Jan. 4, 2002
The Soka Gakkai won another victory in its legal battle to hold a local Tokyo newsletter responsible for libel. On Dec. 26, the Tokyo High Court upheld an earlier lower court ruling that found editor Hozumi Yano and deputy editor Naoko Asaki of the Higashi Murayama Shimin Shimbun guilty of willfully defaming the Soka Gakkai.
The two had previously published articles in their newsletter accusing the Soka Gakkai of involvement in the 1995 death of Akiyo Asaki, a Higashi Murayama city councilwoman which the police, public prosecutor’s office and courts have determined to be a suicide. Two of the surviving members of the Asaki family — Akiyo’s husband Daito and daughter Naoko — and Mr. Yano were subsequently sued by the Soka Gakkai for libel. The appellate court judges ordered the Higashi Murayama Shimin Shimbun to pay 2 million yen in damages (about $200,000) and publish a retraction and apology. [Libel settlements in Japan tend to be much lower than they would be in the United States.]
This latest verdict follows earlier court decisions that have also found two tabloid weeklies — Shukan Gendai and Shukan Shincho — guilty of libel for publishing similarly worded articles, with both fined 2 million yen as well.
The following is an excerpt from a speech President Ikeda gave at a youth training meeting, held at Soka University of America in Calabasas, CA on Oct. 1, 1991.
THE LIFEBLOOD OF BUDDHISM PULSES WITHIN SOCIETY
Niko, revealing his superficial understanding of Buddhism, profaned Nikko Shonin by calling him a non-Buddhist. Nikko Shonin, on the other hand, thoroughly understood Buddhism and strongly urged his disciples to study non-Buddhist teachings as well.
This highlights two contrasting attitudes toward Buddhism: one that confines Buddhism to a limited, esoteric realm for the benefit of only a small number of specialists, and one that takes the broader view that all laws and phenomena of the universe are part of Buddhism.
Simply put, Niko’s was a dead Buddhism, while that taught by Nikko Shonin was a living Buddhism. We of the SGI are perpetuating the orthodox lineage of this dynamic, vibrant Buddhism.
How can one propagate the Daishonin’s Buddhism without knowing about various other teachings that exist in the world? Just as I explained at the beginning by quoting President Toda, when based on the Mystic Law, all laws of the world and society begin to function in their most valuable way. All endeavors in human society — politics, economics, learning and so on — become revitalized. They come to display their full potential and attain new life. The lifeblood of Buddhism pulses within society. If it is cut off from secular affairs, Buddhism’s full validity cannot be revealed.
Niko might also have been jealous of Nikko Shonin’s extensive knowledge and learning. The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard claimed that when action and passion disappear, the world is dominated by jealousy. This argument was the heart of his criticism against the modern world — against evil wisdom that strives to pull everything down to the same level [irrespective of excellence or baseness].
Six in a series.