SOKA GAKKAI AS A CHALLENGE TO JAPANESE SOCIETY AND POLITICS
A new Buddhist group Soka Gakkai started its movement in 1930. After World War II it grew rapidly to claim more than eight million families as its members in Japan in 2005. Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which Soka Gakkai organized as its international network in 1975, now extends to over 190 countries and areas worldwide, claiming twelve million members globally, according to their own calculations. Soka Gakkai started a domestic political movement in the early 1960s, establishing Komeito in 1964 that would mostly keep the third position between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Social Democratic Party throughout the Cold War era. When the political scene in Japan saw a restructuring process in the 1990s, Komeito joined in the coalition government with the LDP in 1999. The general election in 2009, however, turned out to be a failure both to the LDP and Komeito, while the Democratic Party of Japan won the election to lead the new government, almost for the first time since the establishment of LDP in 1955. This paper tries to situate Soka Gakkai and Komeito in the context of Japanese politics and society and attempts an evaluation of the current situation after the 2009 election.
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