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Daisaku Ikeda is the current president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). He was born in Tokyo on January 2, 1928, the fifth son in a working-class family that harvested seaweed. As a youth he suffered from poor health, including a life-threatening battle with tuberculosis.
He was in his teens when Japan plunged into the Second World War. The destruction of the war and the loss of his elder brother in combat left him with an indelible hatred of war and the resolve to devote his life to the cause of global peace.
In 1947, at the age of 19, Ikeda attended a lecture given by Josei Toda. Deeply impressed by Toda's character, his clear philosophy and his record of anti-militarist resistance, Ikeda decided to join the lay Buddhist association, the Soka Gakkai (Society for the Creation of Value), of which Toda was the leader. Toda, whom Ikeda was determined to learn from, came to have a decisive influence on his life.
From his youth, Ikeda had a deep interest in literature and began composing poetry in his teens. When he became unable to continue his college education, Toda, who was not only a Buddhist philosopher but also an educator and publisher, offered to tutor him.
On May 3, 1960, after the death of his mentor, Josei Toda, he became the third president of the Soka Gakkai. He held this position until 1979. In 1975 he became the first president of the SGI, an umbrella body for the independent constituent Soka Gakkai organizations in each country.
Daisaku Ikeda's leadership of the SGI has been instrumental in making the philosophy and values of Buddhism accessible to people throughout the world. Today SGI is one of the most dynamic and diverse Buddhist organizations in the world. As president of the organization Ikeda has travelled widely and held dialogues with leading thinkers of the world, based on his belief that dialogue is the most basic starting point for peace. He has also written extensively, with over 50 publications to his name.
Under Ikeda's leadership, the SGI has increasingly worked to bring Buddhist wisdom to bear on the broader social problems facing humanity. In line with this vision, Ikeda has also founded a number of independent, secular organizations to further the pursuit of peace, culture and education. These include the Soka school system, the Min-On Concert Association, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, the Boston Research Centre for the 21st Century, the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum.
Ikeda's leadership has made him the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and awards including the United Nations Peace Award, the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award.
"A great revolution of character in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society, and further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind."
Daisaku Ikeda, 'The Human Revolution'