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by Betty Bruechert
JAPANESE BUDDHIST MOVEMENT SPREADING AROUND GLOBE
are out to take control of Japan’s government, and so far they have been highly successful. The Society’s Komeita (clean gov ernment) Party vote strength has in creased steadily since 1955 when it entered politics by electing 90 candi dates to town councils throughout Japan. Its carefully studied partici pation in Japan’s turbulent parlia mentary democracy has gained it a definite third place on the national and political scene, behind only the two much older established parties. The Komeito Party’s electoral suc cesses largely are attributable to the Soka Gakkai faithful who turn out in droves to vote for their fellow members running for office. But it is more than that. The society appeals to the desires and fears of the little man in Japan, the millions of Japa nese who are unable to fit into the rigid, established society. It appeals to those who feel the pressure of a highly commercialized society, who feel personal unhappiness and mis fortune. These people turn to Soka Gakkai for salvation and a better life. What are the tenets of this or ganization ? First, it believes in the “ self-con tained” way of life. In other words, it operates on the principle that life is to be created and not simply found. Its stress on achieving ex cellence in one’s profession has drawn to it large numbers of adher ents who are either fed up with the rigid hierarchical character of the Japanese business world or dis gusted with the free-wheeling prac tices associated with the top politi cal elite among whom “money is ev erything.” Thus it is hardly surprising that Soka Gakkai Komeito Party cam paigns for better and more honest government for the little guy, tax re lief for low-income families and gov ernment subsidization of small busi nesses threatened by big business which are very successful in Japan where the lower classes make the cream but get to taste so little of it. But what are Soka Gakkai’s be liefs? Its far-flung membership is held together by belief in the teach-
We 'present without comment the following article written by Arthur J. Domm en for the Los Angeles Times, with whose kind permission we reprint same. A B u d d h is t - in s p ir e d s e c t that caught the little man’s fancy in Japan is on the move around the rest of the world — including the United States. In 10 years, the organization has attracted some 5.4 million Japanese families to its cause. It also has be come the third most powerful force in Japanese politics. Having taken root in Japan this group is branching out. By its own claims, it now has 49 overseas chap ters with 25,000 members in the United States. And the first of its temples outside Japan and American - administered Okinawa is soon to be built in the Los Angeles area, which claims 3,000 members. What is this dynamic movement called Soka Gakkai? Some claim it is fascistic. Some say it is socialistic, working for the downtrodden underdog. Still others say it is a form of militant neo- Shintoism of modern-day Japan. What is clear is that it is growing rapidly—even in the western Chris tian world. Behind Soka Gakkai’s growth is a tight organization whose zealous young leaders have an extra ordinary talent for using Commu nist-style discipline to achieve non- Communist purposes. Heading Soka Gakkai is Daisaku Ikeda, a well-tailored 38-year-old dy namo who looks and acts like an American Jaycee president. Ikeda has many plans and hopes for Soka Gakkai. For he knows that in the 10 years of its existence, the society in variably has made remarkable prog ress toward most of its state’s goals. Take for instance, its self-acknowl- edged goal of taking over the leader ship of Japan through democratic elections. While Buddhist leaders in South Viet Nam go to great lengths to disclaim political ambitions, Soka Gakkia leaders say bluntly that they
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