Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi was a reformist educator, author and philosopher who founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (forerunner of the Soka Gakkai) in 1930. Over the course of his long career as teacher and principal, he developed an educational pedagogy that is today the basis of the Soka education system. After the outbreak of World War II, he was arrested and imprisoned for opposing the policies of the Japanese militarist regime. He died in prison from abuse and malnutrition at the age of 73.

Makiguchi's central concern had been to reform an education system that he felt discouraged the critical thinking and creativity of students. He believed that education should serve the happiness of students, rather than the needs of the state. His educational philosophy, described in his The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy, clashed directly with the official educational policy and the ideology of the militarist government, which sought to mould obedient servants of the state.

Makiguchi took faith in Nichiren Buddhism in 1928, finding within it a holistic, humanistic philosophy that accorded with his own thinking. Over time, he and his protégé, Josei Toda, became increasingly convinced that Nichiren Buddhism, with its emphasis on the transformation of society through an inner reformation of the individual, was the means to achieving the fundamental social reform that they had been pursuing through their educational efforts.