Soka Gakkai (Japanese: 創価学会, Hepburn: Sōka Gakkai) is a Japanese new religious movement based on Nichiren Buddhism and the teachings of the organization's first three consecutive presidents Tsunesaburō Makiguchi, Jōsei Toda and Daisaku Ikeda. It is one of the larger Japanese new religions. Originally a lay group within the Nichiren Shōshū Buddhist sect, the Gakkai reveres the Lotus Sutra and places chanting ""Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō"" at the center of devotional practice. The movement is publicly involved in peace activism, education and politics. It has also been at the center of controversies.The movement was founded by educators Makiguchi and Toda in 1930, but not formally inaugurated until 1937. After a temporary disbandment during World War II when much of the leadership was imprisoned on charges of lèse-majesté, the membership base was expanded through controversial and aggressive recruitment methods to a claimed figure of 750,000 households by 1958, compared to 3,000 before the end of the war.Further expansion of the movement was led by its third president Daisaku Ikeda. According to its own account, it has 12 million members in 192 countries and territories around the world. While Ikeda has been successful in moving the group towards mainstream acceptance in some areas, it is still widely viewed with suspicion in Japan. The organization has been the subject of substantial criticism over the years, often finding itself embroiled in public controversies especially in the first three decades following World War II.According to James R. Lewis, although the Soka Gakkai has matured into a responsible member of society, it still grapples with negative public perception. Scholars who utilize the Bryan R. Wilson typology of new religious movements reject the cult appellation, preferring to describe it as ""gnostic-manipulationist,"" a category of teachings holding that the world can improve as people master the right means and techniques to overcome their problems. Ikeda's role as a spiritual leader of the Soka Gakkai is highly prominent which some critics describe as a cult of personality.