JAPAN: Abduction and confinement of a couple for forceful change of religion
By Willy Fautré, HRWF
Hiroshima, 17.11.2014 (HRWF) – On 7th November, a couple living in Hiroshima City, who are members of the Unification Church, submitted a criminal charge to the West Hiroshima Police Station against a pastor from Kobe City and others for being abducted, confined and subjected to attempted forcible conversion for six days, from July 26 – 31, 2014. According to the charges, on July 26th, the husband (age 43) was forced to ride in a van by his family members, who said they were going to visit a relative at a hospital. The van was driven by a man unknown to him, and he was taken to a room in an apartment located in Osaka City, Yodogawa Ward and confined there.
Next, his wife (age 40), was invited to her parents’ home in Hiroshima City with their 8-year old daughter and 3-year old son. Her family members suddenly pounced on her, bound her arms and feet and put her in a sleeping bag. They tied up the sleeping bag, confined her in a van and then locked up in a room in the apartment where her husband was also confined whilstbeing separated from their two children. The front door to the apartment unit was locked multiple times with two kinds of padlocks and some chains. The crescent locks on the windows leading to the veranda of the rooms were fixed with wires so that they could not be opened or closed. Inside the apartment, their family members kept guard over the couple. Furthermore, a woman unknown to them who was not a family member,kept the keys to the padlocks of the front door and wore them around her neck. The couple was placed under strict confinement, in which no one could freely leave the rooms without permission from this woman.
From then on, Pastor Mamoru Takazawa of the Christian Kobe Truth Church and others visited them. Every day, they criticized and slandered the Unification Church, demanding that the couple leave the Church. The couple who were forcibly abducted and confined, went through a painful experience while being separated from their two young children.
Around 1:00 am on July 31st, the wife was able to use the mobile phone of one of those confining them, to call the police. The couple were finally freed by police officers who hurried to the scene. They were able to safely see their two children who were at their relatives’, later that afternoon.
The abduction confinement and forcible conversion was led by Pastor Takazawa and others. The couple proposed that if their families would settle out of court, they would not press charges against them, but only against against Pastor Takazawa and his group. The three main requests of the couple were, that the perpetrators would admit the facts related to this case, provide facts and evidence without suppressing them, and to never repeat such acts in the future. However, as the family did not concede to the requests, the couple brought charges against to all perpetrators including the family members.
Pastor Mamoru Takazawa has been involved with several hundreds of cases of vicious forcible conversion in the past. In one case, a Unification Church male member who was confined in an upper floor of an apartment fell from the veranda in an attempt to escape, and was seriously injured. Pastor Takazawa has lost two civil cases, and two other criminal charges have been made against him. However, both criminal cases were dropped, due to suspension of the prosecution. The couple claims that he went ahead with this case, presuming that he could get away with his actions again.
A famous case is the one of Toru Goto, who was abducted, confined for more than 12 years and submitted all this time to recantation sessions by ‘deprogrammers’.
On 13th November 2014, the Tokyo High Court issued a ruling ordering five people (three close relatives of Toru Goto, 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.
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.”