Ikeda Daisaku Compared to Cho Yonggi: Insight into Post-War Japanese and Korean History

Brian Gold

Abstract


Ikeda Daisaku, as the third leader of Japan's largest so-called 'New Religion,' has received much journalistic and scholarly attention since his taking over leadership in 1960 of Soka Gakkai. None of these treatments, however, has looked at Ikeda in a rigorously comparative fashion. This essay will make an explicit comparison of Ikeda's career with: Cho Yonggi, the South Korean Pentecostal Christian minister who founded the world's largest church, the Yoido Full Gospel Church. The comparison will be made to highlight unique features of Ikeda, Soka Gakkai, and Komeito, Soka Gakkai's affiliated political party which presently forms part of the ruling coalition of the Japanese government. It will be argued, however, that this comparison tells us more about modern (and post-war) Japan than about Ikeda, especially the continuing marginal social standing of 'New Religions' and the cost of being a charismatic leader in a society dominated by 'groupism '.

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