The Action Committee against Abduction and Confinement
Sep. 21, 2010

Appealing about Forced De-conversion Issues at the CESNUR International Conference

The 2010 Annual International Conference of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) was held at the University of Torino in Italy, from September 9th to the 11th. A presentation about the abduction and forced de-conversion problems in Japan was made at the conference.

The theme of the conference this year was “Changing Gods. Between Religion and Everyday Life”, and around 150 people, mostly scholars that study the New Religion Movement, participated. Mr. Dan Fefferman, the president of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (ICRF), gave a presentation entitled “Deprogramming in Japan”, in a subcommittee that met in the morning on Sept. 10, with the theme “Changing New Religion Movements”. During the presentation, Mr. Toru Goto, the chairman of the Japanese Victims Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion, shared his experience of 12 years and 5 months in captivity. It left a strong impression on the attendants, including Mr. Massimo Introvigne, the chairman of CESNUR, of the ongoing deprogramming activities in Japan; something that has terminated in the 1980s in the Western world.

Mr. Dan Fefferman explained the situation of forced de-conversion in Japan, comparing it to “deprogramming” in the West. He gave the following seven reasons why it hasn’t been resolved in Japan, and emphasized the fact that there are still victims of confinement at this very moment: 1) There are no other religious groups to work with since deprogramming is targeted to Unification Church members only, 2) the attitude of the major Christian churches in Japan are different from America, 3) the silence of the scholars, 4) no human rights group will take up the issue, 5) it is considered to be a “family issue”, 6) civil suit actions don’t give satisfactory results, and 7) it has never been indicted as a criminal case.

Mr. Toru Goto said “I appeal to everyone who attended this conference that you take interest in the deprogramming activities in Japan, and conduct objective investigations to encourage the Japanese government to exercise control over this criminal act.”

During service on Sept. 12, Mr. Toru Goto moved the hearts of the congregation of the Torino Unification Church, when he shared his experiences of overcoming persecutions.

Japan Victims' Association against Religious Kidnapping & Forced Conversion