The Words of the Burton Family

Three Unificationists Believed to Be Holding Out in Confinement

Douglas Burton
April 12, 2010

Mr. Hiroshi Jimbo, and family in New Jersey, 2008.

It is believed that three young Japanese Unification Church members who went missing several months ago are enduring psychological harassment after having been confined and held against their will because of their faith, according to Mr. Shunsuke Uotani, a Unification Church member and vice-secretary general of the Universal Peace Federation in Japan. These missing members are Momoyo Yamada (31, kidnapped Sept. 18, 2009), Fusako Tomoda (22, kidnapped Jan. 15, 2010), and Yoshiko Majima (31, kidnapped Feb. 7, 2010).

However, it is believed that professional faith breakers were successful in persuading Yuko Majima (60, confined since October, 2009), Masako Kudo (35, confined for nearly 2 years), and Takashi Nishikawa (26, confined in August, 2009) to renounce their faith. These persons were reported to be under confinement on on Feb. 2, 2010.

"We have determined that they are not under detention. They indicated that they renounced their faith -- although we do not know whether their statements are true or disguised," Mr. Uotani tells by email.

Some Unificationists held against their will have pretended to renounce their beliefs in order to escape confinement. Mr. Toru Goto, held by his family for more than 12 years, signed such renunciation letters. Mr. Goto is currently the president of the Japanese Victims' Association Against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion and has spoken out frequently during the last year against the scandal of selective enforcement of the law protecting Japanese citizens from kidnapping. He revealed in 2008 that his family had starved him almost to death during the last year of confinement in an effort to break his will.

Victims Testify to NGO's in Geneva

Mr. Goto and other victims gave their testimonies to representatives of human-rights organizations meeting at the recently-concluded 13th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Rev. Peter Zoehrer, an official of the Vienna-based Forum for Religious Freedom. Several victims also have been interviewed by U.S. government officials in Japan.

Since 1969 more than 4,300 members of the Unification Church have been kidnapped and confined by misguided relatives and opponents of the church, according to Mr. Dan Fefferman, President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. Some of the victims have been beaten, sexually assaulted or tortured while in captivity.

Mr. Goto's public awareness campaign has motivated his opponents to publish their counter-attack in the April issue of Monthly Times, a Japanese news magazine. In the article, Mr. Yoshifu Arita, an independent journalist, reports his roundtable discussion with three veteran critics of the Unification Church: Prof. Sadao Asami, a professor of religion who also describes himself as a cult expert, Mr. Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a lawyer, and Mr. Takashi Miyamura, a professional anti-cult activist who attempted to break Mr. Toru Goto. Monthly Times did not contact Mr. Goto or any other Unification Church member for comment. All participants in the discussion deny that kidnapping and confinement of Unificationists takes place as charged by Mr. Goto. Prof. Asami speculates in the article that Mr. Goto falsely claims that he was starved while in confinement, suggesting that Mr. Goto starved himself.

Unificationists Denounce Biased Article in Japanese Journal

The journal has been denounced by Japanese-speaking residents of the United States who have endured kidnapping and psychological torture at the hands of professional faith breakers in Japan. Mr. Hiroshi Jimbo, a Japanese member of the Unification Church residing in New Jersey tells that the article is unbalanced and misleading. Mr. Jimbo heads an organization of U.S. residents who survived coercive conversion in Japan and who are demanding that the U.S. government investigate the kidnapping scandal in Japan.

"As the representative of U.S. Victim Association, when I read the article, I was amazed at the attitude of those featured in the Times," Mr. Jimbo tells "They asserted their innocence that there was no evidence of confinement, but it is a fact that I and many of my fellow Unificationists have experienced the physical confinement where the only exit is to give up the faith and surrender," he added.

Mr. Jimbo continued: "Inside the closed room, abuse and assault are taking place, even there are cases of harassment or rape. Some of victims suffer Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Some ended up committing suicide."

"The promoters of this coercion need to hide such matters, which is why they made this article," he commented. 

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