Influential Japanese religious leader dies at 95 – World ReadingS


TOKYO: Daisaku Ikeda, the former leader of Soka Gakkai, one of Japan’s largest and most politically influential religious groups, has died at the age of 95, the Buddhist organization said on Saturday.

Ikeda expanded Soka Gakkai’s following in Japan and internationally, and in 1964 founded Komeito, a junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Soka Gakkai says it currently has about 12 million members. “He passed away due to old age at his home in Shinjuku on the evening of November 15,” Soka Gakkai said in a statement. Founded in 1930, the group has worldwide members, including Hollywood star Orlando Bloom and other celebrities. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on his former Twitter account, X, that Ikeda “played an important role in promoting peace, culture and education in Japan and abroad.” “He left an important mark in history,” Kishida said, adding that he was “deeply saddened” by his death.

Ikeda devoted his energy to international exchanges, meeting with political leaders such as China’s former premier Zhou Enlai and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

According to the group’s website, he set the goal of achieving peace and happiness for all based on his experience losing his brother during World War II.

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