1. Editor's Note
On January 12, 2000, a 19-year-old woman wrapped in a blanket was rescued from a private residence in the city of Kashiwazaki, Niigata prefecture. She had been held captive since being kidnapped on her way home from school on November 13, 1990, while in the fourth grade. Her rescue brought her back into the arms of her family after 9 years and 2 months.
The incident was reported widely in the Japanese print and visual media, and created a nationwide sensation. Many Japanese are likely to remember this incident even today. The person convicted of the kidnapping and false imprisonment was later sentenced to 14 years in prison.
We can only imagine the fear this woman experienced during her captivity. Even after her rescue, she must have gone through a difficult path of rehabilitation.
Misa, a woman in the Unification Church who was abducted and held captive for her religious views offers her own perspective on the Niigata incident.
"The woman involved in the Niigata kidnapping case had it better than I did," Misa wrote on her own web site. "When I think that at least she could hold out hope that sooner or later her parents would come to her rescue, it makes me feel envious of her and tears well up in my eyes. In my case, it was my parents who were holding me in captivity, and my siblings and relatives went along with them. There was no chance the police would come to my help.
"All I had was a feeling of despair that I would never be able to leave that place for the rest of my life." (quoted from Our revolting neighbor by Kazuhiro Yonemoto).
This is the tragedy of such abduction cases. More than ten years after being freed, Misa continues to take medication to treat the after-effects of her captivity.
The professional journal Rinsho Seishin Igaku (Clinical Psychology) published a paper in its October 2000 issue by a physician who treated another Unification Church member suffering post traumatic stress disorder from being abducted and held captive.
In this paper, the physician quoted the victim as saying, "I can never forget what my family did to me. I want to be removed from my parents' family registry," referring to the official document establishing paternity under Japanese law. The physician noted that even after a significant period had passed following the experience of being held captive, the victim showed difficulty forgiving the parents, similar to the way a woman who was raped might feel toward her attacker.
None of us would be here if it were not for our parents. Abduction and captivity cases rip to shreds the bonds of love between parents and children. Most victims of such cases experience difficulty in repairing their relationships with their parents after being set free.
The church is doing everything it can to make sure no more of our members experience such tragedies. As a person in a position of responsibility, I offer my deepest apologies to members that not enough was done in the past to deal with this issue.
I pledge to you I will work to remove the fear of abduction and captivity from our society, extend a helping hand to those who continue to suffer the after-effects of such incidents and make certain that those responsible for such incidents are held accountable for their actions both legally and morally.
The contents on this web site are intended to bring wider awareness to the depth of the tragedy of abduction and confinement incidents and to the suffering of the victims years after their release. We ask you to pray for the people who have been victimized in this way and lend your hand in the effort to make such incidents a thing of the past.
Japan Victims' Association against Religious Kidnapping & Forced Conversion