Japan of the 1930s was marked by a burgeoning militarism leading to the Pacific War. The aggressive imperatives of nationalistic expansion were able to find congruence in 13th-century Nichiren thought. This fostered a movement that I will refer to in this paper as Nichirenism, a movement that was ideologically linked to this rise of militarism. Antithetically, a closer reading of the Nichiren corpus might actually steer clear of nationalist prerogatives and seek a broader landscape. As I interrogate these polarities, I sketch out perspectives of two of the most prominent Nichiren thinkers of the period, Chigaku Tanaka and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. Further, I will critically question how each of them, consulting the same doctrinal resources, arrived at such different conclusions. For Tanaka, Nichirenism justified militarism. For Makiguchi, Nichiren thought provided a framework for a worldview in opposition to militarism and totalitarianism.
1. Introduction 46 2. The Showa State and Religion 47 3. The Religious Response 48 4. The Position of Nichirenism 49 5. The Position of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi 52 6. Fragmentation among the Followers of Nichiren 55 7. Between Nichiren and Nichirenism 56 8. Modern Japan Rediscovers Nichiren 58 9. Legacy of Nichirenism 59