JAPAN: A landmark court decision!

Kidnappers and deprogrammers to pay dozens of million yen for attempted forceful change of religion

By Willy Fautré, HRWF

Toru Goto’s case in a nutshell:

  • Toru Goto confined by relatives for 12 years and 5 months for ‘deprogramming’ by an Evangelical pastor and another person
  • Brother, sister-in-law and sister to pay 22 million yen (1 EUR=145 yen)
  • Deprogrammer Takashi Miyamura to pay 11 million yen
  • Evangelical pastor Yasutomo Matsunaga to pay 4.4 million yen
  • Japanese media totally silent as usual about such cases
  • HRWF Int’l report ” Japan: Abduction & deprivation of freedom for the purpose of religious de-conversion” available on Amazon (here)

Tokyo, 17.11.2014 (HRWF) – On 13 November, the Tokyo High Court issued a ruling ordering five people (three close relatives of the victim, an Evangelical pastor and another person) to pay damages to a victim of abduction and attempts of forceful religious de-conversion in confinement conditions from September 1995 to February 2008.

In the civil suit filed by Toru Goto (51) against three members of his family and professional ‘deprogrammers’ involved in the case, Judge NoriakiSudo of Tokyo High Court acknowledged the reality of the facts. Until now, courts massively dismissed the illegal nature of abduction and attempted forceful religious de-conversion in confinement conditions and ruled that such cases were “mere talks between parents and children.”

The first three trial defendants: his brother, sister-in-law and younger sister, were ordered to pay a total amount of 22 million yen.

The first trial defendant, a professional deprogrammer, Mr. Takashi Miyamura, was ordered to pay 11 million yen.

Pastor Yasutomo Matsunaga of the Niitsu Evangelical Christian Church (Niigata City) was ordered to pay 4.4 million yen. It was indeed determined that he not only gave ‘tacit consent’ and ‘encouragement’ to Mr. Goto’s family’s unlawful actions, but he ‘aided and abetted in restricting his freedom and persuading him to change his religion.”

The charges made against the Japan Alliance Christ Church to which Pastor Matsunaga belongs were dismissed.

In the first trial ruling of January last, the Tokyo District Court had ordered the three defendant members of the family to pay 4.83 million yen in damages, and Mr. Miyamura was to jointly pay 960,000 yen. The charges against Mr. Matsunaga and the Japan Alliance Christ Church to which he belongs had then been dismissed. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants had appealed this ruling.