Soka Gakkai during the II W W

The belief in the “superiority” of the Japanese nation runs in conflict with Nichiren’s Buddhism which advocates equality and reverence to the inherent Buddha nature in all people. Not surprisingly the nationalist military authorities in II World War treated the Soka Gakkai with animosity: its publication was banned, and its first two founders were charged with being “Thought Criminals”.

Banning the Soka Gakkai and arresting its leaders (1943) by the nationalist authorities was the result of a deeper cause than merely the Soka Gakkai’s straightforward refusal to accept the militarists authorities demand for submission to Emperor Worship. Rejecting the tendencies of nationalism altogether was at the root of Mr Makiguchi’s beliefs long before the war, advocating the concept of “Humanitarian competition” among nations, rather than military conflicts.

The anti-war nature of the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai and its aim for peace and tranquillity for all people was apparent in its 1941 declaration:

Our organization, consisting of those who embrace the Three Great Secret Laws, the essence of the Lotus Sutra, strives to achieve peace and tranquillity for all”.

Just two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Soka publication (20 December 1941) warned of the government’s reliance on the Shinto’s beliefs resulting in sacrificing people’s livesRefusal of obedience to the militarist authorities resulted in the arrest (in 1943) of the founders of the Soka organisation: Makiguchi and Toda, who were charged with violation of the Peace Preservation Law - including blasphemy (their stand against the “Emperor Worship”).

The Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was the only Buddhist group to oppose the Cult of Emperor’s Worship during the war, in contrast to all Buddhist sects which declared their support and provided prayers for the militarists’ success in their “holy war”.


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