The Words of the Fefferman Family

Good Will Tour Nets News Coverage for Japan's Religious Freedom Scandal

Dan Fefferman
September 7, 2010

The second-largest daily newspaper in Montevideo, Ultimas Noticias, has brought that nation's attention to the scandal of kidnapping and forced-conversion taking place in Japan. The article appeared following the visit to Uruguay of Rev. In Jin Moon, president and CEO of the Unification Church USA during the last week of August at which time she briefed a top editor of Ultimas Noticias on the issue. A news feature appearing Sept. 2, 2010 was carried under the headline: "Complaint issued before UN about forced-faith conversions" The English translation of the article follows below:

Montevideo, September 2--The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) has filed a complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Council asking that the government of Japan take measures against the abduction, confinement and even torture of its citizens who are being forced to undergo religious conversion.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states clearly in Article 18 that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, alone or in community with others, and, in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Thus, forced conversion is the act or attempt to change one's faith, belief or religious affiliation coercively by subjecting someone to involuntary isolation and physical and psychological and social threats, social, financial deprivation or harm. Forced conversion is the antithesis of religious freedom."

"Shockingly, this criminal and immoral act is happening today not only where one might expect it in Darfur (against Christians and African religionists), Communist China (against Falun Gong practitioners), or Egypt (against Coptic Christians), but also in the advanced democratic nation of Japan," according to the ICRF.

Another aspect revealed is that: "Over the past 43 years, an estimated 4,300 followers of the Unification Church (Unification Church) have been subjected to this or similar criminal practices. Scores of Jehovah's Witnesses have also been victimized."

Likewise, the situation that moves ICRF leaders worldwide to act urgently is that "more than 1,300 members of the Unification Church have returned to their religious communities recounting tales of kidnapping, forced confinement, beatings, food deprivation, harassment, rape and other heinous and humiliating acts in an attempt to convince or force them to renounce their faith."

Most serious is that, the "Japanese police have refused to investigate cases in which adult Unification Church members have been kidnapped, on the grounds that it is a 'family matter.' Japanese prosecutors have declined to press charges for similar reasons. Japanese courts and authorities have failed to provide redress in numerous cases."

Toru Goto is director of an association of Japanese victims working against abduction and forced conversion. His case is one of the most striking. He was arrested by his own family and detained in a room as a prison and subjected to daily pressure to renounce their faith with insults and aggressions, as he stated after his release.

He was detained in a prison-like room and subjected to daily pressure to renounce his faith. At the end of his confinement, he was severely malnourished and had to be hospitalized for 50 days. Yet, even in this case, the Tokyo prosecutors declined to bring charges.

At the end of his confinement, he was severely malnourished and had to be hospitalized for 50 days. Yet, even in this case, the Tokyo prosecutors declined to bring charges.

According to the ICRF there are many reported cases, and that besides the little legal support there is for victims, "it is shameful that members of the clergy from various churches in Japan have tolerated, with complicity in the kidnappings, and have often participated in attempts at forced conversion."

Dan Fefferman is the president of International Coalition for Freedom Religion, which is "a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender or ethnic origin." ICRF "intends to be a leader promoting religious freedom for all people."

It emphasizes: "We believe that every individual and religious entity, of whatever nation or belief, possesses the right to freedom of religious belief and expression as his or her conscience leads. This right, of course, must be balanced against the requirements of generally applicable criminal law."

Currently at least five members of the Unification Church in Japan have disappeared. It is believed that they have been confined and detained against their will because of their faith.

Translation provided by Ray Mas, a staffer at the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. 

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