Remembering the Late Reverend Dr. Yehan Numata
The Reverend Dr. Yehan Numata was born in Hiroshima, Japan, on April 12, 1897. Though he was born into a Jodō Shin temple family, Rev. Dr. Numata did not follow his father into the priesthood but instead became a businessman. His goal was to build a successful enterprise that would provide the financial support to fulfill his wish to propagate the Buddhist teachings. With the creation of Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (BDK), Rev. Dr. Numata began to realize his long-cherished dream. A philanthropist on a worldwide scale, Rev. Dr. Numata's vision for the world is continuing in many forms.
As a young man, Rev. Dr. Numata had the opportunity to come to the United States to study. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Japan and became the country's first manufacturer of precision measuring instruments. In 1934 he founded the Mitutoyo Manufacturing Company and built it into a world leader in its field. Mitutoyo has eleven production facilities in Japan and six in other countries. There are branches in more than twenty five countries, including the United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, China, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
In 1965, Rev. Dr. Numata founded the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (BDK), which has undertaken many projects, including the publication and distribution of its landmark publication, The Teaching of Buddha. In 1982, the BDK English Tripitaka Project was established in Berkeley, California, to publish English translations of the Buddhist Scriptures. In 1984, Rev. Dr. Numata inaugurated the Numata Program in Buddhist Studies Program, which is now affiliated with fifteen universities in North America and Europe.
A devout Buddhist, Rev. Dr. Numata strongly believed that the dissemination of the Buddhist teachings would help bring peace and happiness to humanity. The worldwide promotion of Buddhism was his lifelong ambition. He was twice decorated by the government of Japan for his economic and cultural contributions, and he received honorary Ph.D degrees from the University of Hawaii and Ryukoku University, Kyoto. On May 5, 1994, the Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata passed away in Yokohama at the age of ninety-seven. His deep commitment to the Buddhist teachings continues with his legacy.