In 1930, educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), the founding president of Soka Gakkai, published the first volume of The System of Value Creating Pedagogy. “Soka” in Japanese means value creation (“gakkai” means society or association). In essence, to create value means to enhance life. To strive for good, toward peace; to persevere in the challenges to uphold and protect human dignity; to be undaunted by hardship—the essential ideals of Soka education exist in the effort to nurture such creative humanity.
Fellow educator and Makiguchi protégé, Josei Toda (1900-58), succeeded Makiguchi's philosophy of value creation; Toda's vision and values, in turn, was succeeded by Daisaku Ikeda, Soka Gakkai's third president. In 1971, Ikeda founded Soka University, actualizing the goals and ideals of Soka education and put forth the following founding principles:Be the highest seat of learning for humanistic education.
Be the cradle of a new culture.
Be a fortress for the peace of humankind.
Be the highest seat of learning for humanistic education.
The primary mission of Soka University is value creation, to nurture the creative, life-enhancing potential of each student and to inspire students to employ that potential for the greater benefit of humanity. This is the founder's call.
University education should not be limited to the teaching and acquisition of specialized knowledge. The lack of distinction between knowledge and wisdom is a prime source of the crisis that modern society faces. What society requires are individuals who are able to freely employ knowledge in order to bring forth the wisdom to creatively confront the challenges of our ever-changing reality. Soka University strives to provide humanistic education that will foster individuals who, exercising wisdom rooted in a rich humanity, can fulfill that requirement.
Be the cradle of a new culture.
First established in medieval Europe, universities played a significant role in the development of scholastic philosophy based on Christianity that facilitated the birth of the Renaissance. Today, an integrating philosophy that embraces and brings order to the diversity of human susceptibilities, culture, reason and learning is once again imperative. Such a philosophy, firmly grounded in a recognition of our common humanity, can provide the basis for fostering global citizens, or creative individuals enriched by learning.
A global citizen can be defined essentially as an individual of wisdom, courage and compassion—courage to respect and appreciate differences such as race, culture and ethnicity, and to make such differences a source of nourishment for one’s own growth; compassion to feel empathy and a sense of identification with people in other parts of the world. Such courage and compassion are themselves a limitless font of wisdom. Soka University aims to be a cradle for the creation of a global culture based on the solidarity of global citizens—a solidarity of creative humanity.
Be a fortress for the peace of humankind.
Because of their uncompromising opposition to the militarist regime of Japan during World War II, both Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda were harshly persecuted and incarcerated. Makiguchi died in prison, refusing to abandon his beliefs to the very end; Toda, too, refused to recant. He succeeded Makiguchi’s ideals, leaving prison a fierce resolve to create a peaceful society. This resolve was encapsulated in an historic public declaration, in 1957, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In order to actualize his predecessors’ vision for peace, Daisaku Ikeda has engaged in wide-ranging dialogue with intellectuals and leading figures of the world, while actively developing grassroots exchanges for peace among people of different nationalities and cultures. Thus, the pursuit of peace lies at the very heart of Soka Education.
Makiguchi advocated a concept of humanitarian competition as the ideal form of competition between nation-states. He saw this form of competition—whereby states compete in terms of their humanitarian contributions to global society—as a progression from the military and economic competition that have dominated human history. There is clearly no greater need today than creative individuals motivated by a sense of humanitarian competition—competition to promote humanity’s state of happiness and peace. Soka University’s principle of being a citadel for the peace of humankind, a nexus of open dialogue between diverse peoples, encapsulates these ideals.
On the day of our institution’s dedication, university founder Ikeda offered the following thoughts as guidelines for students then, now and in the future:
For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom? May you always ask yourselves this question!
Only labor and devotion to one’s mission in life gives life its worth.
Soka University will continue to foster value-creating individuals through rigorous academia, forever committed to its mission of serving peace of the world and happiness of people.
The Soka School System is an integrated environment for the advancement of academic excellence, global peace and the happiness of people that ranges from kindergartens to universities, formally registered educational corporations founded by Daisaku Ikeda since 1967. Soka University is a central institution in the system, dedicated in 1971.
At the time of this writing, the combined enrollment of the Soka School System stands at 14,000—8,700 students in Soka University’s undergraduate and graduate programs, Soka Women’s College, the Soka Junior and Senior High Schools in the Tokyo and Kansai area, along with 5,200 pupils attending the Soka Elementary Schools in Tokyo and Kansai, and the Sapporo Soka Kindergarten. In addition, 17,000 men and women are now enrolled in Soka University’s Division of Correspondence Education, raising the total to 31,000.
Today, the Soka School System network has expanded worldwide to include Soka kindergartens in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia; Soka Schools in Brazil; and Soka University of America and its Graduate School—all incorporated locally as educational institutions.
The founding principles set forth by Ikeda for each of the schools in the system represent educational ideals that are both abiding and overarching. The schools uphold belief in humanism based on the respect for the sanctity of life and strive to inspire each student to develop his or her innate potential, as well as their capacity for independent thinking, tools to be employed in the service of others for social betterment. Fostering individuals of intellect and character capable of creating value in life and society—this is the primary purpose of the Soka schools.
The ideals of these institutions have their origin in The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy authored by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a school principal, educational philosopher and founder of Soka Gakkai. Second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, Makiguchi’s closest protégé, succeeded these educational principles, with Daisaku Ikeda, the third president, bringing their vision and values to fruition.
At the core of the Soka School System is its commitment to humanistic education and positions the happiness of every student to be central to that education. Soka (Japanese for value-creating) education aims to encourage individuals to lead contributive lives and to foster their innate creativity and unique potential—objectives which are clearly in dire need in this day and age. While Soka schools are centered on students, they are united with the faculty and administration in the respect and appreciation they hold for each other.
Secondly, our system places the highest importance of fostering global citizens, men and women who are committed to the cause of peace and will assume positive roles in the international community. To develop wisdom, courage and compassion—the attributes of the global citizen that are emphasized in all the system’s schools—active exchange and cooperation with institutions overseas are being pursued, deepening cross-cultural understanding and enhancing awareness for peace, human rights and environmental sustainability. In practical terms, our schools offer rigorous foreign language and IT instruction, as well as programs promoting the joys and benefits of reading—programs that are tailored to broad range of student needs and competencies.
Thirdly, the Soka School System the creative humanity of its students, the capacity for virtue and values for social betterment regardless of personal predicament. For this reason, major emphasis is placed on the liberal arts to facilitate student understanding of the interrelatedness of humanity, natural environment and human society, enabling them to identify challenges and develop innovative solutions to resolve them.
The Soka School System can thus be described as a closely-knit community of students, faculty members and staff who share in the founding principles set forth by its founder, Daisaku Ikeda. To maximize the merits of this integrated scholastic environment, its constituent schools maintain close communications with other entities and employ an admission-on-recommendation system to ensure that individuals who embrace the causes of peace, culture and education, can contribute to the betterment of society.
So that the Soka School System continues to progress and flourish through the years, a special agency was established to evaluate educational programs, school administration and other initiatives on a continuous basis. Already among the finest integrated education systems in Japan, we remain committed to the highest level of academic and humanistic excellence.