The Words of the Burton Family
A respected Buddhist priest in Japan has called for Japanese authorities to prosecute those responsible for kidnapping and imprisoning members of the Unification Church.
In an official letter to the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution assisting the state prosecutor dated March 14, Rev. Dohki Mihara, a Sotoshu Buddhist priest, wrote: "Getting to know about Mr. Toru Goto's case of religious kidnapping and confinement that lasted for 12 years and 5 months, a case which was clearly based on a purpose to break his faith in the Unification Church, I felt deep despair and grief to find out that Japan, although calling itself a cultured nation, has not acquired human decency, common sense in respect for human rights, or the basic attitude of democratic nation."
Mr. Goto's case was dismissed by Tokyo prosecutors with no indictments but will now be considered by a citizens' panel empowered to re-open the case. The letter continued: "I strongly ask the police and the prosecutor's office to courageously act against such illegal crimes according to the law. For this, I ask the people who have been chosen as the members of the committee for this case to indict this case so it may be judged righteously in court."
Rev. Mihara is the former president of the Religionists' Forum, an ecumenical association of Buddhist, Christian, and Shinto religious leaders in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. He was speaking to the fact that since 1969 more than 4,300 members of the Unification Church have been kidnapped and confined by misguided relatives and opponents of the church. As has been reported, some of the victims have been beaten, sexually assaulted or tortured while in captivity.
Rev. Mihara's letter defended his call for action by the following:
"If we cannot stand up for justice and give punishments to those who committed crimes, that nation cannot be called a law-abiding nation based on the spirit of democracy, because democracy fundamentally builds on the security of the freedom of thought, creed, and speech."
The priest's letter also explained that he had reconciled with his own daughter after initially opposing her decision to join the Unification Church. He wrote:
"Back then, I was not able to forgive my daughter who was attracted to another religion when her father is a Buddhist priest, so I faced her directly with no intervention of a third person and had long and straight-forward conversations and arguments. After these frank discussions with my daughter, I was able to understand her true faith and peace of mind. Today, my daughter and I have not only recovered our trustful relationship of parent and child but have built a stronger relationship where we can rely on each other more than ever."
On May 8, 2010, Richard Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, a blog specializing in religion news, posted a comprehensive report on the issue citing www.familyfed.org, the U.S. State Department, and four other reporting websites (barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/japan-unificationists-accuse-christian-pastors-of-participation-in-forced-deprogramming/).
On April 28 the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm focused on issues of religious liberty, began tracking the coverage in the New York Post and the Examiner.com (becketinternational.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/japan-unification-church-members-speak-out-against-forced-conversions/).
Contributed by: Press Release from Unification Church North American Headquarters