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In 1987, deprogramming operations were frequent, influenced by mass media reports. In May 1987, my brother was kidnapped, confined and forced into the deprogramming process when he was on his way to visit our parents.
My brother told me that his father met him on the way to his home. My brother thought, “It’s very unusual for my father to welcome me on the way home.” As soon as my father’s hand touched my brother, father shouted “Now!” Then strangers suddenly jumped out from a hiding place, attacked him and pushed him into a waiting van.
When the van stopped at a train crossing, my brother jumped out a window. Then he scuffled with father and his supporters. Someone reported this to the police, and they were all taken to the police station. Though my brother claimed that he was being kidnapped and asked desperately for help from the police, the police listened to his father and he was taken to the confinement site in the van.
One of the deprogrammers of my brother was Takashi Miyamura, who is a managing director of an advertising company called Tap Co. Ltd. Later Miyamura was involved in my second kidnapping and confinement. At that time Miyamura coordinated with a Christian minister, Satoshi Moriyama of Jesus Christ Church of Japan in Ogikubo, and the Ogikubo church became their base. They were asked by some parents to break their children’s faith in the Unification Church.
Some parents were on a waiting list. During the waiting period, the parents were trained in the methods of kidnapping, confinement and breaking faith. Miyamura organized a parents’ group called Suikei Kai. In the Suikei Kai, there was a system that the parents who had been successful in deprogramming their children helped the parents whose turn it was in kidnapping and taking children to the confinement room near the Okikubo Eiko Church. Then Miyamura visited the confinement site for the purpose of deprogramming them. Later, I had a chance to look at the list, and I saw many parents’ names. I heard that the waiting list contains a few hundred names.
After my brother left the church, he became a supporter of Miyamura in deprogramming church members. He was employed by Tap Co. Ltd. and became Miyamura’s assistant. My parents’ request to deprogram me was almost at the far end of the list. My brother later told me that the turn for my deprogramming was moved up in the queue because he had supported Miyamura’s deprogramming with such enthusiasm.
At that time, I worried so much about my brother and I couldn’t even sleep at night when he went missing. I looked for him everywhere I could, from home to a Christian church where I was told my brother stayed, but I couldn’t find him.
In October 1987, my father contacted me and said my brother wanted to see me. He told me to come to Shinjuku. I worried that I would be kidnapped, so two male Unification Church members came with me. I followed my father to the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. I got on an elevator, but the two men with me became separated. I was taken to a room on a higher floor. My brother was waiting, and said, “I’ve decided to leave the church. I want you to learn what I learned.”
I noticed that some work was done on the door of the room, so the door would not open from inside. Therefore I couldn’t go out to the hallway. The hotel suite had two adjacent rooms connected by a door. The entrance and exit was through the next room. Of course the purpose of this arrangement was to prevent me from escaping. It was very shocking for me that my brother called me to the hotel to confine and deprogram me.
Soon after, Takashi Miyamura visited the room, accompanying former Unification Church (UC) members. In one instance, Miyamura asked one of his men, “What is the existence of Sun Myung Moon for you?” The man replied, “Like this” pointing at the cigarette butts that Miyamura, a heavy smoker, had left in the ashtray. I can’t forget the sense of humiliation when the man ridiculed me by saying this. The man’s face was filled with insult. I was furious about the deceptive confinement, and I locked myself in the toilet and shouted, “Get me out of here! Help!” The door was opened from outside, and I got dragged out of the toilet. I scuffled with my father and brother, but I was outnumbered and they overpowered me.
While I was forced to listen to their criticisms against the church or church doctrine by Miyamaura and the former UC members, I got the urge to break the window by throwing a chair. I lifted a chair up, but I stopped short of doing it as I thought it might hit apasserby. As I was forced to listen to the defamation of the church and its founder, I experienced unbearable pain. After a few days, I thought I would not be able to get out if I kept the faith. I pretended to abandon my faith against my will.
About a week later, I was taken to an apartment in Ogikubo, Sugunami-ku, from the Keio Plaza Hotel. I was confined in the apartment for almost a month. I had to attend the church service at the Ogikubo Eiko Chruch under the constant supervision of my parents and brother. Also I was forced to visit the nearby apartment where a UC church member was confined for deprogramming.
I wanted to help the church member in front of me who was suffering from the ongoing deprogramming process under the forceful confinement. But I had to give up my intention because I thought I would have to go through more relentless confinement and deprogramming if my pretension to leave the church were discovered.
Many former UC members who had left the church as a result of deprogramming by Miyamura and Moriyama attended the meetings at the Ogikubo Eiko Church. Some members among them were actively supporting Miyamura’s deprogramming operations, like my brother. At one time, I was forced to attend the Suikei Kai meeting held at a house just opposite the Ogikubo Eiko Church, and I witnessed Miyamura instructing parents on how kidnapping and confinement could help get their children out of the group.
In April of that year, I had entered a company as a newly graduated employee and been assigned to a construction site in Funabashi, Chiba, as a site supervisor. But as I was kidnapped all of sudden, I could not contact the company. I was not allowed to contact the company during the confinement and I was under constant scrutiny. I was forced to be absent from work for many weeks, and I felt pain to cause my company trouble.
Toward the end of November 1987, I was looking for a chance to escape. When I attended the Sunday service at the Ogikubo Eiko Church, I ran away from the church building by pretending to go the toilet and escaped to the Unification Church center.
After Escape from First Confinement
I was scared of another kidnapping attempt by my family after I returned to the center. I asked the church to transfer me to another department from the original department, which my brother knew. I assumed the name “Yuuji Suzuki” and could not tell my family where I was; I was in hiding. Whenever I saw a van sitting on the street, I was extremely fearful that someone might jump out from a hiding place, attack me and take me to the van.
In fact, at that time, many Unification Church members were reported missing all of a sudden. During the three years from 1990 to 1992, 941 members went missing. Of those, 233 members returned to the church. According to a survey of the 233 members, they were kidnapped and confined against their will in an attempt to break their faith. In 1992, only one year, there were 375 missing members. On average, more than one member was kidnapped and confined daily.
I thought, “Why do I have to be frightened like a medieval witch hunt in modern Japan, which guarantees religious freedom?” While I lamented the situation, I had no relaxed time, fearing “I may be kidnapped today.”
I wished to go back to work for the company I had joined in the spring. But if I went back to work, my family would know where I was. I couldn’t go back to work because of the fear that I might be kidnapped again. I had no other choice than to resign from the company, and I was involved in church work such as witnessing or educational activities in the church community.
I worried about my sister at that time, as my brother and I were kidnapped in a row. And the worry came true. At the beginning of 1989, my sister was kidnapped and left the church. I was stung with remorse for a while after that because I could not protect her from coercive faith breaking.
My brother joined the anti–Unification Church movement that Miyamura organized after he left the church. He filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court against the Unification Church, the so-called lost youth case in 1991.
In August, I attended a church wedding ceremony of 30,000 couples held in Seoul, South Korea, with a lady (Goto’s first fiancée) follower of the Unification Church. The wedding ceremony is the ceremony where we pledge that we will build a peaceful family with an eternal partner, and of course it’s my desire. But my fiancée left the church after she went through a coercive faith-breaking process done by her family.
Many months had passed since my first kidnapping/confinement. I was cautious to avoid the chance of a second kidnapping, but I thought things would remain unsettled. I started to talk with my family over the phone, sent letters to them and gave presents on their birthdays. Around 1992, my father told me on the phone, “I won’t do such a thing again.” He promised not to do it again. Then I let him know where I was, and I was able to communicate with my family members while they continued to oppose my faith in the Unification Church.
My brother married a woman in January 1995. His wife was a former Unification Church member who was kidnapped and confined by her family members, then deprogrammed by Miyamura and Yasutomo Matsunaga (a Christian minister of Niitsu Church, Japan Alliance Christ Church). After she left the UC, she became involved with anti–Unification Church activities, and she lodged a “lost youth” lawsuit at Niigata District Court in 1991.
I attended the 360,000 couples wedding ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, with my second fiancée. I had turned 31 years old in August 1995. I was thinking of quitting church work while keeping the faith of Unification Church and finding a job to prepare for married life and for the future. However, I was kidnapped and confined again in September 1995, so I could not find a job, and I could not start married life with my fiancée.