However, after having taken up the role, H.P. Nikken began to preach a doctrine far removed from what was expounded by Nichiren, the founder. Moreover, he has been behaving in a morally and ethically decadent manner, completely unworthy of the top leader of a Buddhist sect.
The corruption of the high priest has influenced many priests within the sect to engage in similar misconduct, resulting in a number of problems throughout Japan and prompting harsh criticism from lay followers.
With some special exceptions, Nichiren Shoshu priests are married. They follow no precepts or rules with regard to diet, including eating of meat and drinking of alcohol. In other words, the fact that they lead a kind of life no different from the laity, while living on lay followers’ financial contributions, has further fueled their corruption and moral lapse.
In its current state Nichiren Shoshu can no longer be considered an orthodox sect that carries on the legacy of its founder, Nichiren. It has become a religion born of the deviation of the 67th High Priest Nikken, who claims himself to be infallible and demands that followers give more weight to his words than those of the founder. As a result, it has now come to be called the “Nikken Sect” by those who strive earnestly to practice the correct teachings of Nichiren.
During the Second World War, the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood conceded to the military government’s demands and supported Japan’s war of aggression.
Seeing corruption within the sect worsening after H.P. Nikken’s appointment during the 1980s, Soka Gakkai repeatedly remonstrated with H.P. Nikken and Nichiren Shoshu priests to return to the original teachings and practice of Nichiren, including following the correct decorum for priests.
Far from rectifying his behavior, the infuriated H.P. Nikken unilaterally excommunicated Soka Gakkai in November, 1991.
Under such circumstances, many priests within Nichiren Shoshu came to consider it no longer possible to follow H.P. Nikken. Approximately fifty priests left the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood and thirty local temples chose to be legally separated from the sect.