This paper intends to set forth the basic facts concerning the ongoing abduction, secret confinement, and faith-breaking of Unification Church members in Japan. As the author is himself a UC member, it also constitutes a call to members of the academic community to examine and provide independent scholarship regarding the issues raised here. The UC estimates that about 4,300 of its members have undergone abduction and forced confinement to break their faith over the past four decades. Only about one-third of these or less return to the church. While large numbers of new religious movement (NRM) members in the West faced similar persecution during the 1970s and 80s, the phenomenon of “deprogramming” is still going on in Japan, as police and the courts have done little to stop it.
Many CESNUR scholars are well aware of the issues surrounding the deprogramming or forced de-conversion controversies in the West. Indeed, some of them were centrally involved in these so-called “cult wars.” For those who are new to the topic, a brief definition is appropriate. For the purposes of this paper, “deprogramming” refers to actions that attempt to de-convert the person from a group through kidnapping, forced confinement and various persuasion tactics. De-conversion without force is called "exit counseling." 
That kidnapping and forced de-conversion constitute a fundamental human rights violation is, or should be, obvious. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes it clear that “Everyone has the right… to change his religion or belief.” Similar language was adopted by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which includes “freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of [one’s] choice"… and [that] “no one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Japan is a member of both the UN and the ICCPR, and of course its own constitution also has guarantees of freedom of religion and protection against kidnapping and false imprisonment. 
In Europe and North America, religious kidnapping and faith-breaking were made famous by Ted Patrick, who coined the term “deprogramming” and admitted to holding scores of adults against their will in order to make them leave their religious communities. Many NRM’s were targeted, and a cottage industry of faith-breaking capitalized on the fears of worried parents. Numerous law cases resulted  and important academic debates ensued,  especially over the question of whether deprogramming could be justified on the grounds that NRM members had been brainwashed or otherwise influenced to the point that they were no longer able to exercise their free will. To make a long story short, Patrick and several other deprogrammers eventually found themselves in jail on felony charges, civil courts established that new religions were a protected minority group whose civil rights must be upheld, and the brainwashing argument was dismissed as lacking scientific validity. Finally, the organization known as the Cult Awareness Network was held liable of conspiracy to violate a certain believer’s civil rights and forced out of business.  Deprogramming was thus essentially defeated in the west by the mid-late 1980s, although sporadic cases continued to be reported for several years.
The forced de-conversion of NRM members actually began in Japan around the same time or even before Ted Patrick began his notorious activities in the US.  Since the late 1960s, the Unification Church has reported that more than 4,300 of its members have been victimized by this practice. Only about one-third of the victims were able to return to the church, either by escaping their captors or, more usually, by faking their apostasy. More than 100 members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses were also victimized, mostly in the 1990s. Since 2000,  the UC reports that current numbers remain unacceptably high at 10-20 cases per year. 
The deprogramming movement in Japan appears to be both better organized and more sophisticated that it was in the US. Based on field interviews with dozens of victims as well as reports from Unification Church sources, lengths of confinement are often longer than they were in the West.  Specially constructed confinement places have been established, sometimes with the knowledge of local police. Escapes are consequently more difficult, and police only rarely side with the victims. Deprogrammers often require victims to provide the names of fellow UC members in order to demonstrate that they are truly “out.” The families of these members are then approached by the faith-breakers. Normally, the deprogrammers themselves do not directly abduct or confine the victim, but convince the families to do this and then act as “exit counselors” during the confinement. Extreme tactics have also been reported, including sleep deprivation, psychological abuse, sexual harassment, starvation, and rape. Here are just a few notable examples. All except the Fujita case involve individuals who returned to the UC.
These are just a few of hundreds of documented cases of escapees who returned to the UC and were willing to let their names be used publicly. Beyond that are hundreds more who wish to keep their names private, and thousands more who were successfully “deprogrammed.” Among the latter are several categories: a) those who turned against the church and actively cooperate with the faith-breakers to recruit parents of new victims and/or cooperate in breaking the faith of new confinees; some also engage in lawsuits against the UC and persuade donors or fundraising clients to demand their money back, b) those who play no active role against the UC (the largest group) and c) those who remain non-members but actively oppose deprogramming.  There was also one case of a man who received serious brain damage attempting to escape from a third-story window, suffering such severe amnesia that he did not remember ever being a UC member.
Why has the practice of kidnapping, secret confinement and forced de-conversion been allowed to continue so long in Japan, while it has been eradicated in the West? I suggest several possible reasons:
a. Fewer groups are targeted. The vast majority of cases in Japan involve the Unification Church. Although more than 100 cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses during the 1990s were also reported, and also a smattering of smaller groups, under these circumstances NRMs have not formed an effective coalition.
b. The UC remains extremely marginalized in Japan’s society. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this paper, but include such factors as its leader and founder being a Korean, the UC’s practice of arranged marriage often involving international and interracial matches, fears that UC members will marry a foreigner and move away from Japan, the fact that many UC members remain involved in fundraising activities, fear of “cults” in the wake of the Aum Shinrikyo subway gassing affair, strong opposition from Japan’s left-wing political groups, and several high-profile “deprogramming” cases involving nationally known athletes or movie stars who had joined the UC but then turned against it.
c. The mainline churches play a much different role. In the US, mainline Christian leaders were outspoken in opposition to deprogramming and often joined in court actions to defend the rights of NRM members.  In Japan, most of the deprogrammers themselves are Christian ministers,  and the mainline churches have not actively opposed the practice - at times they have even supported it.
d. Academics remain on the sideline. Some have reported that their professional reputations and even their jobs may be at risk if they speak out in support of the rights of Unificationists.
e. Japanese human rights groups are not involved. Similarly, human rights groups are reticent to become involved, and those who oppose the Unification Church on political grounds are unwilling to stand up for the rights of its members even on civil libertarian grounds. 
f. Religious affiliation is considered a “family matter.” Japanese society generally considers that children should continue to obey parents in matters of religion even after the children become adults. Thus, even though the international law documents are clear on the issue and Japanese law guarantees religious freedom and forbids false imprisonment, public opinion remains unconcerned about the rights of young adults who convert to an unpopular religion.
g. Police in Japan turn a blind eye to reports made by people who are not family members. Due to the cultural difference stated previously, the police refuse to investigate reports by the church that a member has gone missing, and accept only the word of parents that there is no confinement, just a “family discussion” (family disagreement).
h. Prosecutors do not indict those responsible. In those cases where UC members have returned to the church and filed criminal charges, prosecutors do not indict the perpetrators. Not one such criminal case has been brought.  The case of Toru Goto, who was confined more than 12 years, was also dropped but is currently being reviewed by a commission which has authority to re-open the case after it was dropped by prosecutors in December 2009.
i. Civil courts fail to punish responsible parties. A small number of civil cases resulted in perpetrators being judged as having acted outside the law. However, few penalties have been imposed, and the Japanese Supreme Court even refused to enjoin the perpetrators from repeating their crime. 
Several UC members are currently missing, including two who were kidnapped in August and two more in September 2010. Some others who were abducted earlier this year have written letters of renunciation, apparently under duress. The police still refuse to investigate these cases on the grounds that they act on missing persons reports only if the reports are filed by family members.
Because of the lack of response of the Japanese government, the International Coalition for Religious Freedom and other UC-related groups have been striving to bring this matter to the attention to the international community. The US State Department has been responsive to our appeals and has included the issue of deprogramming in Japan in its International Religious Freedom Report virtually every year for the last ten years.  This year, we reached out to the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as various other international agencies and NGOs. 
To the academic community, we make the following appeal:
· Provide independent verification of the problem
· Draw attention to the current Goto case
· Raise awareness with counterparts in Japan
· Encourage Japanese intellectuals and institutions to address the issue
While the basic facts of this phenomenon cannot be denied by anyone who has interviewed the victims, the very existence of kidnapping, confinement and forced de-conversion in Japan remains controversial. The anti-UC lawyers group known as the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales has gone so far as to denounce our efforts to bring the “deprogramming” issue to the public as merely a smokescreen to deflect attention from the UC’s allegedly criminal fundraising practices. “There may be a fact that thousands of people have left the Unification Church in the past,” it states. However, “It is a plain fact that their withdrawal from the church is not a result of forced renunciation through kidnapping/confinement.” 
One Japanese scholar has argued that because the Japan UC is so different from the UC in the West, the findings of Western scholars such as Eileen Barker (debunking the “brainwashing” theory) do not apply. 
It is my hope that the need for additional
scholarly work on this subject is now apparent, and will be forthcoming soon.
Testimony of Toru Goto
(Mr. Goto delivered an abbreviated version of the follow text in person at the Torino CESNUR conference, September 10, 2010)
My name is Toru Goto. I was born in 1963. I joined the Unification Church in 1986 when I was 23 years old. One day in September of 1995, I was back at my parents' home in Tokyo when my family's relaxed and a cheerful atmosphere abruptly turned sour as I was surrounded by a number of people and pushed into a van, which drove me to an apartment arranged for the confinement. I was 31 years old.
After that, I was detained in three different apartments consecutively. In the third apartment I was confined for ten years and 2 months, for a total of 12.5 years. When my protracted ordeal was finally over, I was 44 years old.
This photo shows the apartment called Flower Home, where I was detained in a room on the 8th floor, as indicated with a dark circle. The entrance door (photo-2) was closed with security chains, which were padlocked further. You can never get out through this entrance. This photo shows the window lock in the first apartment (photo-3). This photo shows the window lock system. With this special window lock system installed, the window cannot be opened from inside. I attempted to destroy this lock by kicking it again and again in vain. This indicates a layout of the Flowerhome (diagram-1), which was very convenient for the confinement, because the room where I (red) was confined was most distant from the entrance. I have been informed that, two female Unification members were confined earlier in this apartment building, on the 5th and 7th floors respectively.
My family had a good house, not far from this apartment building. But they virtually kept it empty for the 12 years while I was confined. Instead, they moved to this apartment with all living necessities brought in order to maintain guard over me.
Please understand that, although my family members carried out the actions of kidnapping and confinement, they were not the kind of individuals who could dare to execute such malicious practices. On the contrary, we were originally in good terms with each other, and the children respected the parents. Systematically kidnapping and confining someone were the last things they could ever devise. That is to say, there were definitely other protagonists in my kidnapping and confinement. They were the professional “deprogrammers,” better described as counselors on forced conversion.
In my particular case, these two people were the perpetrators (photo-5): They were: Christian minister Yasutomo Matsunaga and professional deprogrammer Takashi Miyamura. My parents initially sought counsel with them. Similar to other cases, the self-proclaimed deprogrammers fiercely exposed my parents to tons of negative information about the Unification Church. When the parents became agitated and concerned enough, these deprogrammers singled out the methods of kidnapping and confinement as the only viable option to succeed in persuading the church members out of the faith.
In his attempts to break my faith, Miyamura sat in front of me, surrounded by my family members and ex-church members. As they spoke at me with full contempt and pity, I had to endure an enormous burden of dejection. Miyamura said: "You are mind-controlled!
You can hardly think with your own brain. Until your brain functions normally, you can never get out here."
The kidnappers and deprogrammers justified their criminal practices by employing the theory of mind control, which is a false science based on anti-religious bigotry. If I tried to argue against their claims, they threw abuses like "Idiot! Fool! Devil!" Then, they hit me with their palms, blaming my 'arrogant attitude'. They threw hot tea upon my face, shouting "Are you listening to me?" They also poured icy water down my back, shouting at me to “wake up!” Even when I got the flu with a fever higher than 40 degrees centigrade, they did not allow me to see a doctor. On top of that, I was forced to receive daily doses of abusive language against the church and its founder. My mental pain and hardship were beyond description.
During the detention, I frequently attempted to make my way by force. "Help me! Call the police, please! I am confined here!” I said screaming in full voice, dashing to the entrance door. To abort my advance, they put me in a “full nelson” wrestling hold, held me down and gagged my mouth. My face was covered with wounds and even disfigured. My whole body ached in such pain over night that I could barely sleep. They even covered me with a mattress to suppress my screams, and I was almost choked to death. My clothes were torn apart and drops of my blood fell to the floor. At one time, I could barely hear a neighbor's voice downstairs through a ventilation duct connecting to our bathroom. I climbed on the bath tub and shouted "Help me!" at the top of my voice into the duct.
Then, Miyamura came in, held my neck and pulled me down strongly. He tried to drag me back to the furthest room from the front. I resisted, holding onto anything I could, pulling down several electric appliances. The scuffle caused a mess in the kitchen and bleeding on my hands. Such violence was a daily occurrence during several years of my confinement.
When I was about to be 40 years old, jitteriness (anxiety?) and desperation in the protracted isolation from the rest of the world overwhelmed me. I made up my mind to demonstrate my resistance by hunger strikes. In the end, I fasted twice for 21 days each and once for 30 days. During the third fast, owing to fear for my life, I gave up fasting on the 30th day.
However, my captors retaliated by providing me with punishingly small amount of food, like liquid meals, for as long as about two years after the hunger strike ended. This photo shows my body only 3 days after my liberation (photo-6). I was in a state of extreme malnutrition, not as a result of my fasting but due to the prolonged food deprivation my captors imposed on me during the two years after my fasting.
In February 2008, after 12 years and 5 months had passed in detention, my family suddenly asked me: "Let us confirm whether you have any intention to examine the Unification Church or not." I replied; "I will continue my protest on and on!" Then, they ordered me: "If that is the case, you get out of this place right away!" They would not give me any money or anything but my minimum clothes in the middle of winter. I protested, but my light-weight and weakened body was easily lifted and thrown out of the apartment.
Free at last, but nowhere to go! Desperate for help, I began walking towards the church headquarters, about 10 km away. However, due to long years of house arrest, my legs were so feeble and my ankles so painful that I could barely move ahead. After hours of walking, I pleaded for help from pedestrians and the second person happened to be a member of the Unification Church. She hired a taxi to take me to the church headquarters. I could hardly stand on my own feet and was immediately hospitalized. The doctor diagnosed me with "Degradation of the whole muscle system, serious muscle atrophy due to little use, malnutrition and anemia," requiring about 50 days of hospitalization.
Right after my discharge, I filed criminal charges against those involved in my confinement. The police and the prosecution office, however, did not arrest a single person, nor did they even obtain warrants to search for evidence. After more than one year since I filed the charges, on 9th December 2009, the Public Prosecutor's Office decided, quite incredibly, not to indict the accused. I cannot accept such a decision!
If a criminal case like mine will not be prosecuted and punished, such horrible practices will go on and I will not be the last victim in the similar crimes.
(end of testimony)
Transcript of Q and A between
Takashi Yamaguchi and Dan Fefferman
(Yamaguchi) My name is Takeshi Yamaguchi. I belong to the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales. Me and my colleagues have been working on cases involving the Unification Church, against them, representing the victims mostly. And the Unification Church, while it has been making a lot of claims, has not been able to back anything up. And while it may be true… if what Unification Church says is true, Japan is not China. We have an independent press. We have freedom of speech. We have NGOs. None of them are paying attention to this. And if it has, they should be paying plenty of attention to this. And the other thing is, I mean, what do you mean, define by deprogramming? If that many people are deprogrammed, how come that many don’t make their say in the public? There’s only like, 30 cases that have ever been filed legally, and recently after 2000, to my knowledge only two cases and damages have ever been awarded. And one of them was the case that Dan Fefferman recognized and that allegations of rape or sexual harassment or…has never been recognized. So the Unification Church could make their claims all they want, but, I mean, it’s up to them to back them up, and they haven’t backed anything up. My personal opinion is that this campaign is merely a campaign to thwart police investigations against the Unification Church which has been conducted since November of the year 2007. I mean, the church facilities are being raided for their illegal fundraising and they just need something to turn the eye, or just change the topic. And also, so that is what I think, I mean, personally, so what Dan Fefferman has said is not true. So I think that it’s only fair that the people who have attended this meeting should hear the other side of the story. If you are interested you could go the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) conference next year in Barcelona. Lawyers from Japan are attending conferences of the ISCA every year so that’s about it. It’s more of a comment than a question.
(Fefferman) Thank you Mr. Yamaguchi. Well of course, I think that what I said is true. Some of it is open to debate. But I really invite the scholars here to do their own investigations to find out for themselves. I know that many of you here have investigated deprogramming in the United States and Europe and it was alleged at that time that these charges were not true, that these incidents didn’t happen. One thing that is different in Japan is that the media in Japan, to the extent that they have covered these issues, have covered them almost universally in a way that is prejudicial to the Unification Church. Scholars are not involved in Japan, and one of the reasons they are not involved is that they are taking a professional risk if they defend the Unification Church. That’s one of the reasons we are appealing to the West, to the western scholars, to get involved. And finally I do hope that people will attend the ICSA conference, though not to compete with CESNUR. I hope I will be invited to the ICSA conference to give our side of the story so that not only what side of the story is given there. Thank you.
 Many people prefer to avoid the term “deprogramming” as it implies acceptance of the fact that the person was “programmed” rather than acting as a free agent in the first place. Terms such as “faith-breaking” and “forced de-conversion” as alternatives will be used interchangeably with “deprogramming” here. It is noteworthy that in the Japanese case, there is also evidence of “forced conversion” to rival Christian churches, as Japanese deprogrammers are usually Christian ministers, and victims are required to attend Bible studies as part of their “rehabilitation” before being allowed to go outside unsupervised. As a result, some Christian churches in Japan are reportedly comprised primarily of “deprogrammed” ex-UC members.
 Article 11 of the Japanese Constitution states: “The people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental human rights.” Article 20 states: “Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all.” Article 220 of the Japanese Penal Code provides that “Anyone who would arrest or confine other individuals unlawfully shall be subject to imprisonment for the period of more than three months and not exceeding seven years.” Article 223 states: “A person who, by intimidating another through a threat to another's life, body, freedom, reputation or property or by use of assault, causes the other to perform an act which the other person has no obligation to perform, or hinders the other from exercising his or her rights, shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 3 years.”
 See Lee Boothby, “White Paper Report and Call to Action to Uphold the Right of Thought and Conscience by Ending Forcible Deprogramming, International Coalition for Religious Freedom, 2003. http://www.religiousfreedom.com/documents/Japan/Boothby.htm
 See J. Gordon Melton, “Brainwashing and the Cults: The Rise and Fall of a Theory,” CESNUR, https://www.cesnur.org/testi/melton.htm
 Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, “Cult Awareness Network,” http://www.religioustolerance.org/acm2.htm
 It has been presumed by many in the West that deprogramming began in the US and was later imported to Japan. Recent research reveals this is probably not the case. Rather, the practice evolved in Japan parallel to the practice in the US. The first documented case seems to be that of Hatsuko Honma, the daughter of a Japan Communist Party activist, in April, 1971, the same year that Patrick began his activities in the US. However, Ms. Honma was not actually the first such case. Imprisoned in a mental hospital, she “found a tiny piece of paper, rolled up, which had an inscription written on it by her cousin, a UC member and former hospital inmate.” See Andrew C. Davies, “The Kidnap Ministry,” a divinity thesis written for the Unification Theological Seminary. http://www.religiousfreedom.com/documents/Japan/The%20Kidnap%20Ministry%20by%20Andrew%20Colin%20Davies.htm#_ftnref16
 This is according to a statement to the author by a State Department officer after he returned from a 2009 fact-finding mission to Japan in which he met with officials of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
 At this writing at least four UC members are missing, two in August, and two more in September 2010. Several earlier victims in the same year have written renunciation letters, but it cannot be determined if these were written under duress.
 In Japan, confinements of several months are almost commonplace. Confinements of 1-2 years have been documented in a number of cases. One recent case involved a man who had been held for more than 12 years. As he had written a renunciation letter after three years, the UC had considered his case closed.
 One example is Asako (last name withheld), who suffered from serious post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of her more than four-month confinement and later spoke out in sympathy with UC members who are victims of this practice, even though she herself renounced the UC. Her story is detailed in a book by journalist Kazuhiro Yonemoto, a UC critic who likewise opposes confinement and faith-breaking, in his book “Our Unpleasant Neighbors.” Joho Center Publishing, in Japanese, chapter six. http://kidnapping.jp/torn-e.html. “"Though I recognize problems of the Unification Church,” she stated, “I also sympathize with the very agony and pains experienced by the plaintiff (victim Rie Imari) during her confinement, the very reason for which she filed the case. I had a similar, horrible experience under detention. Why don't you hear what the plaintiff has to say?”
 See for example the state of the National Council of Churches, USA at http://www.religiousfreedom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=477%3Ancc&catid=47%3Adeprogramming-issues&Itemid=30. The NCC was also involved in several high-profile court cases against “deprogramming.”
 See “Activists involved in Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion in Japan,” http://www.religiousfreedom.com/PDF/Japan/Goto/7.%20Activists%27%20List.pdf
 This was not the case in the US, where liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union opposed deprogramming. See “Kidnapping People from Religious Groups,” adopted by the ACLU National Board, March 5, 1977. http://www.religiousfreedom.com/documents/Japan/aclu.htm
 See “Deprogramming Cases Dismissed in Japan” at http://www.religiousfreedom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=478%3Adismissed&catid=47%3Adeprogramming-issues&Itemid=30
 In the case of Mitsuko Ishikawa Antal, the Japanese Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision not to enjoin Mitsuko’s parents or her faith-breaker (Rev. Yoshio Shimizu) from repeating their offense, even though it admitted she had been confined against her will on two previous occasions. In a pretrial interview in 1996, Shimizu testified that he had attempted persuade more than 50 UC members to leave the church, and admitted that in at least some of these cases, they were confined. http://www.religiousfreedom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56&Itemid=30
 The State Department’s 2009 report on Japan says: “There were some reports of societal abuse or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. The Unification Church reports that on February 10, 2008 an adult member of the Church who had been held against his will by his family members for over 12 years was released and went to Unification Church headquarters.” (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/127272.htm) We expect a more definite report in the current reporting period.
 See the statement of the Universal Peace Federation to the 13th Session of the UN Human Rights Council at http://www.religiousfreedom.com/PDF/UPFStatementonJapanReligiousFreedom.pdf
 See “Proclamation” of Dec. 9, 2009 under “What’s new” at: http://www1k.mesh.ne.jp/reikan/english/index-e.htm. The statement says in part:
“The Unification Church leaders are advocating that approximately 4,000 of its members have been kidnapped, held by force, tortured, and forced to renounce their faith since 1966 in the country of Japan, a country self-proclaiming to be one of the leading countries in the world. They also vocally deplore that not even one medium has reported, and not even one police agency has investigated such kidnapping cases… The National Network of Lawyers against Spiritual Sales has been helping to redress damages suffered by victims of the Unification Church since its foundation in 1987, and its members have never even heard of the existence of such a kidnapping organization consisting of family members, Christian ministers, and lawyers who are against the Unification Church. Needless to add, there is no lawyer in the national network who has engaged in such kidnapping and/or confinement. Furthermore, no specific and/or substantial basis has ever been disclosed by the Unification Church concerning the several thousands of members being kidnapped and confined systematically in an organized manner. There may be a fact that thousands of people have left the Unification Church in the past. Some of them have left the church because they had been required to fulfill extremely heavy quotas of physical and financial contributions to the church and its activities. Some of them have left the church because they came to see the antisocial nature of the church through their own church activities or through discussions with their families. It is a plain fact that their withdrawal from the church is not a result of forced renunciation through kidnapping/confinement…We, members of the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales strongly urge the government and investigating authorities to stay unaffected by the Unification Church's campaign to deflect criticism against them and to keep pursuing their criminal responsibilities with unyielding resoluteness.
 Yoshihide Sakurai, Unification Church: Its Missionary Strategy to Japan and Korea-Japan Blessing, Hokkaido University Publication, 2010, p.580. http://www.hucc.hokudai.ac.jp/~n16260/eng/index.html