 1924 in Japan. The name was later changed to the Church of Perfect Liberty.
 Bloody May Day (May 1, 1952)Every year on May 1, Japanese labor unions and political parties of the left hold big demonstrations that also serve as opportunities for political protest. The 1952 demonstrations in the public plaza in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were the first after the San Francisco Peace Treaty had been signed. Demonstrators opposed to the treaty terms entered the Imperial Palace grounds, which were off-limits, and clashed with police. A bloody battle ensued, in which police used teargas and fired pistols at the unarmed demonstrators, causing many deaths and injuries.
 Red Purge incident— a major sweep of Japanese Communist Party members and its supporters during the U.S. occupation of Japan. In 1949, mass dismissals of JCP members and union activists took place in government offices and private companies. Within the next year, the wave of unjust sacking covered all industries in Japan, ousting nearly 40,000 workers from their workplaces as “subversives.”
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