Nov 18, 2023

Japan's Daisaku Ikeda, Longtime Soka Gakkai Lay Buddhist Leader, Dies at 95

Anton Bridge
U.S. News & World Report
November 18, 2023

TOKYO (Reuters) -Daisaku Ikeda, who helped spread Buddhist thought around the world through Soka Gakkai - Japan's largest religious organisation and an ally of the government - has died, the organisation said on Saturday.

Ikeda died on Wednesday evening from natural causes at age 95, Soka Gakkai said in a statement on its website.

He was the longtime spiritual leader of the lay Buddhist organisation known abroad for its association with celebrities and at home for its influence on politics.

He founded the precursor to Japan's Komeito political party, the current government's junior coalition partner, in 1964.

Ikeda was a prolific writer, publishing a number of books on Buddhism, dialogues with public intellectuals like British historian Arnold Toynbee, and a 12-volume novel “human revolution”.

For years, photos of Ikeda were a common sight on advertisements in Tokyo trains for the organisation’s numerous books, magazines and other publications. But those dropped off in recent years leading to some speculation about his health and role in Soka Gakkai International.

Ikeda was not without critics, including British journalist Polly Toynbee, who said he took advantage of her grandfather’s senility after she was invited to meet Ikeda in the mid-1980s.

Soka Gakkai said a funeral had been held with members of Ikeda's family and that details of commemorative services would be announced soon. He is survived by his wife Kaneko and sons Hiromasa and Takahiro, the group said.

(Reporting by Anton Bridge; Editing by William Mallard)

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