Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International, is a leading Buddhist philosopher, author, poet and educator and the founder of multiple educational, cultural and research institutions.
Since becoming the third president of Soka Gakkai in 1960, he has worked to develop a grassroots, engaged Buddhist organization, first in Japan and then around the world. Under his leadership, Soka Gakkai has developed into an unparalleled international Buddhist movement, and has honed its objective of contributing to the peace and the welfare of society by promoting the values of culture, humanistic education and global citizenship.
Ikeda joined Soka Gakkai in 1947 at the age of 19 after meeting Josei Toda, who became his mentor and played a decisive role in his life. For more than 10 years, the young Ikeda helped Toda shape and develop the organization. Toda died in 1958, and two years later Ikeda was named to succeed him as president.
Ikeda expanded the organization beyond Japan to an international association with membership in 190 countries and territories. In 1975, he became the founding president of Soka Gakkai International, an association of more than 12 million members. Soka Gakkai International–USA, with as many as 300,000 members is the American affiliate.
Ikeda’s commitment to Soka Gakkai’s vision of world peace was shaped by the torment he witnessed during World War II, including seeing his four older brothers drafted into military service, with the eldest being killed in action. Since 1983, Ikeda has delivered an annual peace proposal to the United Nations. He also has traveled around the world to meet with many of the world’s leading thinkers, policymakers and scholars, including Nobel Peace Prize recipients Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Oscar Arias Sanchez and Linus Pauling as well as Rosa Parks and Arnold Toynbee, among others.
A prolific writer, Ikeda is the author or co-author of some 100 books, mainly on Buddhism, education and world peace. Among these works are Choose Life (translated into 24 languages), For the Sake of Peace and The Human Revolution.
He is also the founder of Soka University and Soka Women’s College in Japan, Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California, and the Soka school system, which includes kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Ikeda, who lives in Tokyo, is the recipient of numerous awards, including the United Nations Peace Award, the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award and more than 150 honorary doctorates and professorships from colleges and universities around the world.
BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF DAISAKU IKEDA
1928: Born into a family of Japanese seaweed producers
1947: Joins Soka Gakkai at the age of 19 and is mentored by Josei Toda
1960: Becomes the third president of Soka Gakkai following the death of Toda in 1958; expands Soka Gakkai’s vision to a worldwide movement. Establishes the U. S. chapter of Soka Gakkai, which later becomes Soka Gakkai International –USA, during his first overseas travel
1971: Founds Soka University of Japan in Tokyo, which currently enrolls more than 8,000 students in a broad range of undergraduate through Ph.D. programs.
1975: Establishes Soka Gakkai International, the association of domestic Soka Gakkai
1975: Presents United National General Secretary Kurk Waldheim a petition with 10 million signatures supporting the abolition of nuclear weapons
1983: Delivers his first annual peace proposal to the United Nations; receives U.N. Peace Award
1983: Founds the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, which houses more than 5,000 works of art
1989: Receives the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Humanitarian Award
1993: Founds the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, an international institute focused on fostering dialogue between scholars and activists on issues of peace, disarmament, human rights and the environment
1996: Founds the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in Tokyo (and Honolulu), whose purpose is to bring together peace researchers, policy makers and community activists
2001: Founds Soka University of America, a non-sectarian, four-year liberal arts college. Today, the school is accredited and has 400 students from more than 32 countries.