On the other hand, the number of colleges has increased, reaching 773 as of 2009. Thus, college administrations will surely encounter hardship. Under this social circumstance, oppressive measures against minority religious groups are used to promote the campus’ image.
As the number of students decreases due to fewer children being born, and colleges therefore struggle for survival, administrations need to create positive images, showing that they are producing qualified and employable students. Anti-cult measures, including cult “prevention” and “rescue” activities, are seen as good risk management.
In this chain of events, students belonging to student clubs associated with minority new religions are being targeted.
Essentially, colleges should be evaluated in terms of the level of serious learning and research performance. But as the colleges put priority on stability, voices of reason from their educational personnel are subdued, while administrators with religious prejudice or partisan staff and student associations add their anti-CARP sentiments.
A case in point is pamphlets and documents criticizing CARP (as mentioned in a previous installment). An investigation into the pamphlets distributed at Ehime University, for example, discovered that they were produced not by the university administration but Professor Y.
Among the pamphlets circulated at Hiroshima University, some were prepared by leftist student groups, while placed on the notice board at Okayama University was a page of Shimbun Akahata, an organ of the Japanese Communist Party, attacking the Unification Church (see previous installment).
A variety of masterminds are engineering these anti-cult measures on campuses. Some colleges have set up a specialized on-campus unit such as an “Anti-Cult Assembly” (Okayama and Ehime Universities), while other colleges assign the task to their Student Support Section or Health Control Center.
In any case, these activities are conducted on the common pretext of supporting students. A point of concern is that many such anti-cult units collaborate with outside anti-cult organizations or anti-Unification Church campaign bodies. In April 2011 Chiba University, which has been notorious for its radical anti-cult measures, held orientation sessions in eight departments for new students. In addition to open criticism of CARP being voiced in a couple of departments, new guidelines on “student club promotion” were announced, including such requirements as:
(1) Any promotion of activities to students, both on and off (emphasis added) the campus, requires permission from the university administration.
(2) Students not complying with the above rule shall be “guided” by their advising teachers and staff.
(3) If such students do not comply, their guardians shall be notified.
(4) If they do not behave according to guidelines, students shall be subjected to “guidance” by outside experts.
The above rules governing students' missionary activities off the campus are obviously beyond the university’s authority, even for maintaining school order. They imply the extraordinary persistence with which the university attempts to isolate its students from minority religions both on and off campus. It is worth noting that the administration openly declares its “collaboration with outside experts.”
Then, who are these “outside experts”? An article titled “Anti-cult measures on campus - status and challenges” was written by Professor Kenji Kawashima of Keisen Women's College and appeared in Colleges and Students (vol.85, September 15, 2010), a publication of the Japan Student Support Unit, which is an independent administrative body under the Ministry of Education:
"[The anti-cult movement] is carried out by the Japan Anti-Cult Association. Here, the issues are human rights violation, manipulation of ideas (e.g., mind control, brainwashing) and cult activities targeting students," the article states. "Recognizing the needs of cult-related information sharing among the campuses, the National Anti-Cult Campus Network was launched by lawyers and experts dedicated to cult research. Many more colleges are expected to join the Network in the future."
Prof. Kawashima wrote this article as “one of the promoters of the National Anti-Cult Campus Network.”
The National Anti-Cult Campus Network was launched in March 2006 by registering the colleges concerned about the scandals involving a new Christian group called “Providence,” coming from South Korea. The Network started with about 40 colleges in the metropolitan area, expanding to 121 colleges across the country by February 2011.
Its nine promoters include Prof. Kawashima, Kimiaki Nishida (associate professor, Shizuoka Prefecture College), lawyer Taro Takimoto, Atsushi Yamatodani (Osaka University master’s course professor).
Prof. Yamatodani is notorious for his anti-cult tactics; he delivers an anti-cult lecture in a for-credit course on Living Environment at Osaka University. He identified CARP members from the reports submitted by students and then interrogated them (see a previous installment).
Objectively speaking, the Anti-Cult Campus Network has a serious flaw as a college-collaborating organization. Its webmaster and its application address are the same: Kenji Kawashima, Laboratory on Religious Studies. Its web site has neither regulations nor a charter, implying that the Network is a voluntary, unregulated association set up jointly by like-minded scholars and lawyers.
Besides, its application is for individuals who "belong to departments or sections engaged in students' life counseling among full-time teaching personnel in national or private colleges across the country." But the list of participants pretends to be of the colleges rather than of individuals
Through what sort of decision-making process did each college join such a voluntary network? Who applied for the registration and in what capacity? Why do the colleges involved leave their names on the list? The colleges have not explained at all, though subjected to criticism on their dubious relations with the Campus Network.
How about another outside body that Prof. Kawashima applauds: the Japan Anti-Cult Association? Ignited by the Aum Shinrikyo incidents, the association was formed in November 1995 by a group of people including psychiatrists, pastors, lawyers, sociologists of religion, former “cult” members and concerned families to share information through symposiums and open seminars. Its current director of the board is Shingo Takahashi, medical professor at Toho University, while its individual members numbered about 170 (as of May 2008). Its web site is linked with many anti-cult online sites managed by college-life promotion bodies such as National Okayama University's Student Support Center and private Ryukoku College's Student Life Promotion.
In an open seminar conducted by the Japan Anti-Cult Association in November 2010 in Tokyo, speakers included Takimoto, Nishida and Kawashima, as well as Prof. Momoko Miyano of Chiba University. Prof. Miyano spoke for 40 minutes on cults, fiercely attacking the Unification Church and CARP by name (previous installment) Kawashima stated: "Anti-cult measures have entered a stage of rescue from that of prevention," implying more radical “CARP hunting” to come.
Noteworthy is the relationship between the Japan Anti-Cult Association and the National Anti-Cult Campus Network. Assoc. Prof. Nishida is the current board director of the Anti-Cult Association as well as a promoter of the Campus Network, while Takimoto is secretary general of the Anti-Cult Association and a promoter of the Campus Network. Thus, these two are twin campaign units committed to eliminating cults and “'rescuing” people from so-called cults, especially from the Unification Church.
Furthermore, some colleges have their official websites linked to a private web site run by Hidemasa Kawada, a prominent member of the National Coordinating Association against Spiritual Sales, which is committed to an anti-Unification Church campaign.
Such relationships are formed under the pretext of risk management of students' life with the tacit approval of the independent administrative body, Japan Student Support Organization, under the Ministry of Education. We should rigorously examine this ominous reality in which the public administration, off-campus organizations and dogmatic professors work in collusion to oppress minority new religions.
The National Anti-Cult Campus Network and the Japan Anti-Cult Association have acted like two ideological pillars in oppressing minority new religions, adopting ideas like “cult theory” or “mind control theory,” both of which have stirred controversy and criticism.
The term cult has been variously defined. Assoc. Prof. Nishida defines it as "a group whose members share strong beliefs and passionate activities under an official banner for social justice but actually pursuing their own interests by any means."
Lawyer Takimoto describes a cult as "a group which significantly reduces or eliminates its members' mental capacity and urges, leaving them open to succumb to its founder or peculiar ideas and to indulge themselves even in illegality (criminal, civil or administrative) for their own objectives."
However, what Nishida terms “share strong beliefs and passionate activities’” is a common attribute of any active religious, political or ideological organization. Suppose “their own interests” means expansion of the organization. That could also apply to any organization.
Takimoto's definition corresponds to a media-favored popular cult theory relying on “mind control.” How can he scientifically measure or prove that someone “remarkably reduces or eliminates its members' mental capacity or urges”? He did not clarify the frequency of “illegality,” which he termed an objective criterion of cult-ness.
This author once interviewed a world-renowned sociologist of religion, Dr. Eileen Barker, professor at the Social Science Faculty, London University. In response to my question "What is a cult?" the professor plainly stated:
"Though 'a cult' may be defined in many ways, academically speaking it is a value-neutral term specifying a new religion vis-à-vis an established one. But in a social context, the word is nothing but a negative label put on an distasteful religious phenomenon. This is a cause for concern, for it represents only a bad image without accurate information, leading to deeper confusion.”
On the other hand, “mind control” was described by an American psychologist Dr. Margaret Singer as "an action process which systematically manipulates influences and impact over potential members by engaging them in a manner that would effectively destroy their free will and judging capacity." This theory was adopted by such deprogrammers as Steve Hassan to justify their [former] practices [of kidnapping and confinement]. But it is impossible to scientifically measure that a person was deprived of free will. The theory was rejected by a number of American psychologists (in 1987) and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (in 1990). A court rejected Dr. Singer as an expert witness in the Fishman case.
Against this global backdrop, Prof. Nishida, a social psychologist employing the mind control theory, received numerous criticisms from scholars in religious studies and the sociology of religion who were familiar with those studies in the West. They denied the theory's relevance, leading to a judgment at the Nagoya District Court (1998).
Prof. Barker, mentioned above, was clear. "The mind control theory adopted research outcomes concerning prisoners who were physically restrained in order to explain what would happen to those who were not physically restrained. In a new religious movement, a one-way domination is unrealistic. As far as a religious environment is concerned, rather than somebody dominat[ing] others, in reality, everybody is influencing one another. The mind control theorists referred, like scientific expert statements, to either emotional statements which would not warrant counter-statements or contents that might be turned down through verification."
In fact, the mind control theory has been adopted by only a few scholars like Prof. Nishida, lawyers who have little to do with scientific arguments or anti-cult activists.
Supposedly the bastion of truth, the national universities rely on a claim that has never been legally acknowledged or academically established and indulge their institutions in academic harassment and oppressive measures against students involved in minority new religious associations with a view to maintaining their enrollment stability. Such practices should never be tolerated.
In concluding these articles on the persecution of CARP, here are some relevant clauses from international human rights regulations and the Japanese constitution.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Article 11.The people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental human rights. These fundamental human rights guaranteed to the people by this constitution shall be conferred upon the people of this and future generations as eternal and inviolate rights.
Article 14.All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
Article 19.Freedom of thought and conscience shall not be violated. Article 20.Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the state, nor exercise any political authority.