Buddhist group Soka Gakkai's Honorary President Ikeda Daisaku dies

The honorary president of the Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, Ikeda Daisaku, has died. He was 95 years old.

The organization announced on Saturday that Ikeda died of old age on Wednesday at his residence in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward.

Ikeda was born in Tokyo and joined Soka Gakkai when he was 19 years old.

While studying the group's religious teachings, he worked to expand the organization and was appointed its third president in 1960 at the age of 32.

In 1964, Ikeda founded the political party Komeito, and began to make his presence felt in Japan's political scene.

The party is currently the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Ikeda was actively involved in peace movements and international exchanges.

He visited 54 countries and regions around the world to hold dialogues with leaders and cultural figures. He was awarded the United Nations Peace Medal.

Ikeda promoted exchanges between Japan and China. He visited Beijing in 1974 after the two countries normalized diplomatic relations. He met with China's then Premier Zhou Enlai and then Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping.

Ikeda had long maintained connections with the Chinese leadership. In 2007, he met with then Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Japan.

In 1979, Ikeda stepped down as president of Soka Gakkai, but continued to exert influence as the organization's honorary president.

In recent years, he rarely made public appearances due to his age and for other reasons.