The Action Committee against Abduction and Confinement
Aug. 4, 2010

Forced Conversion, “Stain” of Japan
Interactive Working Session with Japanese Ambassadors for Peace
“Religious Freedom & Human Rights in Japan: finding solutions”

Prominent leaders from Japan and Europe participated in a symposium (hosted by The International Coalition for Religious Freedom, Japan Committee) held at Kensei Memorial Hall in Chiyoda-Ku Tokyo on August 3. The theme discussed was ‘Religious Freedom & Human Rights in Japan: finding solutions’ Among the European delegation in attendance were Hasan Muratovic, a former prime minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Willem Van Eekelen, former minister of defense of Holland, as well as professional human rights activists and journalists. All together, 25 people from 11 nations participated. They engaged in active discussion centering on the problem of forced conversion and its solution.

For 2 days, the European leaders heard about the situation in Japan regarding the forced conversion and testimony of Mr. Toru Goto. He had been confined for 12 years and 5 months. Also, 2 other victims spoke.

At the symposium, Prof. Yoshio Watanabe, Chairman of the committee, stressed that people may think that freedom of religion is protected in all liberal democratic nations as a matter of course. However, it is not so. Regrettably, this is about Japan. Ones freedom of religion is blatantly violated in the form of forced conversion.

Mr. Kehlen gave his greeting, representing the entire European delegation, by saying, “Japan holds a great record in the field of protecting human rights. It is one of our reliable partners. However, Japan has one stain: The problem of forced conversion. If Japan wants to keep its current status as one of the leading nations in the international community protecting human rights, then the media have to take proper action. He addressed the irresponsibility of media in not having published this issue.”

Also, Mr. Antonio Stango, the Secretary General of the Helsinki Human Rights Committee of Italy asserted that the case of Mr. Goto, which involved violence and torture, contained numerous obvious violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Japan ratified. He suggested that the international community and NGOs should independently research the issue and make statements about the attempted forced conversion.

From the Japanese side, Mr. Tadashi Murou, a religious journalist, pointed out a few reasons why deprogrammers are not convicted and forced conversion has not been eliminated from Japanese society for such a long time. 1. The media do not report about this problem, so the people of Japan have almost no knowledge about this. 2. There is a conservative tradition that considers children are their parents’ belongings and children have to obey the parents. This tradition hinders the solution of this problem. 3. Japanese society is not able to rigidly distinguish between the problem of forced conversion and the issues of the Unification Church. Former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Jin Hinokida, had questioned the Commissioner General of the National Police Agency at??? the Diet, in the year 2000, regarding the problem of forced conversion. He mentioned that he had received the answer from the Commissioner General that regardless of the relationship with the victim, if there was an action which was against criminal law, the perpetrators must be properly convicted. Yet, still Goto’s case occurred. Mr. Hinokida called on the European participants to assist in letting the world know about Goto’s case and to distribute his picture, thus proving the inhuman way he was treated during the confinement.

Japan Victims' Association against Religious Kidnapping & Forced Conversion