4.Abduction and Confinement - Violation of Human Rights must be Forbidden

Written by: M. S. (Shizuoka)

It was in 1991, my 5th year with the UC when I was engaged in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima. I noticed my parents' words and deeds apparently influenced by anti-UC priests. In March, my parents said they would drive to Fukuyama for vacation. My church leader advised me to be careful. But I was not so aware of abduction and confinement that I casually left the church, saying, "In case I am detained, I shall jump out of windows to escape!"

My father was driving the car while my mother and I sat in the backseat. Along the way, my mother said, "Actually, we want you to go to your omiai (an introduction for arranged marriage) today." I wanted to get married in the church, so I told her that I have no intention of omiai. Then, mother said, "I understand you very well, but this is hard to reject as it was introduced by one of our close relatives. All I am asking is for you to be there." So, I reluctantly agreed to go along with them.

I was taken to a one-room apartment equipped with a self-lock door. Inside, I noticed two of female cousins as well as cloth-covered costume case at the corner and a table in the middle. Realizing their plot, I tried to walk back, but it was too late. The door knob was chained and padlocked. The windows to the porch were also chain-locked. The chains were concealed with ribbons. I was overwhelmed by emotions of regret, anger and shock all at once.

"Get me out of here! I have to go!", I shouted loudly. But the parents were immune and said, "Why don't you study here together from now on?" Their overly sedate manner was scary. I later learned that they had been carefully instructed by anti-UC Christian ministers and former UC members all about the confinement, which, for them, is means as 'custody': how a confined person will behave; how to react to it etc. before the execution.

Parents are advised to stay calm and not to get angry; to show their willingness to study with their children no matter how they would react. I also learned from my parents later that, when they drove me to the apartment, a vehicle with some male relatives followed our car so that they can catch me if I ever try to run away. They usually confine people in an apartment room that is above the third floor lest they can escape by jumping down. In my case, I was confined in a room on the forth or fifth floor.

From that day on, my life in confinement started. Both of my parents had jobs, but they seemed to have taken a long leave of absence. Pastors did not show up for the first 3 days, apparently watching my readiness to listen to them based on my parents' reports. The fact that I had to stay in a small room under my parents' day-long surveillance drove me crazy. When I woke up at night, either my father or my mother were awake gazing at me. My father bound the entrance padlock's key on his wrist with a lace and carried it with him all the time. No matter what I said, all he would say was, "We want to study here with you together", like a parrot.

I began fasting from the day one. But since I was not confident in my physical stamina, I stopped it in order to prepare for my escape in good physical and mental conditions.

On the 4th day into detention, a Christian pastor, Shoji Takayama from a church in Niwase, Okayama City, came to see me. He seemed to be in his 40s, not so emotional and speaking in a halting manner.

Day after day, he pointed out what he claimed errors in the Divine Principle in accordance with the Bible; criticized Father Moon and his family by showing photos and documents; and made me listen to the UC's purported scandals. My parents listened with me, but their attitude was hardly 'studying with me' but rather 'anticipating how I realize the UC's faults.'

I schemed to escape by breaking the porch's window, but unable to find a chance as my parents were with me all the time in high alert.

Several days later, I thought of escape by pretending to be ill and being taken to a hospital. The pastor was hesitant to take me out, citing past cases in which some members managed to escape by playing sick. In the end, however, my parents gave in. I requested for a big hospital, not like a private clinic, for smooth escape. I was taken to a hospital by my parents and younger sister.

While we were in the waiting lounge, a moment occurred when I was with my father alone. "It's now or never!", I thought to myself and dashed off to a cab at the entrance. I hopped into the taxi, but seeing my father running after me desperately, the cab driver would not start off. Finally, my father caught me up. But at that moment, I handed to the driver a note prepared in advance saying, "I am detained. My name is OO. My address is OO".

During the treatment, I kept on shouting to doctors and all people around, "I'm being confined! Please help me!" But it was a hospital. People discounted my claim as if I were mentally ill. After the treatment was over, however, an administrative officer came up to me and said, "This may be a serious affair and we called police. Please talk with them." We were led to a room in the basement, where two police officers in uniform were there.

They spoke with my parents in whispers and came to me. I asked for their police identification, then pleaded about the confinement. To my astonishment, the police officers yelled at me: "How could you call it a confinement while your parents are with you! Stay with them as long as you left home unilaterally!" I was struck dumb at the officers who knew exactly what was happening and still behaved that way.

It was really a shock that I was taken back to the apartment in the end. My parents were surprisingly cool as if nothing had happened, apparently thanks to thorough instructions they received from the anti-UC ministers. My life under detention went on. They were so trained that they won't raise their voices or say things like "Shut up and listen!" or apply violence to me.

The study sessions with the pastor, my parents and myself went on for the next one month. Every day, I had to hear criticism about the UC in a closed space, from which I cannot communicate with anyone else. Gradually, I became mentally confused and fell into a state where I would not keep my faith after my return to the UC.

One day, I told the pastor and my parents that I would quit the UC. "Why? Which part of my talks made you decide so?", they asked me, but I did not elaborate. Pastor Takayama was not sure, as he put it, "Some people pretend leaving the church". He decided to call for Pastor Hisoka Murakami from Kyoto to talk with me.

Pastor Murakami came twice in order to ascertain whether I decided to quit the UC out of my genuine conviction of faults in UC teachings. They assessed positively and judged it safe for me to go. Thus, I wrote a letter to the Fukuyama Church expressing my intention of leaving the UC. Then, I asked the pastors' permission to go to the church and pick up my stuff. But they persuaded me not to go, telling me how scary the UC was. They warned that anything could happen should I go and meet with the UC members. A few days later, another pastor by the name of Shinya Waga came from Tokyo to see me.

Female ex-members used to visit me from the time while I was in detention. Now that I left the church, they came almost every night to ascertain my true motivation or examine my attachment to the UC. It is not the Christian priests but the ex-members who can best detect if one has any regret for leaving the UC. For instance, knowing that the UC members do not drink alcoholic beverages, one day they deliberately brought me a canned liqueur, presumably either as a gesture of their intimacy or a test of my distance from the church doctrine.

Afterward, out of my genuine desire to study the Bible all over again, I asked my parents to let me stay at the apartment alone for a little while. I went to Pastor Takayama's church and studied the Bible. I also attended the church service a couple of times. However, there were very little that moved my heart more strongly than what I learned from the UC.

At the service, I met a few former members who had been at a loss about their life's direction or how they should live. They seemed to be there merely because they needed a tentative place to stay.

The signboard hanging over Takayama's church read, "Invited: the Aggrieved by Unification Church, Jehovah's Witness or other heresies. Help available!" After the service, I was led to another room, where those parents whose children are in the UC and came to seek for help were sitting, together with several former members.

"Your children cannot leave the UC unless you convince them to do so in an environment where they are cut off completely from the UC", said the Takayama group. The parents said, "How is that possible?" Pastor Takayama himself would never mention about confinement specifically. "I am not in a position to talk about it", leaving that task to the ex-members.

Then, the former members elaborated the specifics. "The UC is an anti-social group. You cannot let your children take part in such activities." Parents received such messages through those conversations and bit by bit, they were convinced of the confinement as the only means of getting their beloved children back.

Pastor Takayama said to me one day, "If you donated money or purchased some stuff from the UC, I can introduce a lawyer so you can claim full reimbursement. We can smash the UC by inflicting financial damages upon them."

For about a month, I prepared my mind to return to the UC without being noticed by the parents. In the meantime, I read all the materials they had brought to me such as collection of notes by female ex-members, books critical to the UC by Shinya Waga etc.. None of them could demolish my core faith in the UC.

Finally, leaving behind a note to the parents, I returned to the UC. Upon entering into the prayer room, I found a card with my portrait drawn on it. I was made aware of members' prayers while I was away.

The fear of being caught again, however, tormented me like a hell for at least one year. Suppose I found a car parking at the roadside, I got scared as if someone might come out and kidnap me. Or somebody may suddenly show up on the street and drag me into the car. Owing to the constant terror, I had to wear sunglasses on the roads. It took me some time to brush away the fear of being put into such intolerable environments or emotional torment I suffered through the confinement.

My parents had little alternatives but to confine me, because they had no other information than horrible criticism against the UC. I cannot blame them, as their motivation was nothing but love for me. Now, I have two children and my parents treat me like other family members. I feel grateful to them. I do believe, however, the malicious measures like abduction and confinement, which flatly deny our faith and disregard human rights, must be categorically forbidden.

Japan Victims' Association against Religious Kidnapping & Forced Conversion