This has always been the basic Soka Gakkai pitch:
Chant for anything. Short on money to pay the utility bills? Chant for it. Having problems with an abusive relationship? Chant about it. Want a shiny new car or beautiful spouse? Chant for one. Got cancer? Chant about it. Whatever the problem - the answer is chant to overcome it. Chanting will bring you absolute happiness.
Soka Gakkai teaches Buddhism in a way that makes it directly relevant, applicable and effective in daily life, not just in some rarefied sacred space where you commune with super beings with golden light shooting out of their pores, or where you sit around waiting for the waves of reified thought to subside so that you can pay attention to the minutest detail of each bite of food and find yourself completely "in the moment". They go straight to the only point that matters: Buddha dharma is about your life, as it is lived in this churning samsaric world, embracing it all, ignoring none of it. I don't know of any Buddhist tradition, even within the Nichiren tradition, that so directly addresses Buddha Dharma to ordinary, daily life.
The problem is that in pursuing this practice, they often turn it into a discipline in service of our desires grounded in ignorance and delusion. In slightly technical Buddhist terms, there is a wide tendency to define Buddhist awakening according to the logic of the desire realm, and then applying that logic to guide the practice. This can be disastrous.
Nichiren would consider this slander. This is tantamount to reading the Lotus Sutra through the lens of a provisional teaching - and not even a Buddhist teaching, but the teaching of non-Buddhists who have not even transcended the realm of desire.
I was picking up my son at my parents' house yesterday, and there was an issue of "Living Buddhism", SGI-USA's monthly magazine on the table. I started flipping through it because I was curious. I can't remember the exact words, but on the inside of the front cover was a short blurb about the teachings SGI promotes. It was something along the lines that their teachings lead to absolute happiness. OK. "Absolute Happiness" is such a vague concept, it could mean any number of things. Maybe even Buddhist awakening, although its a stretch. They go on to distinguish circumstantial happiness and absolute happiness, and then associate absolute happiness with something like a fountain of "joy". A picture of people smiling happily was embedded in the article. Typical new-agey, self-help stock photography, although this one didn't indulge in soft focus and was nice and crisp.
I probably sound bitter, but there is a problem with framing the goal of Buddhist practice as aimed to "Absolute Happiness" accompanied by Joy. This does not accord with the descriptions of the Buddha's awakening in the Buddhist texts, which is, for all its flowery language, quite technical, especially when you get into abhidharmic-type minutiae.
In the Lotus and Mahaparinirvana Sutras, the Buddha is characterized by the inverse of the things that are said to be defects of existence, the defects being impermanence, defilement, no-self, and suffering, while the Buddha is characterized by Eternity, Purity, True-Self, and Bliss. It is not accompanied by "Joy". Joy and Bliss in technical terms are different characteristics. Joy is a passing experience, something associated in traditional Buddhist teachings with experiences in the desire realm and form realm. Its the rush of happiness on the realization of some degree of accomplishment, or in the case of sutras, joy accompanies the celebration on hearing a new teaching. But in the formless realm and in awakening, joy has fallen away in favor of stability in ever more profound states of awakening. In the Lotus Sutra, Joy is associated with one of the the initial stages of Lotus Sutra practice - ie. Responding with Joy on hearing the Lotus Sutra, the first of the five stages experienced by people who hear the Lotus Sutra after the Buddha's passing (Chapter 17). My impression is that after you first hear the Lotus Sutra and the message sinks in, joy is replaced by the seriousness of the long, arduous task ahead.
This sounds like a minor point, but this is extremely problematic when you are framing the entire practice as aimed toward establishing a state of consciousness accompanied with Joy, especially when emphasis is placed on pursuing and fulfilling desires - the joy from such base accomplishments are by definition, suffering. Aside from Hotei, the fat laughing "Buddha" who is actually not even really a Buddha, have you ever seen a Buddha image with anything more than the hint of a smile? There is a reason for this. Its because the state of the Buddha is something that is far beyond such temporary pleasant experiences as "joy".
The result is that in my years of practicing with Soka Gakkai, I met a lot of people who, because they were led to believe that "joy" should be accompanying the zenith of their practice, actually ended up vacillating in a sort manic-depressive cycle of "joy" and disappointment, exactly what the Buddha says happens when pursuing goals in the desire realm. Tragically, when the disappointment phase kicked in, people often gave up dharma practice.
I can see in SGI's carefully crafted literature these days, they have a more sober description of the goal of practice. Maybe they are starting to get it. I don't know. I hope they do.
For all Soka Gakkai's warts and shortcomings, in practical terms, they are one of the most advanced groups of Buddhists in terms of outreach to people who have no Buddhist background. They have the deep pocket resources and infrastructure, and organizational unity to be a tremendous engine for the propagation of Buddha Dharma. Their good intentions are there. Unfortunately, they are hampered by limited understanding of Buddhism, and I frankly don't see that being remedied any time soon as they are doubling down on the emphasis on only studying Ikeda.