An ugly storm brewing in Soka Gakkai – Japan

Serious allegations are flying around the social media about corruption and misconduct of Soka Gakkai top executives in Japan, even demanding the resignation of SGI President Harada. There are photos of hundreds of demonstrators outside the Hall of Great Vow with large banners, as well as a youtube video of an hour long press conference by three former Soka Gakkai staff members.

As members of Soka Gakkai, what are we to do when we hear or were forwarded links of such information to our mobile phone? Should we delete it immediately like a deadly virus? Or should we spend hours reading and learning about the issues and allegations? How would SGM top executives respond?

In the past, these allegations were categorically denied as baseless by top executives, claiming they were unsubstantiated, fabricated and even part of a plot to takeover Gakkai or out to taint the good name of our mentor. All members should stay away, we were urged, and regard all attacks simply as motivated by malicious people and a manifestation of sansho shima that aim to derail our kosen-rufu effort.

Does it work? Yes. All the time. In the past.

Mainly because information was scarce and controlled by the top executives of SGM. They can decide whether to share or not to, and how much information to share. Members have no alternative means to gather more information from credible sources.

It worked. In the past, of course. This controversial information was easily relegated to the side and we go on happily with our kosen-rufu activities.

Today? No longer… Our environment has changed.

One, information travels at light speed. It can reach thousands in minutes. Top executives of SGM, the ECC, do not have a choice like before. Now, it is either you become part of the discussion or not. It is way more damaging to the organization if SGM decides to stay out and maintain their elegance silence. This is often seen as a sign of guilt, complicity and cover up. Erosion of trust, the most precious commodity in any religious organisation, continues.

In the past two years, SGM used the old approach towards Johor issue, giving little to no information from the top. And failed spectacularly, with over 400 leaders resigning out of frustration, disappointment and heartache. We are still very much reeling from the effect till today.

Two, people are more educated and aware of the possible corruption in large organization. Especially religious organization. Hollywood even made an award winning movie out of it – Spotlight. [By the way, it is great movie.] Answers that are not answers, like blaming evil forces, conspiracy theories and sansho shima, do not work anymore. People are not as gullible as before.

Unless SGM top executives learn new strategies, adapt to the new environment and rise to the challenge of this new generation, they would not gain the respect and trust of more thinking leaders in SGM. Kosen-rufu will not move ahead, but backwards because we will experience a brain drain, the departure of capable people.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that SGM need to respond to every allegation. The big ones, the burning questions, though, SGM must respond with speed.

As for leaders in general, what should we do? Put our heads in the sand? Employ selective listening? Keep harping on evil attacking us and therefore we need to unite and support GD, shouting justice will prevail? Or read them and understand the issue involved? How should I approach these sensitive matters?

These are a few things we believe that as SGM members we need to keep in mind. Of course, each person is different and we also believe that different people will respond differently. These are just suggestions and we do wish to invite our readers to contribute their ideas or any alternative viewpoints. We don’t have all the answers.

  1. Putting things into perspective. We are practicing the Daishonin’s Buddhism because of our sincere senior leaders who took good care and guided us. And now, with a deep sense of gratitude we are repeating the same act to care for our juniors in faith, no matter what. This is the most important part of our practice and this is also a miniature cosmos of our Gakkai. Given a large organization of over eight million members in Japan, controversies are bound to appear. But we must not give up entirely or lose our heart because of such difficulties.
  2. When the going gets rough, the rough go towards Sensei. Yes, this is the crux. Our ties with our mentor must be strengthened, especially during times of difficulty. Chant strong daimoku and earnestly read and study the writings of Sensei. Never allow anything to affect our faith in gohonzon and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. There is nothing wrong in the teachings, Gosho and the Gohonzon. It is only administrative matters that are messed up. It is not worth it to toss our faith away because of it.
  3. Don’t look or hope for Sensei as the knight in the shinning armour to appear and resolve the matter by sacking this or that person. After so many decades of teaching and fostering, it is time for disciples to stand up and make our voices heard, ensuring that evil will not even get a toehold in our organization. If we cannot do that, what hope do we have when Sensei is not around? Base on the guidance and teachings in Sensei’s gosho lectures, we must be confident and possess strong conviction that we have the wisdom, courage and perseverance to transform our organization into one that truly uphold the spirits of the three founding presidents. If Sensei intervene, it means we failed as disciples. Sensei always stress on the importance of making the people wise. This is what we must do. Foster more wise people.
  4. Read them. The controversial information. Why? Because if you don’t, you would not be able to answers questions from the members. Chances are they would have read it. Read them and judge for yourselves. Are the questions valid? Are the allegations supported by proofs? Who and where can I get more information?
  5. When our members ask, don’t immediately accuse the member as anti-Gakkai or agent from the other side that intends to create trouble. Rather, listen and ask more information. Share what we have learnt also. If there is a valid issue, then, we bring it up to our leaders and seek clarification.

In an essay, Another Way of Seeing Things, by Daisaku Ikeda, he wrote…

It is vital that we each ask ourselves some important questions. For example: Do I accept without question the images provided to me? Do I believe unconfirmed reports without first examining them? Have I unwittingly allowed myself to be prejudiced? Do I really have a grasp of the facts of the matter? Have I confirmed things for myself? Have I gone to the scene? Have I met the people involved? Have I listened to what they have to say? Am I being swayed by malicious rumours?  

I believe that this kind of ‘inner dialogue’ is crucial. This is because people who are aware that they may harbor unconscious prejudices can converse with people of other cultures more easily than those who are convinced that they have no prejudices.

When we stood up looking at ourselves, when we no longer question ourselves, we become self-righteous and dogmatic. Our discourse becomes impossible.

It is also a reminder to ourselves, the authors of this website, that we are prejudice. We are aware of it. We are willing to listen to alternative views with this awareness.

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19 thoughts on “An ugly storm brewing in Soka Gakkai – Japan

  1. Why should we care about corruption and misconduct?
    Do you think Mr ikeda is clean and pure?
    In many aspects, Sensei is also involved in corruption or misconduct (pending on which angel you see it)
    Why shall we care?

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    1. Mr. Lee, I am not sure about your true motive but please show some respect to Mr. Ikeda. I can’t stop you from speaking what is in your mind but let me remind you to be mindful of what you wrote here. First of all where is the evidence that Mr. Ikeda is corrupted? It’s not enough to simply state something like “depends on which angle you see”. If you don’t have anything better to write it’s wiser to refrain yourself to write something that makes you look like a fool. Can you name any author that publish books the quantity Mr. Ikeda had published throughout his life and the readership he has? Do you know how much he earned through royalties from all his books sold inside and outside of SGI families and does he need to do something that is jeapodizing what he has strove to build so far? If you want to simply accuse a great man who did so much for the world and humanity, I urge you to do your homework and find out the facts before you wrote something malicious that is damaging to your own reputation. When viewing from the strictness of the law of causality, isn’t this a form of slander? Words come from mouth and ruin oneself.

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  2. Thank you for sharing quietrevo. When an organization grow bigger and wealthier all these will bound to happen. The higher position you go the stronger will be the temptation of greed and power. If we don’t have such high life state we will succumb to these poison without realizing it.

    Mr Lee, it seems that you don’t care. But then you still continue reading these posts and commented.

    I do care, and I know many do too. I grow up in Gakkai and Gakkai is my home. If there are any misconduct or wrongdoing I will keep questioning. I will stand up to protect my home.

    Please go back and read Human Revolution and The New Human Revolution in order to understand Sensei heart and Sensei hope before you talk about Sensei.

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  3. Many people cannot believe that there exist such a great person as Mr Ikeda. Why? Because he stuck out like a sore thumb. He make many people jealous and angry because he upsets their world view that everyone, without exception, is selfish and has some ugly agenda behind. It is true that many famous and supposedly great people are fake. But we should not conclude that all are the same. Whatever it is, we believe people will believe what they want to believe. All we want to say that Mr Ikeda has brought this great Buddhism worldwide and millions have the opportunity to transform their karma and attained absolute happiness. If it is a fake, soka gakkai can never expand so fast and so far transcending cultural and national barriers. It does not mean that everyone inside Gakkai is automatically good and incapable of evil. As for Mr Ikeda himself, he has done his part, using every ounce of energy to teach and impart. It’s time for his disciples to stand up now and grow the seeds that was sown.

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    1. So you are double standard?
      When someone questions abt mr ikeda, you said it’s just rumor or jealousy.
      But when others saying the same to protect GD, you said these people are stupid….

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      1. Hi Mr Lee,
        You have raised a very good question about practising double standards. The allegations that were brought up about the ex Region Chief in Johor week substantiated with facts and also admitted by SGM internal audit in the January 17, 2016 at the Johor All Leaders Meeting. These are not fabrication nor our imagination. Question is why didn’t GD conduct a further forensic audit, and used the audit to claim no wrongdoing? As for Sensei, can you tell us exactly what the allegations were? As far as we know, many of the allegations were brought to court and ruled in favour of Mr Ikeda. It’s in public record. We want to thank you for reminding us not to practice double standard. If you can proof the authenticity of your claims, we would be more than willing to get to the bottom of it.

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  4. What is happening now, in Sokagakkai and in SGM, is an awakening lessons to us all.

    To some members and leaders, they are lost, because , the organization which they always thought as perfect, suddenly revealed all it’s flaws. Despite all its realities, some even prefers to ignored all the issues and continue to live in denials. Some even go to the extent to to push the responsibility to the’ act of devils’. So ridiculous. Why?

    It’s simple. We have been, for so many years, unknowingly, conditioned to believe , that the organization is perfect and the leaders are good religious leaders. The GD is perfect and he is sensei choice and therefore we must follow him and shouldn’t doubt or question him, we treated him and the organization with utmost respects. Even the organization spend nearly 28 millions to purchase antiques and artifacts, we accept it and do not questions. And we called this faith. So serious was the results of the conditioning to the extent that it is similar to ‘cult’ like.

    We relied on the organization, we took refuge in the organization. But, Nichiren Daishonin philosophy stressed that we should follow the law. The Gohonzon and NMHRGK is most important. ND philosophy is about we unleashing our own unlimited potentials. Period.

    But, does it mean that the organization is not important. The answer is NO. The organization is important, because, it’s the platform for Kosenrufu. Kosenrufu, is helping others to awaken to their unlimited potentials (Buddha nature) through The Gohonzon and NMHRGK. We dedicated almost all our life time to the activities of the organization, thinking that all these is kosenrufu. Please look at the results and our direction.

    Because, this organization is the platform for Kosenrufu, it must always remains and focus on this purpose. Therefore we must not allow anyone or any groups to mismanaged. We are still demanding for good governance and sincere transparency. By just announcing the appointment of the external auditor reflects nothing. Anyway we should have a external auditor long long ago. Why only now? With the external auditor’s appointed, please be transparent enough to inform all members, the parameters of the coming audit. What about the authentification of the antiques and artifacts. Not just stock counts.

    Furthermore, SGM may ask for gokuyo again due the coming new year gongyo. I hope we all demand that New Year Gongyo contribution to be discontinued. However, I doubt SGM will take our advise. If New Year Gongyo contribution take place, please demand that the monetary contributions Must be counted and validated immediately and not one or two days later.

    This kosenrufu platform’s is so important, and Bodhisattvas of the Earth has the responsibility to protect it. Speaking out and revealing the wrongs doings is the only way to ensure that the organization remains relevant and pave the ways for the happiness of all Malaysian. Keeping silent and not having the courage to speak the truth is the way to destroy this platform.

    In conclusion, what I have learned, is that this organization is not perfect, because it’s managed by human. Those who managed and leads this organization is not perfect., so is Sokagakkai in Japan. Trying to influence the members by using the good name of sensei, cannot work anymore. Follow the teaching of ND is the ultimate way.

    ND stated “Now, no matter what, strive I in faith and be known as a votary of the lotus Sutra, and remain my disciple for the rest of your life.if you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a bodhisattvas of the earth. And if you are a bodhisattvas of the earth, there is not the slightest doubt that you have been a disciple of shakyamuni Buddha from the remote past…..there should be no discrimination among those who propagate the five characters of Myo ho Renge Kyo in the latter of the law, be they men or women. Were they not bodhisattvas of the earth, they could not chant the daimoku”

    Thus, we as Nichiren disciples must stand to ensure that the true spirit of Nichiren Daishonin prevails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s wrong if SGM spent 28 million to purchase antiques?
      We have 355 million cash in fixed deposit!!!!!

      If 28 million for antiques is misconduct,
      Do you know how much sgi Tokyo Fuji art museum spent ???
      At least 20 x more….
      Do you ever ask Mr ikeda answers for it?

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      1. Spending 28m in art collections are not wrong in itself. But the lack of proper accounting for the artworks are. The audit done in 2016, like what Kosenman said was true, it is merely taking a photo, verifying it with the receipts and tally the quantity. No valuation was done on these items. Some agree and some disagree as to SGM spending money on this. However, having a transparent and true and fair accounting on each dollar spent on this are of utmost importance. Due to the nature of high variability of exact value, many people use art collection to launder money. Including the famous Jho Lo. So, can you say that we are asking too much of we want transparency and proper accounting on these spending? Don’t forget, each cent contributed is from the toil and sweat of our sincere members.

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      2. Lee, base on a few of your comments, it gives me the impressions that you are argumentative just for the sake of argument. And you are trying to tie in to the fact that if SGI can spend money on antiques or if Mr Ikeda have been alleged on wrong doings, so it IMPLIES that GD can do the same, that SGM can be wrong as well. If it makes you feel better that GD/SGM can spend members’ hard earned money on art, please go ahead and feel good about it. I hope you worked equally hard as our members to come out with the amount of ringgit for contribution, because if money comes easy to you, or you didn’t contribute as much, then you are just saying for for the sake of argument. I am not even sure why QuietRevo is entertaining you.

        If SGI is unnecessary spending members money, let SGI members in Japan take it up. And I am glad that this is happening in Japan now since I saw video and members demonstrating publicly in Japan. But it’s a separate issue simply because MY money didn’t go to SGI, it went to SGM.

        And so, we are talking about SGM here. We are talking about MY hard earned money being unaccounted here. I need to know where my money is going into and WHY is it being spent on antiques and art! Do you have an answer? If you do kindly share.

        Otherwise, this is not the place to make a few angry sentences just to stir fire. Is that what you are trying to do? Stir fire? That reminds me of the current SGM leadership – trying to stir fire, trying to create anger. Good job there Lee, again, you have PUBLICLY show how SGM leaders are behaving. Please continue this behaviour if you want to destroy this organization that you claimed to love – you do love SGM, don’t you?

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    1. Hi Brite,
      I believed what you get from the youtube video is also, more or less, what we know. I am not sure what other information we can furnish.
      Some background…
      1. Soka Gakkai is the organisation for lay believers in Japan. Worldwide, it is under the umbrella of SGI. SG and SGI are separate entities.
      2. Komeito is a political party that was formed by Toda Sensei, but also independent of Soka Gakkai. Yes, Soka Gakkai openly support for Komeito candidates during election.
      3. Only Japan Soka Gakkai is involved in politics and not overseas. For further information, you got to read NHR [forgot which book] about the Yubari mine incident.
      4. Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution explicitly forbids Japan from establishing the army. Japan can only have a security force, an extended police force, for law and order. For more info, read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_9_of_the_Japanese_Constitution
      5. Komeito is part of the ruling coalition led by LDP [Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong], the largest party, like UMNO in BN. The PM, Abe [not Nikken, of course], recently change the law to enable Japan to assist her allies in foreign territory. Same link just now.
      6. Some Soka Gakkai leaders were unhappy and protested to the top executives, saying that Komeito support for this Bill was against the spirit of the three presidents of pacifism. They were sacked. The Soka Gakkai staff member, three of them in the youtube, protested to their superiors on why these leaders were being sacked, and were also sacked. They were also ex-communicated.
      7. Having no more internal channel to voice their disagreement and unfair treatment, they went on public, publishing a book, holding a press conference [targeted at international audience – it’s in English] and organised a protest in the Hall of Great Vow. Making their demand public.
      Our take: Japanese culture is one where absolute obedience is expected and self-sacrifice for the greater good is literally in their genes. Having such rebellious actions of publishing a book and holding a press conference are highly uncommon. But why? We don’t have all the answers.
      These are the points we got from the link. Again, we are not experts in Law and Japan’s Constitution. If there is any error or wrong interpretation, do share with us.

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  5. Few facts here
    1. GD appointed by SGI
    2. SGI HQ should be aware about all your complains, the so called rescue johor team should lodged reports to inform SGI HQ

    But till now, GD is still GD, no action taken from SGI HQ against current SGM committee.

    What does this mean?
    This means GD and committee members are doing the right things, at least it’s acceptable by sgi HQ.

    We should always follow SGI direction when come to Internal arguments.
    If SGI supports GD, we should follow SGI direction

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    1. Thank you Mr Lee for your analysis. It is clear and the flow is good. This is exactly the kind of discussion that we are looking for.
      1. Your reasoning based on the absolute power of SGI has over SGM. Is that true? Not really. The highest decision making body in SGM is the General Council, under the Society Act of Malaysia. If the General Council members woke up one day and decided to leave SGI and be an independent organisation, it can. This isn’t fantasy. It is as simple as that. So, to say that SGI make the decision on who is GD and who is not would not be accurate. Rather, it is something like the Agong’s role in appointing the PM. It is just procedural and the sovereign is the people, not the king.
      This is just an example [Please don’t go into whether the Agong has power or merely a rubber stamp.] But SGI’s power, with all due respect, is nothing more than a rubber stamp. Of course, all Chapter and above leaders are ‘appointed by Sensei’. This phrase is used to encourage the leaders to take their appointments more seriously. In fact, it is technically untrue, since Mr Ikeda is no longer SGI President, therefore, he cannot ‘appoint’.
      2. The top leaders in SGI are also human beings, with the three poisons inside their lives. No one is an exception. So, are they capable of corruption? Are they always right? To trust SGI completely like what you said, ‘since SGI knew and retain our GD…’, is foolish. This is exactly the mentality of many believers in the City Harvest Church had. And it led to six of their top executives were jailed. Even today, we still read of believers who find that this is all the functions of ‘evil’ prosecuting their leader.
      The only way to prevent SGM from ending up like City Harvest is to enable more and more people to think independently. Also, all Sensei’s guidance taught us to have independent mind, that each of us is a Buddha, and not to rely on others.
      3. The reason why Buddhism in India disappear is because the people deify Shakyamuni. Are we also doing the same to SGI? We are not asking you to doubt everything that SGI says. But to judge and think independently and not accept everything at face value. And when SGM top executives use the excuse of ‘this is SGI decision’, you will know that it is nonsense and aim at gullible and too-trusting leaders in SGM to avoid answering your questions.

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  6. Hi Quietrevo,

    Tqvm for the sharing. I appreciate the posts from this website because only from here that I know what’s really happening to our big family (SGI / SGM). As some of you mentioned before, many of us have been in Gakkai for many years and we really love and care for our big family.

    The top or senior leaders from my Region block many news from us. They don’t say a single word and if asked, the answers would be “i’m not really sure” . Then they asked us back, ” What have you heard and from who??” With this response, I stopped asking and get info from other sources.

    Hope that this website, can update us with relevant information. And with the info, sharing and comments from readers, we can answer our members if they have any doubts and queries.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes. We have grown accustom to the way of life in the Gakkai. I believe all of us have been drummed from the first day we started embracing this faith how fantastic this faith and organization is. The organization can do no wrong.

    From a very young age, I have been fed with the concept that the organization is the ONLY organization leading to absolute happiness and my whole life is circled around the organization. Frankly, it was the happiest time of my youth, what with all the meetings, sharing, cultural activities, performances, friends, comrades and the support from the other division. I never asked questions, I never doubted anything. I am sure many of us are like that also.

    What changed was when I started asking about the Johor issues and the responses I received was very unsatisfactory and with a hint of irritation. That made me more curious and suspicious about the organization. All the leaders that I asked, gave me rude remarks, telling me they are out to topple the organization, etc. But none can give me a proper explanation on the matter.

    From there, I was labeled. Woww !! Just like that..

    So, my perspective, an organization is only as good as its leaders. How our beloved organization is going to redeem itself depends on the bunch of senior in faith leaders helming the organization now. They have the choice to ignore the situation at hand, or they can right the wrong (that is if they feel that there is a wrong).

    Nonetheless, do as they will, I will still be around observing them and writing here.

    Like

  8. better to use the money to invest in LAND/ESTATES that can appreciate with time.Why on ARTS AND Antiques?if not careful may end up buying fakes.Even renowned Museums make mistakes in buying fakes

    Like

    1. Dear Ricky,
      There will be many who agree and also many who disagree on SGM embarking on the road of art collections. Both sides of the arguments, we feel, are valid. But what is important, and all sane people will agree on this, is that if we are embarking on this road, transparency and accountability must be strictly observed to ensure that the large sums of money is being used for the right purpose, and not into any private individual. If we need to spend millions to valued the collection independently to regain that trust, then, we should spend that money. But the thing now is that all information about these art collections are under a shroud of secrecy. People only talk in hush-hush tone. This is certainly suicidal for the reputation of SGM. If the top leaders think that this is the best way to do things, then they are either way out of time or complete idiots. The entire organisation suffers because of their incompetency.

      Like

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