The Words of the Fefferman Family

Japanese News Media Ignores Nationwide Protest Rallies

Dan Feffeerman
December 7, 2010

More than 21,000 people throughout Japan rallied to protest human rights and religious freedom violations -- yet the Japanese government and media continue to ignore calls for investigations into abductions and forced conversions.

Despite the massive outpouring in all 47 prefectures in Japan -- with 3,200 people gathering in Tokyo alone -- the government refuses to address the issue, and the Japanese news media continues to neglect coverage of the events. The Kyodo news agency even refused to run a media advisory on its basic newswire service.

In Tokyo, organizers presented a petition to the Diet, calling on Japanese lawmakers to investigate and hold public officials accountable to uphold Japanese anti-abduction laws and constitutional guarantees of religious freedom. The petition was addressed to the speaker of Japan's House of Representatives, Takahiro Yokomichi, and the president of the House of Councilors, Takeo Nishioka. Several Diet members received the petitions in front of the Diet Building.

The main speakers at the Tokyo event included Toru Goto, the victim of a 12-year confinement and now chairman of the Japanese Victims Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion, and Masayoshi Kajikuri, chairman of the Unification Church's Japan Kidnapping-Confinement Task Force. "Faith-breaking under forced confinement is a kind of spiritual rape," Mr. Goto declared. "It is time for Japan to live up to our constitution and protect the rights of religious believers to choose their own religion."

In addition, Mrs. Namiko Katagiri, a former victim who had been confined to an apartment in Sapporo city for five months, read the petition. Despite the pleas of her husband, police refused to search for her or to assist in her release after he located her confinement place.

The protests in Japan come as similar marches and rallies are being held in the U.S. to draw attention to the human rights violations perpetrated on Unification Church members, who have been confined by "faith-breakers" in an attempt to force them leave the religion. Experts confirm that the government and police have done little to stop the practice -- a violation of both Japanese law and international human rights standards.

The rally was sponsored by the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, the Unification Church, and an association of victims who returned to the Unification Church after escaping or being released from confinement.

More than 4,000 Unification Church members have been subjected to human rights violations during the past 40 years. Between 10 and 20 Unification Church members are abducted in Japan each year to undergo forced de-conversions. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force and prison-like conditions. There have been reports of beatings, starvation and rape. Approximately 1,300 abductees have returned to the Unification Church after their ordeals. As frustration with Japan's inaction mounts, victims have been increasingly speaking out on the abduction issue.

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Contributed by Dan Fefferman, International Coalition for Religious Freedom(ICRF)

About ICRF

The International Coalition for Religious Freedom is a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender or ethnic origin. 

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