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Part 12. Money-Hungry Rascals Meet

Yamazaki Gains 450 Million Yen

Yamazaki began working with Hiroshi Hihara, a construction company owner and member of the Fujinomiya City Council. In June 1975, Yamazaki purchased a 190,000 tsubo or 155.2 acre of land in Ichinotake from Taiseki-ji. The price for the property was extremely low. Actually, Yamashita Shoji, a dummy company of Yamazaki, bought the land. The property was where High Priest Nittatsu once wanted to build a temple. His plan did not materialize, however, because permission was not granted by the city for construction. The possible use for this land was up in the air. In fact, Nichiren Shoshu had obtained this unusable land due to poor judgment. The high priest was very happy when he heard that this land, a symbol of his mismanagement, so to speak, would be sold.

As it happened, the land that was adjacent to this land was owned by Hihara, who was a key player in the indictment incident that involved Nichiren Shoshu. In the past, Hihara had attempted to develop his land into an expensive second-house residential zone, but it was in vain because he could not obtain permission from the government to go ahead with his plan. Also, he was in a financial trouble. He had borrowed money from Hideki Yokoi, owner of the Hotel New Japan in Akasaka, Tokyo (which was burnt to ashes in 1982, killing 33 people). Yokoi was infamous as a usurer. Since Hihara’s land was designated as collateral, he had to sell it as soon as possible.

In any case, Hihara cooperated with Yamazaki and they planned to build a Fuji Gakunan Country Club by combining their two properties. Yamazaki and Hihara asked Hirai Kogyo, Co. Ltd. to request Fujinomiya City to hold a hearing on this project, so that the company could obtain the city’s permission to develop the construction of this country club and golf course.

President Ikeda visited Europe and the Soviet Union from May 13 through 30 in 1975. During President Ikeda’s absence in Japan, Yamazaki personally donated 10 million yen to High Priest Nittatsu. It was not possible that Yamazaki could have such a large amount of money through his job as a legal counsel for the Soka Gakkai. It is only natural to think that Yamazaki received a handsome rebate from Hihara in the course of helping him obtain the land in question at a cheap price.

However, on August 19, Keizaburo Yamamoto, governor of Shizuoka prefecture, decided that the prefecture would freeze the discussion about granting permission to build a golf course in the eastern section of Shizuoka prefecture. This stymied Yamazaki and Hihara’s idea of developing their land into a new golf course.

Following this decision by the governor, Yamazaki came up with a new idea, proclaiming “I will build a cemetery near the head temple — it will be a model, so that such cemeteries will be built throughout Japan in the future.” Yamazaki then proposed the construction of a cemetery in Fujinomiya City to the executives of the Soka Gakkai. The Soka Gakkai agreed with his proposal as long as the head temple also would agree on it. High Priest Nittatsu’s approval was conveyed to the Soka Gakkai through General Administrator Nichiji Hayase. The executives of Nichiren Shoshu did not like the idea of letting the Soka Gakkai build a cemetery, but the high priest supported it and pushed it through.

In those days, Yamazaki lived in mansion named “Sunrise Yatsuya” — it was near Akebonobashi, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. It was right after the plan of building a cemetery got under way that Yamazaki reportedly slept with a bundle of 50 million yen as his pillow in a room of this mansion. On the surface, this 50 million yen was profit that Yamazaki’s dummy company made through the sale of his land for building the cemetery in Fujinomiya City. In actuality, however, it was a rebate to Yamazaki from Hihara, whose company was chosen to handle this construction.

Yamazaki’s cemetery plan was realized as Fuji Cherry and Nature Cemetery Park. Later Yamazaki explained to me how he was involved in this project,

“I was able to capture High Priest Nittatsu’s heart because I gave him the 50 million yen that I obtained through selling the unused land of the head temple. No matter how holy the high priest’s position may be, money still talks loud to him. Do you know how I handed the money to High Priest Nittatsu? This is what I said to him: ‘Unworthy as I am, I happened to receive a big amount of money. I am not qualified to use such money that originally came from believers’ pure faith. His Excellency, please use it.’ Saying this, I gave it to him. Don’t you think I am smart?”

In this way, by capturing High Priest Nittatsu’s heart and teaming up with Hihara, Yamazaki improperly obtained a total of 450 million yen in the form of rebates from Hihara and profits from his dummy company. At that time, Yamazaki was 39. In those days, a college graduate’s initial salary was about 90,000 yen.

Yamazaki and Hihara Freely Control the Fujinomiya Cemetery Construction Project

In July 1976, Yamazaki abruptly spoke to General Director Hiroshi Hojo about the construction of Fuji Cherry and Nature Cemetery Park: “Hihara says he will import tombstones from Korea.” (from a recorded document)

General Director Hojo replied, “Please don’t do things on your own. I understand we are supposed to use Ibaraki prefecture’s stone as the tombstones for this cemetery. We have not purchased the property yet. And we have not made any contract yet, either. If you just do things in your own way, we won’t involve ourselves in this project.” (from the same source)

To Mr. Hojo’s strict words, Yamazaki said, “If we quit now, it will cost us 4 billion yen,” indicating that the project had already gotten well underway, to the point where the Gakkai could not change its mind.

In fact, Yamazaki and Hihara had advanced the construction plan by leaps and bounds, without consulting the Soka Gakkai. Hihara had already placed an order for 40,000 tombstones to a Korean company called Toko Kohatsu. Yamazaki and Hihara thus went ahead with this project without involving the Soka Gakkai in the decision-making process.

As far as Hihara was concerned, he just went ahead on the project without consulting anyone. He thought, “If anything should happen to this project, all I have to do is demand the Soka Gakkai reimburse me for the damages.” It was Hihara’s common practice to go ahead about the project he was involved in without consulting its owner.

In those days, Yamazaki appeared almost every night at nightclubs in Ginza or ryotei (fancy Japanese-style)restaurants in Akasaka. The total amount of money Yamazaki spent every month in those days was seven million yen. I won’t get into details of his lifestyle at that time, because I articulated it in my other book entitled “Yurusarezaru akutoku moto bengoshi Yamazaki Masatomo no shotai (Truth of Masatomo Yamazaki, Former Attorney of Evil).”

For about a year and half before he acquired that huge amount of money, Yamazaki was at times confident and at other times unconfident in what he was trying to achieve. He had obtained a handsome rebate from Hihara for the construction of the cemetery in Fujinomiya. His thought must have been: “But if the project does not go smoothly, I could lose my position. It might be revealed that I had received a rebate from the company involved.” Thus, Yamazaki was not peaceful in his mind.

In contrast, the Soka Gakkai made a decision concerning the construction of Fuji Cherry and Nature Cemetery Park on September 29 at a vice presidents’ conference, and the decision was made not out of personal desire like Yamazaki, but for the sake of the future of Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai. The purpose was for the Soka Gakkai members, who previously had to go to other sects’ temples to keep their family members’ ashes. The construction of the cemetery also contributed to Fujinomiya City, where the head temple is situated.

Along this line, the Soka Gakkai offered Fujinomiya City 3,000 tombs in this cemetery. The Soka Gakkai offered to build a pond to avoid the disaster of flood for the city. The area where the cemetery was built used to suffer from landslides each time heavy rain fell. The construction of the cemetery prevented this disaster.

Wado Hamanaka, who was very close to Yamazaki in those days, reminisced how Yamazaki played around every night in those days, “Almost every night, Yamazaki spent time in playing mahjongg or going to nightclubs in Ginza. The way he played around gradually concerned me. If President Ikeda should hear about how he lived his life in those days, his position in the Soka Gakkai would get worse. I was concerned because he spent so much money every month.” (excerpted from My Memoir by Wado Hamanaka)

“Mr. Yamazaki began to wear expensive tie pins or cufflinks with diamonds. You could see that he was nearly rich. Each time he went to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters or saw Gakkai leaders other than his staff, he exchanged his expensive jewelry for cheap ones — that made it easy for us to know ‘Now, he is going to visit the Soka Gakkai Headquarters.’ Then, around the time he opened his office in Hotel New Japan, Yamazaki’s attitude changed to the point where he didn’t care about how Gakkai leaders would view him.

“He bought a new Mercedes Benz sports car in addition to a sedan. Ginza’s nightclub hostesses and top fashion models began to visit his office in Hotel New Japan frequently.” (from the same source).

High Priest Nittatsu Is a Country Priest

Mr. Hamanaka, the author of a memoir that reveals Yamazaki’s lifestyle in those days, summed up his experience with Yamazaki as follows:

“Mr. Yamazaki remained chief legal counsel of the Soka Gakkai, but his heart was shut off from President Ikeda. To be precise, Yamazaki began to think of revenging himself on President Ikeda, because he felt that Gakkai leaders were beginning to disregard him. It seems that Mr. Yamazaki had already developed a scheme to make a huge amount of money by acting as an intermediary between Nichiren Shoshu and the Soka Gakkai. He was in the process of manipulating each organization to distrust the other, so that he could prove valuable in the resulting schism. He also seemed to have the idea of ousting President Ikeda in the future. To this end, Mr. Yamazaki began to use me as a means to manipulate Nichiren Shoshu. In those days, however, I was wholly ignorant of the true nature of Mr. Yamazaki. I need to confess that it took me ten or more years to truly understand how wicked his strategy was.” (from the same source)

Yamazaki once said to Hamanaka (when he lost his passion for working for the Soka Gakkai), “I am wondering if I should quit being the Gakkai’s chief legal counsel and become a judge at a Summary Court in the countryside.” (from the same source) However, after obtaining an exorbitant amount of money in an inappropriate manner, he changed his idea, saying to Hamanaka, “Wado-san, I will finally take the offense in society from now on. At some point, I will give up being the Gakkai’s legal counsel.” (from the same source)

Thus, he opened his office in Hotel New Japan in Akasaka, Tokyo. However, his attitude toward the Soka Gakkai was inconsistent. At times, he said, “I would sever ties with the Soka Gakkai.” (from the same source) At other times, he said, “I am responsible to see how the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu will end up.”

Speaking to Hamanaka, Yamazaki fiercely disparaged President Ikeda, “That man is completely off.” (from the same source)

“He feels he has become a Buddha.” (from the same source)

“Nichiren Shoshu may be destroyed.” (from the same source)

Based upon his anger at President Ikeda, Yamazaki irresponsibly said these things in hopes that his words would go through Hamanaka to the high priest’s disciples, and eventually reach High Priest Nittatsu himself.

Through the illegal land deal that resulted in Nichiren Shoshu’s indictment, Yamazaki was able to develop his contacts with Nichiren Shoshu’s executive priests. Later, he began to have access to High Priest Nittatsu, who was considered too holy a man for general members to approach. Through his close association with Nichiren Shoshu executives, Yamazaki began to feel that “High Priest Nittatsu was just a priest in the countryside of Uenomura village. And he began to look down upon the Soka Gakkai who cherished such an indecent priesthood. Faith became a meaningless subject in Yamazaki’s life. He began to consider religion to be a horn of plenty.”

Yamazaki said, “Money talks for priests. They talk about their pride, but once you give money to them, you can get any type of priest under your control, no matter how high their position within Nichiren Shoshu may be.”

“I suspect that the priests must have appreciated cash better than the Sho-Hondo. They regard the Sho-Hondo as an obstacle that will prevent them from separating from the Soka Gakkai. It is just like a case of sankin kotai, which the Tokugawa shogunate imposed upon each local lord so that they could not grow rich financially. Priests must be feeling that it is costly to maintain the Sho-Hondo and that this building weakens Taiseki-ji’s financial basis. They have no idea whatsoever of dignifying the Dai-Gohonzon with this structure. They would be happy to move the Dai-Gohonzon back to the Hoanden, should they become short of funds to maintain the Sho-Hondo. From the inception, they had no desire in their hearts to put the Dai-Gohonzon in such a splendid edifice.”

Judging from the fact that Nichiren Shoshu has turned into the Nikken sect, Yamazaki’s way of thinking may be said to have hit the bull’s eye. We can’t help but agree with Yamazaki’s analysis of the real life-conditions of almost all the priests who were within Nichiren Shoshu in those days.

Attempting To Use Shinno Abe as a Tool to Create a Schism between Priesthood and Laity

In order to realize his ambition and satisfy his personal desires, Yamazaki finally turned to creating division and confusion between priesthood and laity.

In order for the Soka Gakkai to develop its distrust of the priesthood, Yamazaki occasionally spread misinformation about Nichiren Shoshu to Vice President Hojo. Now, he boldly approached some executive priests at Taiseki-ji. It was Study Department Chief Shinno Abe (who later became Nikken) who Yamazaki tried to use to create a schism between priesthood and laity. And Hamanaka became Yamazaki’s secret messenger.

Hamanaka wrote:

“I found Reverend Abe where I expected him to be: in the hotel lounge at Hotel Okura. He was eager to hear what I was planning to share with him. He impatiently said, ‘Wado, what do you have in mind?’ I began to convey to him as precisely as possible the notes I had taken of what Mr. Yamazaki said. In the middle of this, Reverend Abe said, as if emphasizing the points I was making, ‘What? You are saying President Ikeda said he would become Chou Chou, not Lau Bei (meaning that he would create his own kingdom), aren’t you? Did he really say so? Are you sure?’ Even though I personally never heard President Ikeda say such a thing, I nodded confidently. Crossing his arms on his chest, Reverend Abe became quiet, urging me to continue. After I finished, he asked, “Who did you hear this from?’ When I honestly said, ‘I heard it all from Lawyer Yamazaki,’ Reverend Abe, nodding as if he knew the answer, said, ‘Oh, Mr. Yamazaki. Huh. That makes sense, because he has some kind of occult power.’ So saying, Reverend Abe went into another round of contemplation.

“I was astonished at the fact that Reverend Abe used the term ‘occult power’ to describe Mr. Yamazaki. It is extremely rare for a priest to use such an expression about a person. Reverend Abe had a cultic expression on his face. He was dead serious about what I said to him.

“In my mind, I wondered if the man (who says such a thing) is in fact the Nichiren Shoshu orthodox Study Department Chief. But at the same time, strangely enough, I somehow agreed with the way he characterized Mr. Yamazaki. Then, Reverend Abe said nothing for a while, until he broke his silence, ‘I see. But, you know, let’s do things slowly.’

“Whenever Reverend Abe said, ’Let’s do things slowly,’ he sounded uncommitted. As soon as he used this expression, I sensed that he had no intention to stand up to President Ikeda.

“Now that I disclosed that Mr. Yamazaki was the source of the information, I was afraid that I would put him in a difficult position in the Soka Gakkai. I was determined to get Reverend Abe to agree on the points I made, but his response was very conservative, ’I understand what you say. Give me some time to ponder this matter. If you should know anything new, please make sure to let me know. I will refrain from sharing what you said today with anybody. You too, do the same.’

“In conclusion, I said, ’If you should decide to stand up, we would have an excellent strategist. Mr. Yamazaki would help us strategize.’

’I did not know Mr. Yamazaki was that much determined. Now I see,’ said Reverend Abe. Then, for the first time, he clearly shared his opinion with me: ’I feel that the Soka Gakkai can do anything it wants, as long as they don’t deny the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary and they don’t start conducting the gojukai ceremony on their own. You may not know, but the head temple was so destitute in the past that it was extremely hard for priests to make a living. But today, thanks to the Soka Gakkai, we can enjoy a very comfortable life. Some criticize the Soka Gakkai about its alleged theory of ’the president’s being the True Buddha,’ but there is no proof to justify this allegation against the Soka Gakkai. And we may have to accept the way the Gakkai do things to a certain degree, even if we may have some evidence that justify the claim that the Soka Gakkai advocates its president as being the True Buddha.’

“This was the honest feeling of Reverend Abe toward the Soka Gakkai. He left the hotel saying, ‘I’m busy today — I have a few things to do. I have to get going. Let’s talk about this matter one more time over a meal.’ I sensed that Reverend Abe had no intention whatsoever to fight against the Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda. I immediately headed to Hotel New Japan where Mr. Yamazaki was waiting for me. I reported to him exactly what I heard and what I sensed about Reverend Abe’s remarks. Mr. Yamazaki replied with some sense of resentment and fear, ‘Oh no, Wado-san. Did you mention my name to Mr. Abe? That’s not wise. I told you that you should not mention my name until he says he would fight against Ikeda.’ Then I added, ‘But I don’t think Mr. Abe will report to the Gakkai about what we discussed, because he himself said that what we discussed today should be confidential.’ Hearing this, Mr. Yamazaki seemed a little bit relieved. Then, expressing his frustration at Mr. Abe, Mr. Yamazaki added, ’That man is a chicken. His caliber is not big enough to serve as study department chief.’ In fact, what I discussed with Reverend Abe was presented as his written report to the court in Mr. Yamazaki’s blackmail incident” (excerpted from My Memoir by Wado Hamanaka).

In those days, I was busy with working for the Japan Broadcast Association every day, as the editor of Shukyo Hyoron (Religious Comments). I saw Yamazaki once or twice in a month, so I was not aware of the plot he was harboring in his heart. As editor of this religious magazine, I had contacts with priests of various religious sects. And I knew that many priests, placing themselves above lay believers, delivered sermons only to be indulged with donations from their parishioners. These priests used their religious authority over the high-classed lay people. Yet, I could not give up the thought that Nichiren Shoshu’s high priest was different and that he was a very special, holy man.

Yamazaki was different in his observation of the high-ranked priests of Nichiren Shoshu: “No matter how great a robe you may put on a high priest, you can’t hide his essential mediocrity.” Or “A holy person had better be behind the scenes. Believers will get disappointed in him if they should know his true nature.”

I was accustomed to covering corruptions or ugly incidents in the religious circle of Japan. But I felt disgusted with the way Yamazaki regarded the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. But because Yamazaki thought of High Priest Nittatsu as a mere “priest in the countryside” without developing a sense of respect to him, he was able to put him under his control in an easy manner. This awareness I have come to have these days.