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Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements

 

Hirohisa Koide

 

Confined: June 13, 1992-May 29, 1994

Faith-breakers: Takashi Miyamura, Rev. Yasutomo Matsunaga

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT

 

October 1, 1996

 

Profile

 

I was born in 1962 in Tokyo as the first son of the Koide family. I lived in Warabi City, Saitama Prefecture, attended Urawa Prefectural High School and entered Jichi Medical University.

 

 

On September 5, 1983, in my third year at the university, I was introduced to members of the Unification Church (UC) through a friend. I studied the Divine Principle and resonated with its idea of creating ideal families based on completing one’s character in order to realize an ideal society. Subsequently, I joined the church.

 

Parents meet anti-Unification individuals

 

Around 1984, my parents visited the late Rev. Satoshi Moriyama, well-known as an anti-Unificationist, at the Ogikubo Eikou Church of the United Church of Christ in Japan and met with Mr. Takashi Miyamura. Both of them urged parents and relatives of UC members to take part in “study groups.” Miyamura was an anti-UC activist who directed forced conversions through abduction and confinement. He used to make rounds of the [various] confinement sites.

 

My parents took part in the study groups every Saturday, but after a while my father stopped attending, and then my mother followed suit. Miyamura called my mother to come to a hotel in Shinjuku, in central Tokyo. With him was former assistant professor K, who used to be an advisor for a student club I belonged to at the university. Under the direction of Miyamura, Mr. K had locked up his son who was a UC member and had forced him to leave the church. My mother, persuaded by both of them, became determined to forcibly convert me and resumed attending the study groups, together with my father, elder sister and younger brother. They became closer to Miyamura and former church members.

 

In the study groups, Miyamura used those who had left the UC through abduction and confinement to testify that the Unification Church was an anti-social organization and that their children were leading miserable lives in the church. The parents who were made to believe seriously that their children were in an evil, criminal organization were driven to a mental state in which they feel that their sons and daughters must quit the church at all costs and by any means possible.

 

In this way, my parents were trained to become perpetrators of my abduction and confinement. By 1991, my mother had started to request help from relatives and friends for my forced conversion.

 

 

Abduction and confinement in Tokyo

 

On June 13, 1992, I was working as a doctor at Isshin Hospital in Otsuka, Tokyo. I was seeing on average about 35 outpatients daily and was in charge of about 15 inpatients. About 8:00 pm that evening, I returned to my parents’ home in Warabi City at my mother’s request. Curiously, my younger brother had brought a friend with him.

 

Shortly, nearly 20 relatives abruptly came in and made me sit in the back room, surrounding me. My father said, “Hirohisa! As your parents, siblings and relatives, we cannot allow you to take part in and work in a criminal organization called the Unification Church. Let’s all discuss this frankly and carefully in another place we’ve prepared.”

 

The atmosphere of the room was so strange that I refused and tried to leave. Immediately, my male relatives jumped on me, carried me out of the house and pushed me into a station wagon parked outside. I yelled, “Help! I’m being killed!” fighting back as hard as I could, all in vain.

 

Waiting at the entrance of the apartment where the car stopped were over 10 young men and women unknown to me. I was carried into a room, and when I saw a relative using a chain to lock the door, I realized that I was being locked up. Then, a middle-aged man and five or six men and women of about 20-30 years of age came into the room. The middle-aged man who reeked of smoke was Miyamura, and among the young people were former followers such as Toshie Kikuchi and Yoko Takahashi, who had turned into plaintiffs in the “Return My Youth” court cases in Tokyo. Enraged, I protested repeatedly, “Please stop your violent religious persecution, ignoring basic human rights!” My father yelled back at me, saying, “People in the UC have no right to speak about human rights!”

 

Standing in front of me, Miyamura opened his mouth to say, “We will not stop!” But he quickly corrected his words, saying,“No, we haven’t [ignored human rights].” “It’s strange for a UC member to refer to the constitution now,” he said.

 

I frantically appealed to my family and relatives several times, “I’m a doctor with many patients. I have to get back to the hospital!” They had little understanding of my job as a doctor, and I was outraged by Miyamura and others who were directing this crime, forcing me to abandon my responsibilities. At this point, there seemed to be some relatives who wondered if I should be held this way.

 

Among my patients, I was especially concerned about a male patient with terminal cancer. In his 80s, he had a malignant tumor with pleural effusion and breathing difficulty. Around the time I was abducted, I had inserted a chest tube to inject anti-cancer drugs and was just starting to discuss with his family how to explain this to him. Thinking about him, I could not sleep at night.

 

About a week after my confinement, a lawyer by the name of Hiroshi Hirata accompanied Miyamura. Though the lawyer noticed a chain lock around the doorknob and the windows tightly fixed so they could not be opened, obviously an illegal confinement situation, he assured my family by saying that “this is not considered illegal.” I fell into desperation, realizing that the lawyer was involved.

 

Late at night on July 12, I was woken up and told to move. That day, a writ of habeas corpus submitted by Isshin Hospital was recognized by the Tokyo High Court, and a summons had been delivered to the mailbox of the apartment. Notified of this, Miyamura decided to change the place of confinement in order to ignore the court summons. Rev. Yasutomo Matsunaga arranged my late-night transfer to another apartment in Niigata Prefecture. A year and a half later, my parents showed me this document.

 

During the relocation, some UC members, in an attempt to rescue me, had a scuffle with those former members who were taking me to Niigata. Even the police came to the scene, but for some reason, the Ogikubo Police did not take this up as a case to be reported. I learned this fact after escaping from confinement. This shows the degree to which a habeas corpus is not recognized in Japan.

 

Moving around

 

About 5:30 am of July 13, I was put into an apartment in Bandai in Niigata City. Similar to the circumstances in Tokyo, the door and windows were locked with chains, cutting me off from the outside world. From the following day, Rev. Yasutomo Matsunaga of the Niitsu Evangelical Church and four to five former UC members began their brainwashing efforts, claiming that the Unification Church is evil. Late at night on August 13, I was moved to a business hotel in Kashiwazaki City. Then again in the evening of August 24, I was relocated to a two-story apartment building in Joetsu City. Every day, the former members came and repeated their brainwashing tactics.

 

Feigned conversion

 

In mid-October 1992, I decided to act as if I had been converted. I felt that it was of no use to talk with them anymore. For the next four months, I spoke and took action unwillingly, against my true heart. I listened obediently to what the minister, former members and my parents said. At the end of October, Miyamura came from Tokyo, and I nodded agreeably to everything he said. It seemed that was the only way left for me.

 

Rev. Matsunaga specified what I should do. First, I was to write a statement [indicating my decision] to leave the church. Then, there was a sheet for me to fill in the names of members I knew, churches they belonged to and their addresses. This was like a loyalty test,and I acted out my conversion carefully so that Rev. Matsunaga would be convinced. I wrote a letter of resignation to Isshin Hospital and a resignation letter to the UC. These were sent out in January. However, by December, I was not yet allowed to go outside. Frustrated, I lost my temper and punched a hole in the bathroom wall. Due to this, my release was delayed further. The New Year’s holidays of 1993 were spent in this apartment in Jouetsu City, watching rugby on TV.

 

Confinement in Niitsu City

 

In mid-January, late at night, I was moved to the biggest apartment complex in Niitsu City, a room on the fifth floor of Royal Corp. In mid-February, I confided to my mother that “I still believe in the Unification Principle.” This was conveyed right away to my father, Matsunaga, Miyamura and others.

 

Matsunaga and Miyamura stopped coming for a while, but they were in touch with my parents, who suddenly informed me that they would like to listen to DP lectures. I gave the lectures for about 50 days, starting in mid-March, and coming close to the end, my father who was sleeping next to me, started to say, “Hirohisa, can you die? We cannot let you leave alive, as you have found out too much about Mr. Miyamura and Rev. Matsunaga.”

 

The following day, when we got into a heated argument, I saw the fierce look on my father’s face. He held me down, and I decided to confess that “I have realized that the DP is wrong.” From the next day, Rev. Matsunaga and former members started to visit me once again.

 

In late June, we moved to the mountain retreat of Sasagami Village, Shinkouji Temple, about a 50-minute ride from Niitsu City. The owner of the house had forced his niece to leave the Unification Church. Since then, he was actively assisting the forced conversion activities. In early July, Miyamura introduced me to Mr. Yoshifu Arita, an anti-Unificationist journalist and a reporter of the weekly Bunshun. I could not refuse the interview, and at times had to agree to the story that Arita was creating, having no choice but to bend the facts. After the interview, Mr. Arita said, “I’m impressed by how you endured, being locked up for a year!”

 

Rehabilitation’ period

 

On August 31,1993, I was moved to apartment No. 505 in the Nakayama Mansion in Niitsu City. On September 5, Miyamura set up a meeting with a TV director, Ms. Mari Ujiie of Tokyo Broadcasting Corporation (TBS). After the meeting, there was a TV shoot at a riverbed of the Shinano River. The interview was broadcast nationwide as part of TBS’s main news program. Its content was devoted to criticism of the Unification Church and Isshin Hospital.

 

I was taken to Rev. Matsunaga’s Niitsu Evangelical Church on the evening of September 28. From that day on, I had to commute [with his parents] to this church from apartment 505, for “rehabilitation.” Special rehabilitation homes and lodgings are prepared after being released from confinement, where you could not step outside at all. In my case, room 505 became my lodging, and I always travelled together with my parents. I believe the reason for this was that they were afraid of being served another habeas corpus by Isshin Hospital.

 

In the church, I spent most mornings studying on my own. Around noon, five to six people who had been sleeping in the morning came and had lunch with Rev. Matsunaga. After a chat, they would decide on their schedule and roles for the day, looking at a list of confined members posted on the wall. Here, of course, the term protective custody was used rather than confinement. Rehabilitation included virtually obligatory visits to other confinement sites with them, rather than studying the Bible.

 

Arbitration with Isshin Hospital and the Unification Church

 

On October 23, my parents and I met with two attorneys, Hiroshi Yamaguchi and Masaki Kito, both belonging to a lawyers’ association to counter what they called “the spiritual sales tactics” nationally, at the Niigata Joint Law Office in Hakusan, Niigata City. Mr. Yamaguchi asked what was to be the goal of negotiation. My father replied, “I would like them to promise that they will not contact my son anymore.” I pretended to agree and wrote a letter that went, against my intent, to the hospital director, and then I was asked to draw an organization chart related to Isshin Hospital.

 

However, my life of commuting to the Niitsu Church with an escort still did not change. It was unbearable for me to confront the Isshin Hospital through lawyers. Thus, I slipped away to call the hospital from Niitsu Church, saying, “Please tell the director, I still have my faith!” Perhaps because of that, Isshin Hospital rejected all the demands of the two lawyers, and the following April, my case was referred to arbitration. The reason given was that I had not been paid wages properly for the two years when I worked at the hospital. I had actually been paid so this was an unreasonable demand, but on May 17, my parents, Mr. Kito and I attended the first arbitration session, held at the Toshima Summary Court.

 

Release from confinement

 

In April 1994, I started working, against my will, at the Workers’ Medical Association Shimogoe Hospital, which is purportedly under the Communist Party, in Niitsu City, through an introduction by a former member’s father.

 

On the other hand, the mental pressure of the arbitration with Isshin Hospital was greater than I had imagined. I was suffering from nightmares every night and unable to stand it any longer. I looked for a chance to escape. In the afternoon of May 29, my parents went to attend a two day seminar held by an anti-UC group. I decided, “Now is my only chance!” Taking only my driver’s license and bank book, I left the Niigata Station for Tokyo, where I could meet with Isshin Hospital’s director, Kousaki. She just held my hands, weeping profusely. She reassured me about my TV appearance, saying, “I put my trust in you, thinking there had to be some reason.”

 

The following day, I called the Niigata Hospital where I had started to work and sent in a resignation letter. I also spoke with my parents over the phone. I notified the court that I would withdraw the arbitration request with Isshin Hospital, and sent notice to the two lawyers, Yamaguchi and Kito, that they were relieved of their duties.

 

I wished to resume my job at Isshin Hospital right away. But, there was still a possibility that anti-UC ministers and professional deprogrammers would kidnap me. I decided to take some time to write about all that had happened during the two-year experience of abduction and confinement.

 

Conclusion

 

Among the Christian ministers in Japan, there are some who how very little respect for laws and human rights. They seem to believe that “to people with the wrong faith, we should employ any means available to correct them.” Furthermore, from my own experiences with the court, lawyers and the police, I observed a shallow or even distorted sense of human rights among them. As for leaders of the mass media, I feel that they don’t perceive people as human beings.

 

Such a distorted mentality or systems exist in Japan that they tolerate people in power being unjust toward the weak. They have come, as a result, to neglect members of religious minorities, such as the Unification Church, who are being abducted and confined by their parents and relatives. Such a way of thinking as well as systems that enable it should be fundamentally corrected.

 

Lawmakers and law enforcers, the media, Christian groups and the general public should all understand the whole picture of this incident. They should reflect on it and carry out the necessary legal reforms. I believe that the state also has a responsibility to make reparations to those who have been confined.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2011 01:08