Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.17]

31.17 A Humanistic Newspaper—the Seikyo Shimbun

The Seikyo Shimbun, the Soka Gakkai’s newspaper, was born through the united efforts of Presidents Toda and Ikeda, with its first issue published on April 20, 1951. In this selection, President Ikeda writes about the starting point and mission of the Seikyo Shimbun, which continues to impart hope and courage to people around the world.

Mr. Toda first mentioned the idea of starting a Soka Gakkai newspaper in August 1950. This was right at the time when the credit union he ran fell into financial difficulty and was forced to suspend business operations.

That day [August 24], Mr. Toda and I had gone to a coffee shop in Tokyo’s Toranomon area to meet with a newspaper reporter who had learned of the credit union’s business suspension. On our way back, Mr. Toda said to me with great feeling: “Newspapers have more power than you can imagine in today’s world. Owning a newspaper means having tremendous influence. The Soka Gakkai needs to have its own paper someday, preferably soon. Daisaku, please put your mind to it.”

Four months later, in December, in a cheap restaurant near Tokyo’s Shimbashi Station, he brought up the subject to me again, saying decisively: “Let’s start a newspaper, a Soka Gakkai newspaper. We are entering an age of mass media.” Though facing a barrage of criticism because of his business troubles, he dauntlessly kept looking toward the distant future of kosen-rufu.

Then, one cold night in February 1951, he said to me: “Let’s get started on the newspaper now. I’ll be the president, and you be vice president. Let’s be bold!” I will never forget how heroic he looked as he said this.

The first issue of the Seikyo Shimbun came out two months later, on April 20. Initially a single sheet printed on both sides, the paper was published once every 10 days with a run of 5,000 copies. Today, it is a daily paper with a circulation of 5.5 million. When I think of this phenomenal growth, those early days seem like a lifetime ago. The paper began with a small step, but Mr. Toda’s vision for it was grand.

When discussing names, there were several proposals: Bunka Shimbun (Culture Newspaper), Soka Shimbun (Value-Creation Newspaper), and Sekai Shimbun (World Newspaper). Mr. Toda even suggested with a laugh: “Thinking far ahead in the future, how about we call it Uchu Shimbun (Universe Newspaper)?”

Eventually, we decided on Seikyo Shimbun (Sacred Teachings Newspaper)—after a term for the Daishonin’s teachings—as Mr. Toda wished to create a newspaper that would communicate the essence of Nichiren Buddhism, the fundamental Law of the universe, to people all over the world.

For the first issue, Mr. Toda personally penned the main front-page article, titled “What Is Faith?” He also contributed an installment of his serialized novel, Ningen kakumei (Human Revolution), and a column named “Suntetsu” (Epigrams), both of which he continued writing tirelessly along with other articles for subsequent issues.

I, too, wrote articles, as well as a column introducing historical figures, such as Lord Byron, the English poet of revolution and passion; Beethoven, the great musician who struggled with destiny; and Napoleon, the hero of youthful advance.

I also remember with nostalgia how, as the head of the public relations department, I wrote many hard-hitting articles, full of youthful passion, to correct the false and inaccurate reporting on the Soka Gakkai by other media. I was determined that the Seikyo Shimbun would always report the truth.

Both Mr. Toda and I poured our lives into writing articles for the paper, regarding them as personal letters to our dear fellow members.

Mr. Toda used to say that he wanted the people of Japan and the world to read our paper. From the beginning of 1956—the year the paper would celebrate its fifth anniversary—he started to send it to heads of government throughout Asia. The list of recipients numbered 10, including Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister of India; Ramon Magsaysay, the president of the Philippines; Mao Zedong, the chairman of the People’s Republic of China; and Zhou Enlai, China’s premier. In the accompanying letter, Mr. Toda wrote: “It is my hope that this newspaper may prove useful in deepening your understanding of Buddhism in some small way and thereby contribute to your even greater endeavors for the development of Eastern civilization.”

Mr. Toda regarded the Seikyo Shimbun as a means for opening the way to friendship and peace in Asia. Many laughed at his efforts, calling them absurd, but I have devoted myself to realizing those ideals, acting without hesitation to fulfill his wishes.

Mahatma Gandhi, the great human rights champion born in the East, continued to publish his newspapers even while in prison. The autobiography he began writing at that time was also serialized in them, and tens of millions of readers devoured every installment. It was through newspapers that he articulated his belief in nonviolent resistance and inspired the people.

We, too, have used the Seikyo Shimbun to speak out for truth and justice, undeterred by opposition and harassment, and spread throughout the world a new humanism, Soka humanism, based on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin.

A respected Japanese thinker has declared that today the Soka Gakkai and the Seikyo Shimbun are the conscience of Japan.

All of this is due solely to our members’ noble efforts.

Our world right now, at the century’s close, is clouded in gloom. Misinformation and lies run rampant. Society seems lost in a maze, without any guiding philosophy.

Against that background, it is the mission of the Seikyo Shimbun, a paper dedicated to speaking out for truth and justice, to rise like a sun of hope and illuminate the 21st century.

I will write. I am determined to continue writing. Let us all join forces to further develop this magnificent “bastion of the pen” of the people.

From an essay series “Thoughts on The New Human Revolution,” published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun, April 15, 1998.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.