Thursday, February 15, 2007

Okada, Sukyo Mahikari, and the Japanese military - Part 1

Since writing my November post, "What do we know about this man?", I have been trying to find out more about Okada's military career. Since Sukyo Mahikari provides so few details, I've also been reading about Japan's war history and life in Japan during the Showa era.

Normally I avoid reading anything about war. I hate it. I can never decide which is more horrendous....the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the inhumane way the Japanese military treated civilians and POWs in many parts of Asia.

I recall when I first joined Mahikari, I was not happy to hear that Okada had a military past. In retrospect I suppose it was naive of me, but Sukyo Mahikari manages to give the impression that he was never involved in any actual fighting, and I found that reassuring.

According to various Mahikari publications, Okada entered the military academy to honour his father's dying wish, rather than because he particularly wanted to. When he graduated, in 1922, he was assigned to the First Infantry Regiment of the Imperial Guards, which had the role of protecting the Imperial Palace, and was made its standard bearer (Daiseishu, p. 19). Not much fighting there, I suppose. Later he became the commanding officer of the Sixth Company of the First Infantry Regiment then, in 1931, he became an infantry school instructor (Daiseishu, p. 21). We are not told what he did immediately prior to 1931, but Japan was already involved in "incidents" in China at that time, and invaded Manchuria in 1931.

Daiseishu tells us that he became a section commander of the First Railway Transport Department at Imperial Headquarters in 1937 "and took an active part in the tactical transport group strategy at Shanghai, Hangchow Bay, and at the fall of Nanking". Okada says, "Although I was in charge of railway operations at the rear, I fell ill with a high fever and had to take to my bed with a telelphone" while the Japanese troops were invading Hangchow. He then spent an unspecified amount of time in a French hospital in Shanghai. While in his hospital bed, Okada tells us, "I wondered about my comrades....over there, in the extreme of action in the bloody world of war at Nanking". In other words, Sukyo Mahikari is claiming, in a round-about fashion, that Okada was not personally involved in the Rape of Nanking.

However, further on in this same quote, while still in hospital, Okada says "I prayed that I might stand on the battlefield at least one more time". Battelfield? What battlefield? There has been no mention of Okada on any battlefields!

Back in Japan in 1938, after recovering, we are told Okada fell during a steeplechase held in the presence of the Emperor and fractured his spine, and that he spent 3 months in a military hospital. Then in 1941, "while on duty as a senior officer supervising rail transport at Army Headquarters in French Indochina", he again became ill and was hospitilized for 18 months in Tokyo (Daiseishu p. 29). When he was discharged from hospital, Okada "retired from active military service with the rank of lieutenant colonel and was transferred to the army reserves (Daiseishu, p. 31).

That's it. After 20 or so years in the military, and more than a decade of Japanese aggression in Asia, did Okada not get any blood on his hands? I really don't know. Okada talked about the negative karma his ancestors had accumulated in battles, but I don't recall him saying anything in particular about himself killing people in battle. However, in teachings given in June 2005, Koya Okada (the acting leader of Sukyo Mahikari) said, "Later, Sukuinushisama went to the war front, where he was able to lead his troops thanks to the strong willpower he had cultivated. His was an example of the yamato spirit, which was fearless in the face of death". To me, this just sounds like romanticized hype, but it does suggest that Okada was directly involved in combat. (Of course, one would expect that anyone involved in the military was directly involved in combat at some stage, but what exactly was he doing? Why are those parts omitted?)

Some of the details Sukyo Mahikari mentions about Okada during and immediately after the war don't ring true to me...I am still trying to investigate those. The above outline may be true (as far as it goes). I can't help wondering, though, if Sukyo Mahikari white-washed Okada's military career...or perhaps even made up a career that did not exist.

For one thing, the military academy that Okada attended was the Rikugun Shikan Gakko (a school that trains army officers). There was another more elite military school, the Rikugun Daigaku (or military staff college) which trained Imperial Headquarters staff. Okada did not attend that college (there is a list of its graduates here). Yet, we are told he was a section commander at Imperial Headquarters in 1937. That strikes me as odd, but it may not be. Perhaps someone who knows more than me about the Japanese military can explain that.

Another oddity is that Daiseishu quotes a story about Okada that was written for the Mahikari journal by Kiyoharu Tomomori. Tomomori says he was Okada's classmate at the military academy, and he reminisces extensively about all sorts of trivial matters. He mentions a joke Okada made to him immediately after graduation about Okada now being Tomomori's superior. This seems a bit odd, since they graduated at the same time, and especially since Tomomori later graduated from the more elite military staff college and eventually out-ranked Okada.

At first glance, the inclusion of Tomomori's story seems designed simply to praise Okada and, perhaps, to "prove" that Okada had a military career. Please don't misunderstand me...I am not claiming that Okada was never in the military. In fact, I think he probably was. It's just that, at this stage, after the exposure of so many lies told by Okada and/or Sukyo Mahikari, I find I am suspicious of everything Sukyo Mahikari says. It is true that we have not yet managed to find any mention of Okada in the lists of names on websites dealing with the Japanese military, and earlier research by other people in Japan also found no records. However, this does not necessarily indicate that Okada's military career, as claimed by Sukyo Mahikari, is false. A possible explanation is that various military records have been suppressed, for whatever reason, but a more probable explanation is that Okada's military role simply was not particularly important (despite Sukyo Mahikari's attempt to make it seem illustrious).

However, I now wonder if Sukyo Mahikari had a more sinister reason for including Tomomori's story in Daiseishu. Perhaps its real purpose was to "prove" that Tomomori was Okada's lifelong and closest friend. Now, I don't recall reading anything about Tomomori in other Mahikari publications, but perhaps I simply did not notice his name because Japanese names are not so familiar to me. However, he is mentioned several times in Daiseishu, the Japanese edition of which was published in 1983, and the English edition in 1993. (Page numbers in this post refer to the English edition.) Firstly, there is Tomomori's long story. In this, Tomomori even relates his wife's comment that, "He [Okada] is the best of all your friends and thinks of you the most". Later (page 185) Tomomori is mentioned as being the group's leader when Okada and his entourage went to Europe in 1973. Then, in the account of Okada's death (pages 223-4), we are told, "His friends of many years, Kiyoharu Tomomori and Sadataka Matsudaira, held his hands as they called his name", and there is also a poem about Okada's death composed by Tomomori.

So, why do I wonder if Sukyo Mahikari included all this information about Tomomori for a specific reason? Take a look at the material from the court records concerning the succession court cases after Okada's death. It is here. Towards the end of this page, there is information that suggests that, immediately after Okada's death, Keishu was about to hand over to Sekiguchi the omitama intended for Okada's successor, but that Tomomori intervened and told Keishu that, "From here on you must not advance things without consulting with me". It seems Tomomori was also involved in the plan whereby Keishu secretly registered herself as the Representing Officer of SMBK, and that he represented Keishu during succession discussions and accompanied her in court.

Now, of course I don't know exactly what happened, but it sounds to me like Tomomori may have been a driving force behind the succession dispute, the split of SMBK into two factions, and ultimately the establishment by Keishu (in 1978) of the new organization, Sukyo Mahikari. When I originally read the above material, over a year ago, I couldn't help thinking that Keishu may have just been a figurehead, with Tomomori and perhaps other advisors being the ones telling her what to do.

As you probably know, the court decision was that Sekiguchi, rather than Keishu, was the legitimate second leader of SMBK. Keishu appears to have relied heavily on personal loyalty (and supression of information) in order to retain many of the SMBK members on her side. Since Tomomori seems to have been a prominent advisor of the Keishu faction, using Daiseishu to promote the idea that Tomomori was Okada's closest friend would have been a very useful strategy in trying to legitimize Keishu's faction.

At this point you may be wondering why I am writing about Tomomori and the succession dispute in the middle of a post concerning Okada's military past. I'm afraid you are in for a shock.

A while back, when I was pondering the information given in Daiseishu concerning Okada's military career, including Tomomori's story about Okada, it occurred to me that I should do a Google search on Tomomori's name. The first hit I looked at was the page with the above succession court material....of course, I had seen that page before, but I had not remembered Tomomori's name. The next two Google hits were for this page and this page. You can read these for yourselves, but if you don't have a strong stomach, I suggest you just look at the second of these websites. I felt sick.

[Explanatory note for those who only look at the second site: Aburayama is near Fukuoka City, and was the location of two separate incidents involving the brutal and unauthorized execution of groups of airmen.]

In brief, Kiyoharu Tomomori was convicted as a war criminal. He was originally sentenced to death, but this was changed to life imprisonment at a retrial and he was imprisoned at Sugamo prison in Tokyo. I don't know exactly what year he was paroled, but all the war criminals held at Sugamo were paroled sometime between 1952 and 1958 (when the prison was closed). So, by 1959 when Okada established his religion, his good friend Tomomori was out of prison and available to be recruited as a member, or perhaps even to play a guiding role in establishing it. (I have no idea when Tomomori became a kumite.) In any case, he appears to have wielded significant power behind the scenes in the faction we belonged to. I feel doubly sick.

I originally stumbled across the above information a couple of months ago, but it occurred to me that there might be two people in the military with the same name...Okada's friend and the war criminal may have not been the same person. I wanted to be quite certain before I said anything. However, we have now managed to cross-reference between several English and Japanese websites, and can show fairly conclusively that the war criminal Tomomori was the Mahikari Tomomori. I will write about that in my next post. For now I have had enough.

PS: I have no wish to malign an innocent person. If, by any chance, Sukyo Mahikari staff have proof that any of the above is incorrect, please let me know and I will happily post a correction.


Anonymous Butterfly said...


What you have uncovered must surely be a nightmare for Sukyo Mahikari. After Okada was dismissed from his Kanbu position with the SKK group (verified by SKK HQ organisation in Japan ) he started up his very own group SMBK. Upon Okada’s death, Keishu, after taking Tomomori's advice wouldn’t accept Sekiguchi as the designated 2nd Oshienushi. She refused to be accepting (sunao) and obedient even after the initial Court ruling AGAINST her. So Keishu went off and set up her own organisation Sukyo Mahikari with her advisor Tomomori (a convicted war criminal) and drew out the court battles for years. If Upstream (Keishu) takes such an arrogant attitude, then according to SM Teachings from Primary Kenshu, it must eventually flow Downstream to her followers. Now the Truth has hit the floodgates and the Light is exposing the darkness in SM’s Upstream of their lies, deception and control which has muddied all the water Downstream. Is it little wonder that Staff members (Kanbu) cant make decisions on simple matters without always having to refer everything back to Japan for approval? Otherwise how else could she and her cohorts keep control over its members? The fear factor that Keishu has generated through all the rules and dogma in SM are indicative of pure brainwashing.

From what I can discern Tomomori lacks love and compassion, based on his war criminal record. So do birds of a feather flock together here (like attracts like) – Okada, Keishu, Tomomori and Koya with kanbu and kumites drawn into their tangled web of deceit. If I had known about Keishu and her advisor Tomomori and his brutal war criminal history when I first came across Sukyo Mahikari over 10 years ago I certainly would not have joined this cult. I am very grateful that I left SM and took back my power.

Now I wonder if any kumite who has read your submission would have the courage to show it to Kanbu for their explanation/opinion/rebuttal. I think you have certainly opened up a can of worms and they just keep on squirming out!


February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Dexter said...

Good work Anne. But then, personally I do not think there is a "just" war. To me, killing of the enemy in uniform either by following the Bushido code or using artillery/fire power are all the same. It leads us to the philosophical question as to whether all men in uniform are "bad". The hands of each and every person in uniform is tainted with blood, howsoever they may deny it. Respectable, family oriented, loving and caring civilized people, once in duty, have to carry out atrocious deeds. High ranking officials might have sat in closed doors and planned a military operation, and would not have anything to do with the original "action"; but are they not guilty too? Now, can we equate the military with "thugs"? After all, they patrol our borders and keep us safe in our cozy little houses. I believe that the armed force is a necessary evil. So in this light I may have to give concession to Tomomori. Had the chance, the person whom he killed would have killed him! Being a military person is a marriage with death...though the present situation in many parts of the world (with diplomatic progress) has given them concession to a large extent. This was not the situation, however, during the Second World War. So yes, Tomomori was a war criminal...But that alone cannot equate him with evil (on pure philosophical grounds). But it does provide us with the opportunity to understand the foundations of SM's belief system and its forerunners!

February 20, 2007  
Blogger Asher Kennedy said...

Holy crap! Wow...way to go Anne. It seems like now Sukyo Mahikari members need to re-examine trusting a man who was responsible for such attrocities. Can you really trust a murderer?

February 20, 2007  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Dexter,

I agree. All acts of war are horrible. The theory and ethics of war "crime" is indeed a very murky area. What makes some wartime killing "legal" and some "illegal"?

I guess many people think that acts of defense are okay (justified), but that acts of aggression are not okay. However, an awful lot of acts of war are not clearly one or the other...they are in some mucky gray area in the middle where "defense" and "offence" are a matter of interpretation.

I'm afraid the theory and logic of war criminality are beyond me. For me, the bottom line is, if Tomomori could supervise the un-necessary and cold-blooded killing of those airmen, and congratulate his men for doing so, then he was not a nice man.

I know very few details of Tomomori's case, but we do know that whatever he did was considered sufficiently "bad" for him to be given a sentence of life imprisonment.

February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,
Wow! This just seems to be getting bad. You have really opened a can of worms. I felt sick reading all of it.
Dexter, I agree that there is no just war, but gloating over the killings is so inhuman. That is what Tomomri did.

February 23, 2007  
Anonymous butterfly said...


So Keishu, purporting to be God's representative on earth, has a cold blooded murderer as her right hand advisor? Maybe God has a bigger sense of humour than I realised. Its so paradoxical, the spiritual mixed up with the criminal. But this does happen when Gurus get egotistical and power mad. Well cause and effect are certainly in action here. Well done Anne.


February 23, 2007  
Blogger Steve said...

This is an interesting find Ann. Tomomri is also mentioned in a 1982 article in the Japanese Chugai Nippo Magazine. After Yoshikazu Okada died in 1974, the Keishu Okada group secretly secured the company seal, the financial records and the list of members of SMBK. Sakae Sekiguchi pressed charges against Keishu Okada and her group for embezzling more than 763 million yen from SMBK accounts.

The article states, 301million yen was kept in cash. On four different occasions within March 1977, a further 260 million yen was transfered to an account in the Gifu Prefecture under the name of Tomomori. A further 200 million yen was transferred to another account under the name of Mrs Takahashi who happened to be Tomomori's daughter. Incidentally she was not a member of SMBK.

The 301million yen was eventually returned to SMBK and the charges of embezzlement were withdrawn. The article indicated the other groups of money had not been returned to SMBK at the time of writing.

It seems for a convicted war criminal with very little prospects in post war Japan, getting on the faith healing band wagon would be a very profitable tax free business venture. I guess with his good war time buddy, the self proclaimed ' saviour' of the world now dead, the cash cow could dry up under a change of management.

I suspect Tomomori's grab for control of this faith healing business through Keishu Okada, is less to do with lofty suspect spiritual ideals and more to do with the reality of material wealth and self interest.

February 25, 2007  
Blogger Anne said...

He WHAT !!!

Steve, this is going from bad to worse. Did that article say what Tomomori did with the money? Was he using the money himself, or was he hiding it in his accounts for Keishu's use?

That's an awful lot of money. At 1977 exchange rates, 763 million Yen is roughly $2.85 million in US currency. Where did all that money come from?

According to a story by a doshi in one of the international Sukyo Mahikari journals, in 1973 (just 4 years earlier) she was working at a bowling alley which she said SMBK needed to run to raise funds for running the organization, since Okada had already spent all his own money on establishing the organization. That struck me as being a bit odd, since the construction of the Atami Moto Mitamaza was completed that year, and that was also the time of the trip to Europe by Okada and a sizable party of cohorts. The organization cannot have been so poor if they could afford those construction and travelling expenses.

Now Steve tells us that a mere 4 years later, there was $2.85 million lying around in cash and SMBK bank accounts!!! Something doesn't add up here.

Hmmn. I wonder...I think the fund raising for building Suza must have started about that time, with members being strongly encouraged to donate as generously as they could. I've heard some members were extremely generous. Now I can't help wondering if some of that money also ended up in Tomomori's or Keishu's bank account.

February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
So very shocking. This is getting worse. I earnestly ask all the kumites to ponder over this information.
What a total mess.

February 26, 2007  
Anonymous butterfly said...

Sukyo Mahikari = Lies and Disempowerment

Authentic Living = Truth and SELF Empowerment

February 26, 2007  

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