Volume 30: Chapter 1, Great Mountain 41–50
Great Mountain 41
Hearing Kiyoshi Jujo’s explanation enabled the participants of the prefecture leaders meeting to understand Shin’ichi’s reasons for deciding to step down as Soka Gakkai president, but they still had difficulty coming to terms with the reality of his resignation.
Jujo continued: “President Yamamoto will not only be resigning as Soka Gakkai president, but also as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations. He is taking this latter step to take full responsibility for the recent problems that have arisen between the Soka Gakkai and the priesthood.
“Unavoidably, our first reaction to President Yamamoto stepping down is sadness, but it is important for us to genuinely understand his decision and his intent, and to make a bright start toward the future, I believe.
“Though it may test our limited abilities, joining together and building a Soka Gakkai about which President Yamamoto can rest assured is surely the course we should take as disciples, is it not?
“As for the process of announcing this development, this afternoon the Soka Gakkai Executive Council will convene to accept President Yamamoto’s request to step down, and this will be followed by a press conference to make the official announcement.”
Jujo finished speaking. There was no applause. The eyes of many of the women’s division leaders were red and puffy with tears. Some of the men’s division leaders gazed blankly at the ceiling. Some youth division leaders bit their lips to control their emotions as they stared ahead with angry eyes.
At that moment, Shin’ichi Yamamoto entered the room.
“Sensei!” the members called out in unison.
Walking to the front of the audience from a side door, Shin’ichi said with energy: “What drama! It makes things interesting, doesn’t it? The struggle for kosen-rufu is always turbulent.”
After chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo three times with the assembled leaders, Shin’ichi sat down in a chair behind a table and gazed at the faces of those present. Everyone waited in suspense for him to speak.
“It’s exactly as you have just heard. But you have nothing to worry about. I will continue to strive my hardest in my own capacity. There is no end to the struggle for kosen-rufu. After all, I am a disciple of Josei Toda!”
He was a lion standing dauntless amid raging winds. The pride of Soka mentors and disciples burns brightly in the form of courage.
Great Mountain 42
Shin’ichi said powerfully: “It’s important from now on for you to unite around the new president and work together to build a new Soka Gakkai. I’ll continue watching over you. There’s no need to be sad. This is the start of a great new journey.”
Someone in the room shouted: “Sensei, please don’t step down!”
Some of the members were sobbing, and gradually the sound grew. Some wept openly.
One men’s division leader rose and asked: “What will happen to you now?”
“Nothing is going to change with me. I will stay just as I am. Whatever my position, I will simply continue my efforts as a person who is dedicated to fulfilling the mission of a Bodhisattva of the Earth. I am a disciple of Josei Toda, who devoted his life to kosen-rufu.”
A youth division leader asked, as if seeking confirmation: “You will still remain our mentor even after you step down, won’t you?”
“I’ve taught you all the fundamental principles, haven’t I? As youth, you mustn’t let yourselves get emotional over something like this. I want you to declare, ‘It’s a new age! Let’s give it our best!’ and take the lead in encouraging our members. Be fearless!”
One hand after another went up for questions.
“Would it be possible for you to come and attend the prefecture leaders meetings?” asked a men’s division leader.
“You need to carry on with your new president in the lead. You can’t depend upon me forever. Up to now, I have put all my energy into guiding you and helping you develop into capable leaders. I have taught and shared with you everything you need. Every school has a graduation day.”
“Could you visit the prefectures to offer guidance? Please, come to our prefecture,” said a women’s division leader, tears in her eyes.
“Thank you. But please remember that I’ve already visited every prefecture many times. From now on, I would like to devote more time to visiting other countries around the world for the sake of peace. There are places that are on the verge of war. I want to do whatever I can to prevent that.”
Shin’ichi’s words brimmed with his fighting spirit for peace.
Great Mountain 43
A man in the center of the room stood up. He was a prefecture leader from the Tohoku region who was still in his 30s. He shouted, as if angry with the meeting participants: “You’re all talking as if Sensei’s resignation is a done deal. I think that’s wrong. I can’t comprehend it!”
The room fell silent.
Then, Shin’ichi spoke: “It’s fine for everyone to take my resignation as a fact. That’s what I’ve decided. If it creates a fresh current and protects the members, I think that’s a good thing.
“Instead of shouting angrily, the Soka Gakkai needs to advance in unity, with harmony and calm. If you share my spirit, then now is the time to warmly encourage the members and lift everyone’s spirits. You must all stand up and take the lead as individuals who embody the same commitment I do!
“Although founding Soka Gakkai president Tsunesaburo Makiguchi died in prison, his disciple Mr. Toda stood up alone to carry on his mentor’s vision. Under his leadership, the Soka Gakkai developed dramatically, achieving a membership of 750,000 households. When President Toda died, I vowed to establish a solid foundation for kosen-rufu in Japan and create a movement for worldwide kosen-rufu without fail. And today, the Daishonin’s Buddhism has spread around the globe.
“All things have milestones and endings. The end of one thing is the beginning of another. Resolute determination is needed for a fresh departure. The bright flame of commitment, a passionate vow, is needed. Stand up! All of you, stand up as courageous successors. Have you got that? That’s my request. I’m counting on you.”
The prefecture leaders meeting came to close, many of those attending still in tears.
No matter what happens, as long as the solemn Soka spirit of mentor and disciple beats in the members’ hearts, a new path will open and kosen-rufu will continue to develop.
That afternoon, a meeting of the Soka Gakkai Executive Council was held. There, Shin’ichi’s request to step down was presented and accepted. The proposed new Soka Gakkai rules and regulations were also considered and adopted. Based on them, Kiyoshi Jujo was appointed the next Soka Gakkai president and Kazumasa Morikawa, the new general director. Shin’ichi was designated honorary president.
For Shin’ichi, this marked the start of a new chapter in the grand drama of his life.
Great Mountain 44
The Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations, adopted by the Soka Gakkai Executive Council on April 24, set forth the basic rules relating to the organization’s religious activities as well as its governance, operation, and the guidance and instruction of its membership. In other words, they provided a fundamental code for the Soka Gakkai’s activities as a religious organization.
Up to this time, the organization had been run based on the existing Rules of the Soka Gakkai, which set forth its rules as a religious corporation, as well as several sets of guidelines and rules relating to specific areas of its operation. The latter of these included the Executive Council Rules of Procedure and the Personnel Committee Rules of Procedure, as well as various precedents and conventions that had developed over the years since the organization was established.
These many overlapping rules, regulations, and precedents of the past were organized and set down in writing to form the new Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations. This was done to better respond to the dramatic and multidimensional growth of the organization and to prepare the way forward into a new era following the completion of the Seven Bells.
The Rules and Regulations consisted of 15 chapters. They stated that the president and general director were to be selected by the Executive Council from within its ranks and that each would serve for a term of five years1.
At the same Executive Council meeting, Vice President Genji Samejima’s request to resign from his position was submitted and accepted.
From around noon, after the prefecture leaders meeting, news of Shin’ichi Yamamoto’s impending resignation as Soka Gakkai president was reported on radio and television. The reports added that he was also expected to resign from his post as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations and that Kiyoshi Jujo was likely to become the new Soka Gakkai president, with President Yamamoto being named honorary president. Reports of these changes had already spread even before their official announcement.
The news came as a complete shock to members throughout Japan. Some rejected them outright, thinking “I can’t believe it! The reports can’t be true!” while others wondered whether they might be correct. Still others were outraged and couldn’t comprehend why President Yamamoto should have to step down.
The Soka Gakkai Headquarters was swamped with phone calls, many of them angry, from members wanting to know what was going on. Some of the callers were crying. The switchboard operators were overwhelmed as they tried to respond.
A ship crossing the ocean is sometimes buffeted by raging waves. Only by overcoming fierce gales and rough seas can it reach a new shore. Shin’ichi stood at the bow, braving the wind.
Great Mountain 45
After the prefecture leaders meeting, Shin’ichi Yamamoto remained at the Shinjuku Culture Center. He spoke with and encouraged women’s division leaders who were more shocked than anyone by his imminent departure as president. He also had several meetings lined up with guests, and that took up a considerable amount of his time.
That evening, the Soka Gakkai was scheduled to hold a press conference, but the headlines of the evening newspapers, which went on sale mid-afternoon, blared that Shin’ichi was set to step down, and that Kiyoshi Jujo was slated to become the new Soka Gakkai president. The newspaper reports also mentioned Shin’ichi’s article “Thoughts on the Completion of the Seven Bells,” which ran in the Seikyo Shimbun that day, calling it an announcement of his resignation.
From early that evening, newspaper, television, and radio journalists began to arrive at the Seikyo Shimbun building, where the press conference was to be held, and by 6:00 p.m. the room was packed with several dozen reporters.
When the newly appointed Soka Gakkai president, Kiyoshi Jujo, and general director, Kazumasa Morikawa, made their appearance together with Vice Presidents Eisuke Akizuki, Hisaya Yamamichi, and others at 7:00 p.m., there was a flurry of snapping shutters and camera flashes.
Shin’ichi had decided to delay his arrival until 30 minutes after the start of the event, in deference to the new president.
At the press conference, Akizuki announced that the Soka Gakkai Executive Council had earlier that day accepted President Yamamoto’s request to step down and named him honorary president. He also said that former General Director Jujo had been appointed president, and Vice President Morikawa, general director.
He explained that Shin’ichi wished to step down in order to dedicate all his energy to activities for peace, culture, and education having now reached this major milestone for the Soka Gakkai, the end of the Seven Bells, with a new governance structure and operational mechanisms in place, along with a capable new leadership team.
Many of the journalists had heard that Shin’ichi would be resigning, but hadn’t thought it would be quite so soon.
The Soka Gakkai had achieved unprecedented development because it had always looked to the future and taken speedy, proactive measures for its continued growth.
Great Mountain 46
At the press conference, Kiyoshi Jujo, looking somewhat tense, voiced his aspirations as the new Soka Gakkai president: “I have been appointed to succeed President Yamamoto, under a new system of administration and leadership for the Soka Gakkai. President Yamamoto has to date given us, the executive leadership, sufficient instruction so that we can work together as a team to run the organization. The Soka Gakkai’s basic direction will remain unchanged. Taking on the job of president is a big responsibility, but with a renewed determination, I will do my very best to fulfill my duties.
“The Soka Gakkai will now advance toward the 21st century, setting a series of four five-year milestones to mark our progress. In the first five-year period, in particular, we will focus on fostering capable individuals. We will also aim to develop the Soka Gakkai into a stable force for peace in society to ensure that war will never happen again.”
At this point, Shin’ichi Yamamoto arrived.
Smiling at the reporters, he thanked them for coming and nodded to Jujo before taking a seat next to him.
Immediately, a reporter asked Shin’ichi: “What are you feeling at this moment? And could you please tell us your reasons for stepping down?”
“I feel a great sense of relief, as if I have put down a heavy load. But I also feel as if I have taken on a new load, in that I will be watching over the continued development of the Soka Gakkai as it moves forward under the leadership of its new president. They won’t let me rest and relax, I’m afraid!”
The reporters laughed, and the somewhat heavy mood of the press conference was transformed, a smile spreading across Jujo’s face as well. Shin’ichi wanted to make the new leadership’s start a bright and positive one.
Humor dispels gloom.
Shin’ichi continued: “As, I think, has already been explained, my main reason for stepping down is that I decided that it’s really too long for one individual to serve as the head of the organization, as I have done for nearly 20 years. For some time now, I have been thinking of making way for successors in the hope that it might lead to dynamic, new creative accomplishments. I am also a bit weary. But I am only 51, and at this age, I can still continue to watch over and support everyone.”
Life is a continuous struggle.
Great Mountain 47
Responding to questions from the reporters, Shin’ichi shared his future plans: “The Soka Gakkai, with the goal of world peace, will be carrying out an increasingly broad range of activities for peace, education, and culture, based on Buddhism. I would like to devote my time to such efforts.”
The reporters’ questions continued: “Will the relationship between the Soka Gakkai and the Komei Party change as a result of this change in the presidency?”
What appeared to interest the reporters most was the Soka Gakkai’s involvement in politics.
Smiling, Shin’ichi replied: “That’s something you’ll have to ask the new president. But I assume it will remain unchanged, won’t it?” he said, looking inquiringly at Jujo next to him.
Jujo nodded emphatically.
“Yes, it seems it will remain the same,” said Shin’ichi.
Once again, the reporters laughed.
“In other words,” he continued, “as it has until now, the Soka Gakkai will remain a supporting body of the Komei Party. It is my hope that the Komei Party will continue to develop and become renowned as the party making the greatest contribution to the Japanese people.”
Shin’ichi replied openly and directly to every question.
The press conference came to an end shortly before 8:00 p.m.
The young women at the front reception desk of the Seikyo Shimbun building looked at Shin’ichi with worried expressions.
He smiled and said: “Everything’s fine! Nothing has changed for me.”
Then, he went into a separate room for a discussion with youth division leaders.
Shin’ichi spoke with urgency, as if pouring his entire being into his words: “No matter what situation I may be placed in, as long as the youth strive in earnest, a bright future lies ahead. The true test for disciples is not when they are striving while receiving daily guidance and instruction from their mentor. That’s a period of training. Their real test is when their mentor is no longer directly taking leadership. But when the mentor steps back, some disciples take advantage of it to do as they please, and forget the Soka Gakkai spirit. The same happened when Mr. Toda stepped down as general director. You mustn’t be like that. Stand up resolutely in my stead! You must each become a ‘Shin’ichi’!”
Great Mountain 48
It was just before 10:00 p.m. when Shin’ichi Yamamoto left the Seikyo Shimbun building and headed home. The sky was covered in clouds, hiding the moon and the stars.
One act in the drama of his life had closed. When he thought of this, he felt a rush of deep emotion.
The course of action he had taken was all his own decision, motivated by his concern for the future of kosen-rufu and the Soka Gakkai, harmony between the priesthood and laity, and the welfare of his beloved fellow members.
He thought: “Stormy seas will continue to buffet the Soka Gakkai, and it will have to navigate its way through them. My taking full responsibility for various issues and resigning like this may calm the waters for a time, but the real problem is the oppression and harassment by the priesthood, which happened in the past and is likely to happen again in the future. This is going to be a matter of the gravest concern for the Soka Gakkai as it strives to advance kosen-rufu.
“The plotting of priests seeking to control the Soka Gakkai and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of individuals who have discarded their faith and turned against the Gakkai are the workings of the devil king of the sixth heaven and the embodiment of ‘evil demons taking possession of others’ (cf. LSOC13, 233) to destroy the kosen-rufu movement. Unless there are courageous individuals who can see through this with the eyes of faith and are ready to fight with an impassioned spirit to ensure that no one inflicts suffering on our members, it will be impossible to protect the Soka Gakkai, and the path forward for kosen-rufu will be completely blocked.”
Shin’ichi was deeply concerned when he thought of the future.
His wife, Mineko, was waiting for him with a smile at the entrance to their home. When he came in and sat down, she poured him a cup of tea.
“I’m no longer president,” said Shin’ichi.
She smiled and nodded: “You have worked very hard all these years. I’m just glad you still have your health. Now you can meet with many more members. You can visit them all around the world. You have your freedom. Now you can begin your true work.”
He felt as if a ray of sunshine had brightened his heart.
In the 19 years since his wife had designated the day of his inauguration as a “funeral for the Yamamoto family,” she had earnestly supported and worked alongside him. She knew that he was now determined to begin traveling for the sake of peace, aiming for the realization of worldwide kosen-rufu. Filled with deep gratitude, Shin’ichi recognized again how wonderful it was to have a partner who shared in his struggles.
Great Mountain 49
Late at night on April 24, Shin’ichi opened his diary. Recalling the events of the day, he felt a tumult of emotion.
“This day that should have marked our fresh, hope-filled departure toward the 21st century was all too somber,” he thought. “The members attending the prefecture leaders meeting looked heavyhearted . . . .”
He picked up his pen and wrote to record this day for posterity.
After he had finished with his diary entry, he thought: “The second act in my life’s drama has now opened! A great epic of formidable challenges and triumphs is beginning!”
And he vowed to himself: “I am not afraid of adversity! I am a lion. I am a direct disciple of the great leader of kosen-rufu, Josei Toda. I will foster new young people and once more, with fresh determination, work to build an indestructible Soka Gakkai!”
Shin’ichi felt a passionate fighting spirit arise from the depths of his being. Some words he had cherished since his youth flashed through his mind: “The greater the resistance waves meet, the stronger they grow.”
That evening, emergency meetings were held throughout the country to announce Shin’ichi’s resignation and the new leadership appointments.
At a meeting in Kansai, a leader recited a poem that Shin’ichi had dedicated to Toda when the latter stepped down as Soka Gakkai general director: “Still serving / an old / and mystic bond— / though others change, / I alter not.”
The leader then declared powerfully: “As this poem says, even though President Yamamoto has stepped down, he will remain our mentor here in Kansai forever!”
Everyone raised their fists and shouted in a show of solidarity.
Radio and television news that evening reported on the press conference announcing Shin’ichi’s resignation.
For Soka Gakkai members, it was a tremendous shock.
But many of them told themselves: “If President Yamamoto has decided to step down, it must have some great, profound significance. This is precisely the time when genuine disciples should dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to kosen-rufu and put President Yamamoto’s mind at ease.”
They remained firmly united with their mentor.
Great Mountain 50
On April 25, the morning after the dramatic events of the day before, the front page of the Seikyo Shimbun carried the headline, “The Completion of the Seven Bells and a New Leadership Lineup.” The article announced that the Soka Gakkai was embarking on a fresh start under new leadership, with the appointment of Kiyoshi Jujo as the new Soka Gakkai president and Kazumasa Morikawa as the new general director. It also said that Shin’ichi Yamamoto, who had stepped down as president, was now named honorary president, adding further that he had also resigned as chief representative of all Nichiren Shoshu lay organizations.
A message from Shin’ichi titled “To Members throughout Japan” also appeared on the front page. In it, he outlined his three main reasons for stepping down, which had been conveyed by Jujo at the prefecture leaders meeting the previous day. Looking toward the approaching start of the 1980s, he added: “I hope you will support the new president and do everything you can to further the development of the Soka Gakkai so that it becomes a trusted and stable presence in society and the world.”
Many members read Shin’ichi’s message over and over. While they now understood how his resignation came about, they had only just learned of it the previous day and were still in a state of shock and confusion.
From 1:30 that afternoon, the April Soka Gakkai Headquarters Leaders Meeting commemorating the completion of the Seven Bells was held in the Kosen-rufu Hall of the Soka Gakkai Culture Center in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Normally, all the participants would be in high spirits, but today, their expressions were grave. They wondered what would happen to President Yamamoto and the Soka Gakkai, and their concern and anxiety robbed them of their smiles.
When they entered the hall, the atmosphere had felt somehow different. The table and chair that were always set on the left side at the front of the room for Shin’ichi to give his speech were not there. That contributed to everyone’s feeling of sadness.
Presently, Shin’ichi entered the hall. Cries of delight rang through the room.
Shin’ichi said confidently with a smile: “Let’s give three cheers together! This is a fresh departure for the Soka Gakkai. The Gakkai always advances dauntlessly! Remember, lions are always lions!”
His powerful voice filled the members with courage.
The fighting spirit of one person can rouse the fighting spirit in everyone’s heart. As Nichiren Daishonin writes: “When the lion king . . . roars, the hundred cubs will then feel emboldened” (WND-1, 949).
The bright voices of the cheering members filled the hall.
- *1The Soka Gakkai Rules and Regulations have gone through several revisions since then.