Yamazaki Masatomo’s Manipulations Add to High Priest Nittatsu’s Doubts About the Integrity of the Soka Gakkai
Around the time when Kendo Sugano visited the Soka Gakkai Headquarters with his letter of apology, Masatomo Yamazaki began to give distorted information to High Priest Nittatsu Hosoi. Wado Hamanaka, who later became chief priest at Denpo-ji temple in Takeda City, Oita Prefecture, funneled Yamazaki’s misinformation to High Priest Nittatsu from time to time. Hamanaka had worked closely with Yamazaki in the process of publishing Haja Shimbun (Refutation Newspaper) to respond to the Myoshinko Group. Hamanaka belonged to the first class of those acolytes who entered into the priesthood under High Priest Nittatsu. He became a priest at the head temple in 1960 when he was a fifth-grade student. Sugano also belonged to the same first class, as I mentioned before.
Hamanaka was 28 years old in 1977. In those days, he was not mature enough or capable enough to understand what the purpose was for the manipulated information. He didn't realize that it was meant to distance Nichiren Shoshu from the Soka Gakkai. When Hamanaka heard of his friend Sugano’s seemingly forced apology to the Soka Gakkai, he became very emotional and developed a strong sense of hostility to the Soka Gakkai. With such a negative frame of mind toward the Gakkai, Hamanaka honestly conveyed to High Priest Nittatsu what Yamazaki had to say.
When I first met with Hamanaka, Yamazaki cautioned me, “Hamanaka is a conduit of information to the high priest. You have to be careful about what you say to Hamanaka.” I mentioned this point in a previous chapter. The time came when Yamazaki turned to using Hamanaka seriously for his plot.
The Soka Gakkai was somewhat aware of Hamanaka’s collusion with Yamazaki. How he was used by Yamazaki became clear when the former wrote, My Memoirs, in October 2000. Based upon Hamanaka's memoirs, I will make clear how Yamazaki strategically placed High Priest Nittatsu at his mercy. Incidentally, all the quotes in this chapter except those specified otherwise came from Wado Hamanaka’s My Memoirs.
The memoirs note how Yamazaki commented on the tension between the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu, in conjunction with the thesis Kendo Sugano wrote, as if wrong doctrines had been emerging from within the Soka Gakkai:
“By finding fault with Sugano, a disciple of High Priest Nittatsu, Mr. Ikeda is zeroing in on having High Priest Nittatsu take responsibility for this matter. Mr. Ikeda is aiming at installing Mr. Abe as the new high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. Wado-san, please let the high priest know this as soon as possible. Please tell him to be careful not to be entrapped by this whole thing. A gallery proof of the address the president gave today will be ready tomorrow. Please deliver it to the high priest as soon as you get it. In the meantime, however, please don’t disclose my name openly. On second thought, you can quietly mention my name to the high priest alone. Please tell the high priest that the following is from me, ‘When the time comes, I’ll side with the temple. Till then, keep my name in secret, as I’ll continue to provide information for you.’”
Hamanaka conveyed this message to Teiken Hisamitsu, Chief Secretary to High Priest Nittatsu. In those days, Hisamitsu was one of those closest to the high priest. Hisamitsu was enjoying the high priest’s full trust.
In this way, Yamazaki continually manipulated High Priest Nittatsu to further his doubts about the sincerity of the Soka Gakkai. Under such circumstances, Yamazaki tried to give High Priest Nittatsu a copy of President Ikeda’s lecture titled “Referring to a View of Buddhist History.” This speech was presented at the Study Department 9th General Meeting of the Soka Gakkai at the Kansai Toda Memorial Hall on January 15, 1977, before it was printed in the Seikyo Shimbun.
The following were sentences in President Ikeda’s address:
“Buddhism was originally born among the people. Its life was dynamically pulsating there; however, it later fell into stagnation and formalism. One of the big reasons why this happened was that the entire Buddhist society lost its function to lead people, as people’s Buddhism changed into Buddhism centering on the priesthood.” (Seikyo Shimbun, January 17, 1977)
“It can be said that the Soka Gakkai is fulfilling the double function as both a lay and a clerical organization.” (ditto)
“There is a traditional idea in the world of Buddhism that the laity is also qualified to receive offerings, as long as they are used for the spread of Buddhism.” (ditto)
“The Soka Gakkai’s community centers and training centers should be defined as temples of modern times.” (ditto)
Yamazaki tried to curry favor with High Priest Nittatsu by delivering through Hamanaka the gallery proofs from Seikyo Shimbun that covered President Ikeda’s address at the Study Department’s general meeting. It was on January 16 that Yamazaki handed the gallery proofs to Hamanaka. Hamanaka went by bullet train to Mishima Station, where Teiken Hisamitsu picked up Hamanaka in his car and drove him to the head temple. High Priest Nittatsu usually met with his guests in his reception room, but he met with Hamanaka in a hallway in the private area where the high priest resided. Handing the gallery proofs to the high priest, Hamanaka added, “The Gakkai is saying that any priest whose name includes the character do is bad." Do means "the way," and High Priest Nittatsu chose this particular Chinese character as part of the name he gave to each of his disciples, since the name he got when he became a Nichiren Shoshu priest was Seido (meaning devoted to the way).
High Priest Nittatsu conveyed his thanks to Yamazaki via Hamanaka. When Hamanaka shared High Priest Nittatsu’s words of gratitude to Yamazaki, Yamazaki shared some new piece of information for the high priest. According to Yamazaki, Isao Nozaki, then Youth Division leader of the Soka Gakkai, gathered the members of the Shin’ichikai Group (selected top youth leaders of the Soka Gakkai) at the Kansai Toda Memorial Hall where President Ikeda had lectured. Nozaki said to them, “This is a battle between the Shin’ichikai Group and the Myokankai Group.” Yamazaki conveyed this anecdote to Hamanaka.
In fact, however, I was at the Shin’ichikai meeting, and there was nothing like such a inflammatory remark. This was just one instance of Yamazaki's manipulations that effectively distanced Nichiren Shoshu from the Soka Gakkai. This was how he fired up Hamanaka’s negative emotions toward the Soka Gakkai, exhorting him to coordinate the anti-Gakkai priests for a meeting. Yamazaki reserved a hotel room at Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku for a gathering of anti-Gakkai priests. Six anti-Gakkai priests and Yamazaki met at that time.
Yamazaki Aims at a Huge Profit by Distancing Priesthood from Laity
In February, Yamazaki asked Hamanaka to arrange for him to see High Priest Nittatsu face to face through the auspices of Jiun Sugano, chief priest of Daisen-ji temple in Kunitachi, Tokyo, and husband of one of the high priest’s daughters. As a result, Yamazaki met with the high priest at Taiseki-ji’s branch office in Nishikata, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. The Soka Gakkai knew nothing about this meeting.
Hamanaka was relocated to Denpo-ji temple in Takeda City, Oita Prefecture, as its chief priest on May 11. Even after his transfer, Hamanaka continued to provide the high priest with misinformation from Yamazaki.
As early as the night before the completion ceremony of Denpo-ji temple, Yamazaki called Hamanaka, asking him to convey the following to the high priest: “The Soka Gakkai is planning to publish scandalous stories about Nichiren Shoshu priests in weekly magazines.”
Yamazaki gave the same misinformation several times to Hamanaka, but no weekly magazine actually published a story about Nichiren Shoshu priests’ scandals. This is very understandable, because Japanese society is very familiar with the Soka Gakkai, but the name “Nichiren Shoshu” was unknown to them. There was no news value in reports about priests of a minor Buddhist sect.
After the completion ceremony for his temple, Hamanaka related to High Priest Nittatsu Yamazaki’s story about weekly magazines’ upcoming coverage of Nichiren Shoshu priests’ scandals. Annoyed by this report, the high priest phoned Hamanaka about this matter a few days later. He said to Hamanaka, “I see. The Gakkai is attacking us that much. That’s what I have been saying to our priests: that they should be clean about the private parts of their lives.”
The high priest was slowly being caught in Yamazaki’s web.
“Tell me anything that you may hear from Mr. Yamazaki from now on.” Hamanaka conveyed these words of the high priest to Yamazaki who responded, “Is that right? Is that what the high priest said? In any case, he should be all-out in fighting back against the Gakkai. The temple needs to take the initiative to win. Please tell the high priest that I would map out a good strategy for him.”
In those days, Yamazaki sounded like a self-appointed chief of staff for the high priest.
To further cultivate the high priest’s negativity toward the Soka Gakkai using misinformation, Yamazaki started a campaign attacking the Soka Gakkai in the weekly magazines. Through the stratagem of distancing Nichiren Shoshu from the Soka Gakkai, Yamazaki hoped to profit hugely as their mediator.
In 1978, Yamazaki said the following to me: “I’m planning to handle the construction of all temples and cemeteries that the Soka Gakkai will donate to Nichiren Shoshu. The head temple will leave this matter up to me. If the Soka Gakkai donates 100 new temples, and builds cemeteries across the country, it’ll be a 100 billion yen project, and I’ll get, say, 10% margin of it, which means I’ll get 10 billion yen. Then, one hundred million or two hundred million yen will be nothing. You can make a huge amount of money if you’re commissioned to acquire land for these facilities.”
However, what Yamazaki had in mind must have been more than that. In the past, Yamazaki had attempted to divide the Rissho Koseikai, trying to create a new sect out of its division. By controlling this new sect, he could have generated his own profit behind the scenes. Knowing his character, I can say that in those days Yamazaki was either trying to split the Soka Gakkai for his own sake or attempting to take over the entirety of the Soka Gakkai. To Yamazaki, religion was nothing but a means to make money.
Yamazaki spent seven million yen every month for his personal expenses — it was money he made under the table through his partnership with Hiroshi Hihara, the construction company owner in Fujinomiya City. However, Yamazaki always looked for more income to spend for his leisure. To achieve this, he manipulated Nichiren Shoshu and put pressure on the Soka Gakkai. He schemed to have the Soka Gakkai donate many temples to Nichiren Shoshu, telling them that this would reconcile the two organizations. He began to use every possible means to pursue his personal desires. This way of life lasted for many years for Yamazaki.
After telling the high priest that the Soka Gakkai was ready to reveal in the press slanderous stories about Nichiren Shoshu priests, Yamazaki said to Hamanaka, “It might be a good idea to use these weekly magazines to further provoke the situation. It’d be great if Kendo Sugano or Kaido Kuribayashi wrote about the Soka Gakkai’s interrogation of them in weekly magazines. Such stories would really help.” Hamanaka didn’t understand what Yamazaki really meant, but Yamazaki is the kind of person who puts thoughts into action.
Yamazaki Takes Full Advantage of the Weekly Tabloid Magazines
In July, Yamazaki called Hamanaka and let him know that the weekly magazines would begin publishing negative articles on the Soka Gakkai. Hamanaka asked what aspect of the Soka Gakkai would be covered. Yamazaki’s response was, “They’ll cover how stingy the Gakkai is toward the temple or how obnoxiously the Gakkai interrogates priests. You’ll see. It’ll be interesting.”
And things unfolded exactly as Yamazaki predicted.
In its July 28, 1977, issue, the Shukan Shincho published an article entitled “Mecca Taiseki-ji Has No Pilgrims as a Result of Its Quarrel with the Soka Gakkai.” After this article, Yamazaki phoned Hamanaka saying, “The Gakkai Headquarters is now in an uproar.” Of course, it was Yamazaki who provided the material that Shukan Shincho used as the basis for this article.
About this, Hamanaka writes in his memoirs:
“Soon after, the Shukan Bunshun started a new series of articles dealing with the Soka Gakkai, including the alleged ‘Kendo Sugano Interrogation Incident.’ Each time new articles against the Soka Gakkai appeared in weekly magazines, Yamazaki called me in a childishly triumphant manner.
“Yamazaki said: ‘Many more articles will come out.’ He also said, ‘Let Sasaki know it.’ He also told me, ‘Please let the high priest and his chief secretary know that the press is serious about attacking the Soka Gakkai.’
“Later, on August 5, 1978, Shumei Sasaki, a leader among the anti-Gakkai activist priests, stated at their meeting at Gyoho-ji temple in Azabu City, Tokyo, ‘I’ve been involved with the media ever since the Shukan Bunshun approached me in the summer of 1977.’”
Hamanaka writes in detail about how Kendo Sugano reported Shukan Shincho’s approach to Sasaki:
“Mr. Sasaki’s first contact with the media happened when a reporter of the Shukan Bunshun came to interview him, saying, ‘I heard from the Myoshinko Group that Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai have fallen out with each other. So I have come to see you for an interview.’”
The ShukanBunshun’s reporter’s reference to the Myoshinko Group tells us that Yamazaki must have used this group to enflame the Shukan Bunshun about the disagreements between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai.
In September 1977, High Priest Nittatsu visited Kyushu to attend a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the renovation of Goho-ji temple in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture, and Rissho-ji temple in Fukuoka. At that time, Hamanaka conveyed Yamazaki’s message to the high priest at Nishitetsu Grand Hotel in Fukuoka. The message conveyed the idea that the Soka Gakkai was worried about Nichiren Shoshu and the Myoshinko Group teaming up to attack them, using the tabloid press. The high priest was easily taken in by this falsehood from Yamazaki. Upon hearing Yamazaki’s message, High Priest Nittatsu remarked, “Why does the Gakkai think that Nichiren Shoshu would team up with the Myoshinko and approach the weekly magazines to attack it? Why should we have to do such a thing? Because they could easily do such a thing, they tend to think we priests will do a similar thing.”
Later on, the Shukan Sankei joined with the Shukan Shincho and the Shukan Bunshun in accelerating their attacks on the Soka Gakkai. Hamanaka writes, “Each time something bad about the Soka Gakkai appeared in a weekly magazine, Yamazaki routinely called me, asking about the priesthood’s reaction, saying ‘Don’t you think it’s interesting?’ or ‘How’s their (the priests’) reaction?’”
Priesthood Rejects Laity’s Sincerity
Yamazaki met with Chief Secretary Hisamitsu through the auspices of Hamanaka. Hamanaka writes, “At their meeting, Mr. Yamazaki did all the talking and Reverend Hisamitsu had no choice but to listen to what Mr. Yamazaki had to say. What Mr. Yamazaki told Reverend Hisamitsu was nothing new to me, but to Reverend Hisamitsu, it was very compelling and refreshing. Mr. Yamazaki relentlessly pointed out that the intent of President Ikeda’s attacks on Nichiren Shoshu is to drive out High Priest Nittatsu from the position of high priest and take control of Nichiren Shoshu.”
The Shukan Bunshun, in its October 13, 1977, issue, published an article entitled “Topple Ikeda Dictatorship! Gakkai Revolutionists Arise Nationwide.” It was a story of 300 Gakkai members collectively leaving the Soka Gakkai and gathering at Jyufuku-ji temple in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu.
After reading this article, High Priest Nittatsu phoned Shumei Sasaki, chief priest of Jyufuku-ji temple, to encourage him.
On November 17, the Soka Gakkai moved to quiet the situation, and President Ikeda showed Nichiji Hayase a copy of the proposal, “Guidelines for the Sake of Harmony between Priesthood and Laity,” which had been under discussion in the Soka Gakkai. General Administrator Hayase, together with Kaido Seki (who later became chief priest of Butsuju-ji temple in Komae City, Tokyo, and who was fresh from his trip to Brazil), and Kendo Sugano visited the Soka Gakkai Headquarters.
Right after Hayase’s visit to Gakkai Headquarters, a copy of the proposed “Guidelines for the Sake of Harmony between Priesthood and Laity” circulated in each local temple. After viewing this proposal, anti-Gakkai priests Shumei Sasaki and Hokyo Yamaguchi met with High Priest Nittatsu on November 28. According to Hamanaka’s memoirs, Yamaguchi said to the high priest, “I am troubled by a phrase in the proposal that reads, ‘Nichiren Shoshu will fully respect the Soka Gakkai’s independence as a legal entity.’ Please take out this phrase.” According to Hamanaka’s memoirs, High Priest Nittatsu responded to Yamaguchi’s request by clearly saying, “I see. Rather than taking it out, I think we should disassociate ourselves from the Gakkai.” These words of High Priest Nittatsu were recorded on a cassette tape. Its dubbed version was quickly distributed among anti-Gakkai priests.
What High Priest Nittatsu said was conveyed to Yamazaki by Hamanaka.
Acting faithfully on the surface, Yamazaki reported the above statement of High Priest Nittatsu to Soka Gakkai Vice President Hiroshi Hojo. The Soka Gakkai was in deep trouble. For the sake of harmony between priesthood and laity, President Ikeda, as the chief representative of the laity, courteously beseeched High Priest Nittatsu to accept his apology on December 4, 1977. The December 5, 1977, issue of Seikyo Shimbun reads:
“Our spirit to protect Nichiren Shoshu with all our hearts remains changeless. Although I am foolish and insensitive, I am most sincerely and seriously fighting to establish a great foundation for the lasting propagation of Buddhism in the Latter Day and for the protection of Nichiren Shoshu. I have been making efforts to build up the unshakable Great Walls of Myoho, or the Great Walls of harmony between priesthood and laity, for the sake of today and in the future, when our society may veer off their course. Please know that my strong desire exists nowhere else but in fulfilling this great cause, no matter what criticism I may receive from society.
“We are all common mortals. Therefore, we are foolish and immature in many ways. Also, since the Soka Gakkai is a big organization, you may feel we are self-centered and often insist on having our own way. But please accept our enthusiasm toward building the indestructible foundation of kosen-rufu for the future. In this respect, it is truly regrettable that more people did not attend some local temples’ oeshiki ceremony this year.
“As for the oko lecture at each local temple, it is an event that I myself originally proposed to ensure the prosperity of each temple. We are determined to make it more popular toward the 700th anniversary of the passing of Nichiren Daishonin. Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to request from the bottom of my heart that each local temple become very compassionate toward our members, children of the Buddha, so that they can gladly visit their temples.
“As to the equinox memorial service, the Soka Gakkai has been conducting it as a religious event, but from now on, we deeply feel that we need to make more efforts to make the equinox ceremony at each local temple more popular. I would like to ask you, respectable priests of Nichiren Shoshu, to accept our apology for our haughtiness and hitherto lack of effort in this matter. Lastly, I would like to express my vow that we will carry on the heart of High Priest Nittatsu while we continuously open our faith of ‘eternity, happiness, identity, and purity’ within us and face the storm of ‘three devils and four obstacles’ that surround us. Again, with this pledge in front of the Gohonzon, I will end my words.”
But Yamazaki had already taken steps to downplay President Ikeda’s sincerity toward High Priest Nittatsu in the published apology so the high priest would continue to doubt the president’s sincerity. Two days before President Ikeda gave this apology in an address at Jyozen-ji, Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture, Yamazaki had asked Hamanaka to convey this message to Chief Secretary Hisamitsu:
“Mr. Ikeda said, ’I’ll pretend this time to bow to the high priest, but I’ll fight back to damage him later. Collect as many priests’ scandals as possible and get ready to reveal them all.’ So saying, he gave specific instructions to Nozaki and others. Mr. Ikeda is the type of person who bows while he is in the middle of a storm, but will seek revenge after the storm is gone. So please be careful.”
This message from Yamazaki happened to reach High Priest Nittatsu’s ears directly from Hamanaka. It was at Sun Hotel Phoenix. After hearing this message, High Priest Nittatsu stated (according to Hamanaka’s memoirs), “Is that right? Is that what Lawyer Yamazaki mentioned? I too had a similar feeling, and therefore I took the trouble to bow to Mr. Ikeda, lest he should take action against us. Now I know. As I expected, his apology didn’t come from his heart.”
Furthermore, the high priest added, “Actually, I was together with Mr. Ikeda just a while ago. He is staying at the hotel next door. If I have to fly with him tomorrow, that won’t be nice.”
Hearing Yamazaki’s message, High Priest Nittatsu became emotional. He was the type of person who could believe in such a message, rather than believe a real person with whom he had had a serious talk. The greatest sincerity wouldn’t produce value with this type of person. High Priest Nittatsu lacked self-confidence in leading the entire sect. And because he was 70 years old, he was often very tired after events. He was the type of person who was easily swayed by simple manipulations. The year 1977 came to an end in this way.
“A Letter from a Believer” Written by Yamazaki
In 1978, an anonymous letter inspired Nichiren Shoshu’s conceited priests to further their attacks on the Soka Gakkai. On January 6, Hamanaka was in Tokyo, and Yamazaki asked him to convey this message, “I want to see that the high priest allows the Myoshinko Group to come back to Nichiren Shoshu in the future, if it becomes necessary.” This was shocking to Hamanaka, because Hamanaka was responsible for the Haja Shimbun, a publication that often attacked the Myoshinko Group. Hamanaka refused to talk to the high priest about this matter, but Yamazaki insisted that this was the only way to find out exactly what was in the high priest’s mind. So Hamanaka went ahead and related Yamazaki’s message to High Priest Nittatsu. In his memoirs, Hamanaka articulated the reaction to Yamazaki’s message:
“Hamanaka: ‘Your Holiness, Yamazaki said that your having issued the admonition was great. You did a great job as high priest. However, I am sorry that young priests don’t understand your true intention. Still, they’re willing to support you, so please cherish them.’
“The high priest: ‘Yes. Mr. Yamazaki is right. Young priests, such as Shumei (Sasaki), are working hard for me.’
“Hamanaka: ‘Your Holiness, Mr. Yamazaki added that President Ikeda won’t remain quiet. He’ll surely fight back to attack you. If the Gakkai should start a new round of attacks on you, please think about allowing the Myoshinko Group to return to Nichiren Shoshu. Asai has faith.’
“The high priest: ‘Yes. Asai does have faith.’
“Hamanaka: ‘Your Holiness, having the Myoshinko Group back in Nichiren Shoshu should be our last resort. Granted, Mr. Asai has faith, but it is also true that he was once active in disparaging you.’
“The high priest: ‘There would be nothing wrong with Asai, if only he could stop insisting on the idea of the national sanctuary. His speaking ill of me doesn’t bother me so much.’”
High Priest Nittatsu then came up with an idea about how to cope with the future Soka Gakkai attacks on Nichiren Shoshu (that Yamazaki had led him to expect). The high priest asked Sasaki, a leader of activist priests, to gather the anti-Gakkai priests at Taiseki-ji and act as if he were attacking the high priest’s weak-mindedness. How Sasaki responded to this request is written in Hamanaka’s memoirs.
Hamanaka’s memoirs continue:
“Sasaki: ‘I think I can get at least 100 priests. His Holiness asked me to get as many as possible. When I responded, that we’ll get at least 100, he was very happy.’”
The high priest’s true intention was conveyed to the anti-Gakkai priests before their gathering at the head temple. On the other hand, General Administrator Hayase and Study Department Chief Abe (Nikken) were working to stop this meeting, which was slated for Taiseki-ji.
According to Hamanaka’s memoirs:
“Abe: ‘If you should openly fight against the Gakkai, about two-thirds of Nichiren Shoshu priests will side with the Gakkai.’”
High Priest Nittatsu was concerned about the outcome of this meeting, for the same reasons as these two executive priests. He asked Sasaki whether the supposition voiced by Abe would actually happen. According to Hamanaka’s memoirs, Sasaki’s response to the high priest was:
“Sasaki: ‘They aren’t right, Your Holiness. If you make up your mind to sever ties with the Gakkai, I’ll have hundreds of priests gather under your leadership.’”
Thus, it was decided that the meeting would be held at the head temple with many anti-Gakkai activist priests.
Before this gathering of anti-Gakkai priests on January 19, Yamazaki had fabricated a letter and sent it to High Priest Nittatsu. This document was powerful enough to further enflame anti-Gakkai sentiments among those present at this meeting. Later on, this letter came to be called “A Letter from a Believer.” Yamazaki handed this secret letter to Hamanaka on January 18, one day before the meeting. On the day of the meeting, Hamanaka first arrived at Myosen-bo lodging temple at the head temple. Myosen-bo’s chief priest was Hisamitsu, Chief Secretary of High Priest Nittatsu. Hisamitsu’s wife made a clean copy of Yamazaki’s handwriting in order to make this letter presentable to the high priest.
Just before the opening of this meeting, Hamanaka handed this letter to the high priest. Some 150 priests were present at this gathering, and many of them spoke out at this meeting to denounce the Soka Gakkai, claiming that it was opposed to the teachings of Nichiren Shoshu. In the midst of this gathering, High Priest Nittatsu had Hoko Yamaguchi read the letter that had been given to him right before this gathering. The beginning of the letter reads:
“There have been various situations surrounding the relationship between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai. Nichiren Shoshu has been overly swayed by superficial matters such as protocols, gestures, and camouflages, and will become entrapped. Nichiren Shoshu will have no choice but to follow the Gakkai’s direction if it loses sight of the essence of the issue and thus errs in coping with the Gakkai.
“Ever since World War II, one consistent thing with the Soka Gakkai is that it has always attempted to keep the head temple apart from its believers and from society. The Soka Gakkai has controlled Nichiren Shoshu all this time by manipulating information. The Soka Gakkai’s whole purpose lies in succeeding in this endeavor.
“In other words, the Soka Gakkai has been strengthening its authority over society and its believers, by claiming that Nichiren Shoshu has commissioned it to fulfill the task of widespread propagation of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. But it is Nichiren Shoshu that has inherited its orthodoxy since the days of its founder. Since the Gakkai claims that it has been fully entrusted by Nichiren Shoshu, it has begun rejecting the notion that its believers and society should even have direct contact with the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood. Thus, the Gakkai has been forcing Nichiren Shoshu to be represented by the Gakkai in society and among its believers.”
What was written in this letter may have sounded very sweet to those conceited priests, but the points made in this letter were totally different from historical facts. After World War II, Nichiren Shoshu was saved from poverty thanks to the Soka Gakkai. In the meantime, the Soka Gakkai continued to expand, but Nichiren Shoshu could not keep pace with the Gakkai’s growth, barely fulfilling its ceremonial tasks. For instance, even though so many new people kept joining the Soka Gakkai, many temples could not conduct a thorough gojukai ceremony for them all. During this ceremony, the chief priest was supposed to touch the head of each new believer with the rolled-up Gohonzon, but since there were so many new people, the priest often finished the ceremony by touching a representative of many new believers. Because of this new practice in gojukai at various temples, Nichiren Shoshu Administrative Office had to issue a warning that temples should not do such a short-cut gojukai ceremony. As is proven by this example, Nichiren Shoshu was in a situation where it had to do more than its priesthood was capable of handling. The statement that the Soka Gakkai separated Nichiren Shoshu from society was completely wrong. The truth was that Nichiren Shoshu shied itself away from society.
Copies of “A Letter from a Believer” Circulated Among Local Temples
As Hoko Yamaguchi continued to read “A Letter from a Believer,” those who were present deepened their distrust in the Soka Gakkai. The letter further reads:
“On the other hand, the Soka Gakkai has used the tactics of both hard and soft power toward the head temple. And under the rationale of ’protecting Nichiren Shoshu from the outside or protecting Nichiren Shoshu from stormy society,’ the Gakkai has been exerting itself to the utmost to isolate Nichiren Shoshu and Gakkai members from society.
“The Gakkai claims in society that it is not a new religion, but it has now established absolute authority over its believers, under the golden flag of the high priest’s endorsement. Thus the Soka Gakkai has come to have sole power over the propagation of the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the education of its believers.”
Infuriated by the contents of this letter, anti-Gakkai sentiments grew in the hearts of many activist priests. In those days, the Taiseki-ji priesthood was so ignorant of secular matters that they could not even handle the regular accounting matters of the properties they acquired. With only 1000 priests, Nichiren Shoshu was in not capable of acquiring ten million believers on its own.
The Shoshinkai Group was formed in July 1979, mainly with those present at this gathering at the head temple. These priests were destined to be defrocked from Nichiren Shoshu, under the new high priest (Nikken) a few years later. Regardless of the Shoshinkai’s self-righteous claims, all the group did was to gather the Gakkai members who had decided to leave the organization. They failed not only to gain new believers, but also to hand down correct faith in the Daishonin’s teachings to posterity. Judging from these facts, it can be said that what they showed was immaturity in faith and simple jealousy of President Ikeda.
More of Yamazaki’s letter, as it was read by Yamaguchi at the meeting:
“In order to secure its freedom from Nichiren Shoshu’s intervention and to put Nichiren Shoshu under its control, the Gakkai will take every possible measure from now on, using both hard and soft power.
“When things seem favorable to the Gakkai, the Gakkai will take advantage of them to oppress Nichiren Shoshu. And when things seem gloomy to the Gakkai, the Gakkai will quickly change its stance toward Nichiren Shoshu, bowing to its authority. In this process, the Gakkai has been achieving what it wants to accomplish. According to the Gakkai’s schedule, it will secure its financial foundation in three years. It will then succeed in making its members follow its new ’independence from the priesthood’ direction. The Gakkai says it can keep its believers, because it now has its own cemeteries and other facilities. The Gakkai says that the high priest won’t remain in his position by that time, and there will be a great opportunity to control Nichiren Shoshu under a new high priest.”
Yamazaki then stresses in his letter the importance of associating Gakkai members directly with their local temples.
Yamazaki had originally intended this letter to be read only by the high priest. But since the letter had been read in front of the activist priests, the letter instantly served to further infuriate them against the Gakkai. History takes a unique turn at times. Things began to unfold in a way that was beyond the expectation of those involved in this dispute between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai.
Yamazaki was very much concerned about the fact that his secret letter to the high priest was openly exposed to some 150 activist priests.
According to Hamanaka’s memoirs:
“Yamazaki: ‘The high priest can’t do that. That letter was supposed to be for his eyes alone. I told you he should keep it to himself, didn’t I?’
“Yamazaki: ‘This is not the right time for the letter to be disclosed. The Gakkai will quickly know the truth of the matter. The high priest will be in trouble.’”
Memoirs of Hamanaka continue:
“Mr. Yamazaki was really disturbed at that time. He murmured, ‘Oh, no. He shouldn’t have had it read in front of them.’ Then, he asked me, ‘Where do you have that letter now?’ When I returned the original draft to Mr. Yamazaki, he seemed somewhat relieved. ‘Who finalized my draft? Who gave it to the high priest? What happened to the final version of this letter that Mr. Yamaguchi read aloud?’ asked Mr. Yamazaki. ‘I think that His Holiness received it back from Yamaguchi after it was read,’ I replied. ‘I was not mindful at all of where the rewritten letter went after it was read.’ Irritated, Mr. Yamazaki demanded, ’You sound so irresponsible. I’ll be in trouble. Please investigate where the final copy went. Please tell the chief secretary to ask the high priest not to expose it to the public.’”
What Yamazaki was worried about took place in no time. The copy that Hisamitsu’s wife had rewritten was already being circulated among all Nichiren Shoshu local temples.
President Ikeda Has a Face-to-Face Talk with High Priest Nittatsu
On February 9, a priesthood meeting took place at Daikejo building at the head temple — the purpose was to informally discuss the current situation. A counter-proposal by the Administrative Office (a response to the Gakkai's proposal “Guidelines for the Sake of Harmony between Priesthood and Laity”) was presented to quiet the tension between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai. Considerations to avoid creating the “danto movement” or “a movement to allow Gakkai members to directly connect themselves with their local respective temple” were given in this counter-proposal by the Administrative Office. However, in his opening remark, High Priest Nittatsu added his own thought that opposed what the Administrative Office was proposing:
“Whatever obstacle we may encounter from now on, and no matter how small we may get, we’ve got to survive as Nichiren Shoshu, the sect that protects the Daishonin’s Buddhism. This is my true will. Some say we’d better get along with the Gakkai at least on the surface, but what I’ve just said conveys my true feeling.” (“Record of the Informal Session to Discuss the Current Situation”)
This informal session became very disorderly. Anti-Gakkai activist priests at this meeting ridiculed General Administrator Hayase and Study Department Chief Abe. Pressured by the atmosphere of this meeting, General Administrator Hayase summed up the purpose of this meeting by saying:
“We’ll withdraw the proposal that we presented earlier today.” (“Record of the Informal Session To Discuss the Current Situation”)
It was decided at this meeting that a poll would be taken regarding two questions: “What is the best way to work together with the Gakkai from now on?” and “Should we part with the Gakkai?” The survey was given a deadline for the end of February.
The forces of High Priest Nittatsu, who did not come from one of the time-honored priest family lineages, were at first powerless when he became high priest. However, his power steadily increased to the point where he could vie with the forces of Hayase or Abe, who each came from a prestigious family lineage within Nichiren Shoshu. In addition, Hayase and Abe hid their true feelings toward the Gakkai and began to manifest their true anti-Soka Gakkai nature gradually. It became obvious that the results of the survey would comply with High Priest Nittatsu’s true intent that Nichiren Shoshu would cut its ties with the Gakkai.
On February 12, President Ikeda visited Taiseki-ji to break the impasse between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai. He had a direct talk with High Priest Nittatsu. The only recourse that was open to the Soka Gakkai in its quest to maintain harmony between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai was such a face-to-face talk between President Ikeda and High Priest Nittatsu.
On February 23, President Ikeda met with Yamazaki at the Soka Gakkai Tokai Training Center in Atami. The president gave strict guidance to Yamazaki in faith:
“Correct the way you live your life. Come home every night. Do a sound gongyo.” (from a recorded document)
“Don’t act like a top Gakkai leader who is closest to me. Don’t associate with a small-minded fellow like Wado (Hamanaka). Don’t be involved in temple business.”
On February 24, President Ikeda visited Taiseki-ji again to speak with High Priest Nittatsu face to face. Concerning the poll taken on February 9, its content was modified to read, “What is the best way for Nichiren Shoshu to work harmoniously with the Soka Gakkai?”(“Record of the Informal Meeting to Discuss Current Situations”)
Suddenly, anti-Gakkai priests began to disparage the high priest, claiming “His Holiness has changed the contents of the survey because he was promised billions of yen from the Gakkai.” These activist priests, who were intimidating Gakkai members with their religious authority, now began to show the high priest as little respect as his disciples. They viewed their mentor as an individual whose character was vulnerable to money.
Knowing the insecure emotions of the high priest, the Administrative Office disseminated a poll with only one question: “What is the right way to work harmoniously together with the Soka Gakkai?”
Yamazaki Sees the Essential Nature of Priesthood
On February 28, anti-Gakkai priests gathered at Taiseki-ji and had an audience with High Priest Nittatsu. Before the audience, they assembled at Rento-bo lodging temple at the head temple. It was whispered here and there during this gathering that the high priest had changed his mind, having succumbed to the Gakkai’s monetary power.
One of the activist priests went on to say, “His Holiness did not have any intention to part with the Gakkai from the beginning. All he wanted was to control President Ikeda. To this end, he used us, and now he has betrayed us. And I have already told my danto believers that His Holiness had declared his will to sever ties with the Gakkai.”
Another said, “Let’s recall His Holiness.”
Another said, “We can’t trust him any more. We’ll protect the holy seat of high-priesthood, but not the high priest himself.”
The notion of “protecting the seat of high-priesthood,” which sounded sweet to activist priests, began to emerge as early as that point. Within Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism exists the sanctity of Nichiren Daishonin, who is the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law, not the sanctity of high-priesthood, a convenient and selfish notion that symbolizes the priesthood’s innate arrogance and attachment to funeral Buddhism.
In any case, those activist priests who had come to an agreement at Rento-bo lodging temple had an audience with High Priest Nittatsu. He said:
“The other side’s general came here twice, begging us not to cut ties with the Gakkai. He apologized to me, saying that ten million members’ enlightenment is at stake.
“Because he took such a humble position, I as a priest can’t say that we’ll cut ties with the Gakkai, regardless. So I told him that we’d give one last chance to see how things would unfold.”
Despite these remarks by High Priest Nittatsu, the activists’ anti-Gakkai sentiments did not subside. The high priest also said during the audience that he would convene all Nichiren Shoshu teachers (qualified priests) on February 22 to explain his intention.
What was said at this audience was taped, and later, when Yamazaki listened to it after getting it from Hamanaka, he said (according to Hamanaka’s memoirs):
“Ha, ha, ha. The high priest had a hard time, didn’t he?
“My true plan will emerge much later.”
Yamazaki was aware that the wave of anti-Soka Gakkai sentiments that emerged from Nichiren Shoshu was rooted in the essential nature of the priesthood and that this nature would never diminish.
On February 22, the second informal session to discuss current conditions was held at Daikejo building of the head temple. On that occasion, High Priest Nittatsu said the following:
“President Ikeda came here twice to apologize to me. Forgiving him is the compassionate way of priesthood.
“However, this is his last chance. I gave him a pardon on the condition that the Gakkai should accept the results of our poll, and that we’ll indicate how the Gakkai should change in accord with the voices of all teachers. And if the Gakkai can’t accept our conditions, we’ll cut it off. We’ll have to do so. The poll originally had a question concerning the possibility of our severing ties with the Gakkai, but because the Gakkai begged us to withdraw this sentence, saying that it will confuse so many Gakkai members, we have taken it out.”
However, those present were not convinced of the high priest’s explanations.
The high priest said, “You can say to those who want to be connected directly with the temple, ‘Go ahead.’ If they want to be directly under the temple, you can accept them as danto members. That’s why I’m saying you should make a danto members’ name list.”
The high priest actually was going ahead with the idea outlined by Yamazaki in his “Letter from a Believer,” and he was encouraging the development of danto believers.
Upon hearing about the discussions at the second informal session to address current situations, Yamazaki remarked (according to Hamanaka’s memoirs):
“It seems that the high priest is embracing my opinion. He’s alert. Indeed, he’s acting like a boss.”
The High Priest at the Mercy of Yamazaki’s Manipulations
On March 14, 500 teachers gathered from across the country at the Grand Lecture Hall of the head temple. At that time, High Priest Nittatsu shared his basic policy from that point onward:
“Please discuss things with the spirit of harmonizing with the Gakkai, not excommunicating it.”
The “harmony policy” was created by the Administrative Office based upon the outcome of the poll and it was presented at this gathering.
Yamazaki was afraid that things might settle down and actually move toward harmony between Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai, so he began anew round of scheming. This time, he went to Taiseki-ji himself and had a private talk with High Priest Nittatsu. In those days, Yamazaki had gained the high priest’s trust, and had carte blanche to meet with him on a one-to-one basis. According to Hamanaka’s memoirs, Yamazaki reported to Hamanaka about this audience in the following manner:
“Yamazaki: ‘Mr. Ikeda’s apology is just a gesture. No more than that. In the depths of his heart, he must be thinking, that you’ll see, the Gakkai will come out on top. Therefore, Nichiren Shoshu should not loosen its grip on the Gakkai. Nichiren Shoshu should check every aspect of the Gakkai’s doctrines, pointing out all its errors. Then, using Gakkai’s doctrinal errors, Nichiren Shoshu can increase the danto membership. When the time comes, the press will side with Nichiren Shoshu. I told the high priest that I have the media under my control. Upon hearing that, the high priest seemed relieved. I could tell that he had made up his mind to excommunicate the Gakkai. When the time comes, he’ll part with the Gakkai.’
“Yamazaki: ‘In any case, I told him to remain strict with the Gakkai all the way. The high priest said he would do exactly what I told him. He said that he could not submit to the Gakkai the nine items that the Administrative Office had come up with to harmonize with the Gakkai. Things will get more and more interesting.’”
On March 21, the traditional gathering of the Myokankai Group was held at Taiseki-ji. One day before, Yamazaki had asked Hamanaka to hand his new proposal “Operations from Now On” to the high priest.
In his memoirs, Hamanaka wrote about how Yamazaki was at that time:
“Saying to His Holiness, ‘I have Mr. Yamazaki’s other message in addition to his letter,’ I began to speak to High Priest Nittatsu in that way, recalling what Mr. Yamazaki had asked me to share with the high priest. When I related Mr. Yamazaki’s words that ‘You are indeed a great high priest. Without fearing President Ikeda, you clearly expressed to him that you would sever ties with the Gakkai.’ Then High Priest Nittatsu said quickly, ‘That’s not true. To tell the truth, I’m scared.’ So saying loudly, he put both of his hands on the table with a wide distance between them. I noticed his hands trembling a little bit.
“At that time, I sensed for the first time how desperate High Priest Nittatsu had been in dealing with the Soka Gakkai in January and February. I kept quiet for a minute or two. Noticing that I was still there, he acted as if everything were OK. Then, he asked, ‘Did Mr. Yamazaki say anything more than that?’ I replied quoting Mr. Yamazaki who had said, ‘President Ikeda says that the high priest is just like (power-hungry) Emperor Goshirakawa (1127-1192).’ With a bitter smile on his face, High Priest Nittatsu stated, ‘They would say anything that they want to say against me. Let them say whatever they want to say. Leave them alone.’ Then the high priest also said, ‘They are the kind of people who can step on my picture with their hatred toward me.’ I recalled that when the Myokankai Group members had met with High Priest Nittatsu, one chief priest had reported to him, ‘Some Gakkai leaders tell the members to step on the high priest’s photo.’ When I was about to leave the room where I had the audience with the high priest, the high priest asked me to share his best regards with Mr. Yamazaki.”
President Ikeda had never said that High Priest Nittatsu was like Goshirakawa (a cloistered emperor). And of course, no Gakkai leaders gave their members such absurd guidance as “They should stomp on the high priest’s photo.” We now know that in those days some local priests made such false reports to the high priest, to curry favor with him. However, once High Priest Nittatsu had such negative reports in his mind, he would keep them intact in his heart.
Yamazaki Brainwashes High Priest Nittatsu During His Hospitalization (Which Was Arranged by Yamazaki)
In those days, the Shukan Shincho and the Shukan Bunshun carried a series of articles criticizing the Soka Gakkai. Regarding these articles, Yamazaki said to Hamanaka:
“Did you read the Shincho article? Who do you think made it happen?
“Who in the world could do such a thing? I’ve made it possible. Please inform the high priest secretly. From now on, the Shincho and Bunshun will continue to attack the Gakkai.”
Individuals who were close to Yamazaki in those days also recount his sly use of the weekly magazines. Using the fictitious name, Fujii, Yamazaki continuously supplied misinformation for the weekly magazines. In one instance, using a disguised voice, putting a handkerchief over the phone receiver, Yamazaki provided such fabrications to the editorial office of the Shukan Shincho.
Yamazaki used to say to High Priest Nittatsu that he had a wide network of contacts in the mass media, but the truth was that he himself was manipulating information in almost a criminal manner, using these publications for his own purposes.
Under such circumstances, High Priest Nittatsu’s heart condition suddenly got worse. Hamanaka told this to Yamazaki, who found this to be another opportunity to gain more influence for him. He promised Hamanaka that he would introduce the high priest to the chief director of a hospital (Sasagawa Clinic), owned by Ryoichi Sasagawa, then president of Japan Marine Transportation Promotion Association. The chief director of the clinic was Shigeaki Hinohara who belonged to Seiroka Hospital in Tsukiji, Tokyo (currently, he is Seiro International Hospital General Director). In those days, Yamazaki was close to the third son of Sasagawa, whose name was Yohei.
Sasagawa’s introduction was powerful enough to have Hinohara become High Priest Nittatsu’s family doctor. As a result, High Priest Nittatsu was hospitalized for an examination from May 18 to 24 at the Seiroka Hospital. During his hospitalization, the high priest visited the Life Planning Center of the Sasagawa Memorial Hall (Sasagawa Clinic). Afterwards, he began to go to the center once a month for a physical check-up with Yamazaki.
In those days, Yamazaki declared, that “The king is now in my hands,” while holding high the medical record of High Priest Nittatsu that was kept at the Sasagawa Clinic. After President Ikeda resigned from the presidency of the Soka Gakkai in 1979, Yamazaki proudly stated how he felt in those days (according to Hamanaka’s memoirs):
“I’ll tell you how I started to put High Priest Nittatsu under my control. First, I isolated him from other sources of information. During that time, he only met with his chief secretary and me. And during this time, I fed all sorts of information to him.”
The true purpose of Yamazaki’s effort to hospitalize High Priest Nittatsu was to brainwash him and to use him for the satisfaction of his own desires.