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. 

Soka Kyoiku Gakkai refused to bend to the pressure imposed by the military government to declare its support for the war.  At the same time that all religious schools in Japan openly declared in their publications their support for the war, Soka publication “Value Creation” refused to agree with the demanded of the military authorities to declare support to the war. 

On the contrary, as Andrew Gebert (Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Philosophy) and Monte Joffee (Ph.D., principal emeritus, The Renaissance Charter School, New York) - presented in their research:

        Just a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, in an article    

        carried in the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai's monthly periodical, Value Creation (Kachi sozo),

        Makiguchi walked a line close to open sedition when he wrote:

“We must strictly avoid following ideologies of uncertain origin that cannot be substantiated by actual proof - even if they may be the most time-honored tradition--and thereby sacrificing the precious lives of others and ourselves. In this sense, the question of [compulsory worship at] Shinto shrines must be re-thought as a matter of great urgency”.

        In May 1943 the government banned the publication of Value Creation and in July Makiguchi

        and his disciple, Josei Toda, were imprisoned”.

The first two founders of the Soka Gakkai were accused of being Criminals of Thinking”. for their refusal to bend to the military authorities thoughts and demands.  

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”.

The Soka Kyoiku Gakkai was the only Buddhist group which never agreed or published support to the war or Emperor worship - in contrast to all Buddhist sects which declared their support, opened their temples for training of soldiers, and provided prayers for the success of the Emperor’s “holy war”.


                                             Back to: “Nationalism Vs Humanism