Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist group leader Daisaku Ikeda dies at 95

Daisaku Ikeda, the longtime leader of the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, one of the largest religious groups in Japan, and founder of Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, died of old age Wednesday at his Tokyo home, the group said. He was 95.

File photo taken at a hotel in Tokyo in May 2008, shows Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist group leader Daisaku Ikeda. (Kyodo)

Ikeda became the third president of Soka Gakkai, with a claimed membership of over 8.27 million households, in 1960. The group provides a powerful electoral base for Komeito.

Ikeda established Komeito’s predecessor political group in 1961 and formed Komeito in 1964. In the wake of a controversy over the separation of politics and religion, he became focused on the activities of Soka Gakkai, though he remained influential in politics.

Ikeda assumed the post of the group’s honorary president in 1979, four years after establishing Soka Gakkai International, which claims 2.8 million members in over 190 countries and territories.

Upholding the “humanistic philosophy” of Nichiren Buddhism, Ikeda engaged in dialogue with world leaders and intellectuals, including the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, on measures to build global peace, according to Soka Gakkai’s website.

Ikeda was born in Tokyo in 1928 to a family of seaweed manufacturers. His experience of life during World War II, propelled him to work for peace, the website says.

“I cannot contain my deep sorrow.” current Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada said in a video posted online.

“Ikeda left a great mark on history through his efforts to promote peace, culture and education in Japan and abroad,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.


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