Police reportedly turn a blind eye to persecution. and prosecutors refuse to hold those responsible accountable.
Oct. 28 -- Abductions, secret confinements and forced conversions of believers in minority religions continue to go unpunished in Japan, as yet another apparent victim has renounced her former faith after months in captivity, according to reports.
“Police [in Japan] turn a blind eye to this blatant violation of human rights, and prosecutors refuse to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Luke Higuchi, a survivor of three months’ confinement who kept his faith in the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Higuchi (pictured left), now serves as president of the U.S.-based Survivors Against Forced Exit (SAFE) a support group for victims of attempted forced conversion.
“Last week we received a letter from Ms. ‘N.M.,’ who disappeared in July,” Higuchi said. “Sadly, she writes that she has renounced her faith. However, she also confirms that her life in the church was a happy one.”
Ms. “T.T.” also sent a letter of renunciation recently after going missing for several weeks, Higuchi reported. “However, we have not been able to communicate directly with either Ms. T.T. or Ms. N.M. In some cases, victims send renunciation letters in order to reduce security precautions to prevent their escape to freedom. So we cannot say for sure what their true state of mind is.”
Another apparent victim, Mr. ‘K.M.’, remains missing. He has not been seen either by church members or supervisors at his place of employment since September 5. His fiancé, who lives in Hungary and is a fellow member of the church, has also been unable to contact him.
“Police often use the excuse that it is a ‘family matter,’” Higuchi explained. “But because of their prejudice against unpopular religions, they refuse to receive missing-persons reports even from the victim’s fiancé, not to mention his pastor and closest friends. This is outrageous, because the perpetrators of these crimes are usually relatives. So the police end up on the wrong side of human rights!”
Mr. Toru Goto, now 44, says he was confined for more than 12 years in a small Tokyo apartment because he refused to renounce his faith. Goto claims that prosecutors refused to indict relatives and “deprogrammers” who conspired to falsely imprison him and refused to let him leave the apartment even for exercise.
In the last decade, the Unification Church of Japan reports that about ten of its members are abducted for forced conversion each year, with Protestant ministers usually doing the “faith-breaking.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have also reported being victimized by the practice in Japan, according to a State Department report.
“Often it is actually forced conversion,” Higuchi stated. “In my own case and most others, the faith-breaker not only tried to make me leave my church but attempted to convince me that I should accept his brand of Christianity. Meanwhile, my family was holding me captive with the minister’s full knowledge and advice.”
Luke Higuchi may be reached at
Note: ICRF does not release the names of abduction victims without their permission, out of respect for their privacy. However, competent researchers and law enforcement agencies are encouraged to contact us for confidential details.