In 1928, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, an educational reformist, and his disciple and fellow educator, Josei Toda, embraced faith in Nichiren Buddhism.

Mr. Makiguchi believed that education should help individuals develop fulfilling lives of value and contribute to others’ happiness. With Mr. Toda’s assistance, he compiled his educational approach into a work titled Soka kyoikugaku taikei (The System of Value-Creating Education). Its first volume was published on Nov. 18, 1930, which also marks the Soka Gakkai’s founding.

Over the next decade, this organization grew from a small gathering of educators to a bold religious movement that sought to transform society through the practical application of Nichiren Buddhism.

As the Japanese government ramped up its war efforts, Mr. Makiguchi launched a fierce critique of its oppressive tactics to limit freedom of thought and expression. In July 1943, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda were arrested for refusing to discard their faith.

Mr. Makiguchi never renounced his beliefs despite enduring harsh interrogations. Due to advanced age and malnutrition, his life came to a close on Nov. 18, 1944.

Following his release from prison in 1945, Mr. Toda rebuilt the Soka Gakkai. He later entrusted the organization to his successor, Daisaku Ikeda, who expanded it into a global network. At age 92, Ikeda Sensei continues to spare no effort in leading worldwide kosen-rufu.

The legacy of the three founding presidents lives on, with 12 million SGI members striving to awaken the infinite power of hope in the life of each person they encounter.

“The decade from the Soka Gakkai’s 90th anniversary [in 2020] to its centennial in 2030 will be crucial,” Sensei writes. “We must be even more determined to show victorious proof of our own human revolution, to transform all great evil into great good and to effect a powerful change in the destiny of all humankind” (Sept. 18 World Tribune, p. 3).