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Lives of the Founding Presidents

The first three presidents of the Soka Gakkai—Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda—are known as the founding presidents and are the mentors of the organization.

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi
(1871–1944) founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (the forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) on November 18, 1930, together with his disciple Josei Toda and served as the organization’s first president. An educator and philosopher, he was imprisoned during World War II for opposing the policies of Japan’s militarist government and died in prison.

Josei Toda (1900–58), Makiguchi’s disciple and a fellow educator, cofounded the forerunner of the Soka Gakkai and was imprisoned together with his mentor during the war. On his release from prison he reestablished the Soka Gakkai and developed a membership of some 750,000 households throughout Japan by the time of his death.

Daisaku Ikeda (1928–2023) joined the Soka Gakkai at the age of 19 after an encounter with Josei Toda. Taking Toda as his lifelong mentor, he worked closely with him to develop the organization, becoming its third president in 1960. In 1975, the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) was established as an international association of the Soka Gakkai, linking constituent Soka Gakkai organizations around the world, and Ikeda became its president. He remained active in efforts to develop a multifaceted international network for peace, culture and education until his passing in 2023.

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