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Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements

 

Y. N. (name withheld by request)

Confined: February 2, 1991-February 14, 1991

May 17, 1992-June 19, 1992

Faith-breaker: Rev. Ester Pak (Harue Oki)

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT

[no date given]

Profile

 

I was born in Mito, Ibaragi prefecture, on January 2, 1967, as the eldest son of my father Yoshio and my mother Setsuko. In April 1985, I entered the Physical Education Department of Juntendo University and graduated in March 1988. In April 1988, I started working for the Chiba Sportsman Club.

 

My siblings are my younger sister Fumiko (who has since married and lives in France) and my younger brother Toshihiro (who lives in Mito).

 

When I returned to my hometown for spring break during my sophomore year at Juntendo University in February 1987, I was approached by Mr. Masaru Toyoda (currently affiliated with Matsuyama Church in Aichi prefecture) and came in contact with the Unification Church. In January 1988, I joined the church and became affiliated with the Chiba Church.

 

First kidnapping and confinement

On February 2, 1991, my sister who is two years younger than me was about to go abroad for study. I decided to celebrate her overseas education and buy a gift for her as her elder brother. Thus I decided to meet her. When I arrived at the meeting place in Ueno, my mother was with her. The three of us decided to dine at a restaurant. My sister said she knew a good restaurant and suggested we take a taxi cab. A taxi cab happened to be right there and I got in. As soon as I sat down on the rear seat, people got in the cab from both sides. I was kidnapped and taken immediately to a place of confinement. The taxi driver was collaborating. He was the parent of a former Unification Church member and actually drove a taxi cab for a living. I think my uncle  was also in the cab.

 

The place of my confinement was an apartment on the seventh floor of a condo building near Komae Station of the Odakyu Electric Railway. When we arrived there, more than 10 people were waiting for us. While I was taken from the lobby to the apartment, four to five people guarded me. My parents, younger sister and brother, uncle, my father’s acquaintance and others stayed in the apartment and watched me. Those who were involved in my kidnapping and confinement included Rev. Ester Pak (whose Japanese name is Harue Oki) of Hosanna Gospel Christian Church and dozens of former Unification Church members.

 

With regard to the process through which my parents got connected to Rev. Pak, my parents initially visited a Christian church near their house in Mito for a consultation. The pastor of the church happened to be involved in anti-Unification Church activities, and he apparently introduced Rev. Pak to my parents. My parents deeply trusted Rev. Pak, consulted with her on the progress of my exit-counseling and received her guidance about what to do. It is obvious that Rev. Pak was giving instructions about my confinement. It was Rev. Pak who made the determination that the exit counseling was successful, decided to end my confinement and conveyed her decision to my parents, which I overheard. My mother believed Rev. Pak’s claim that “I was possessed by  evil spirits” and respected her.

 

The front entrance was locked with layers of locks and people were standing by in the room near the entrance. My father always kept the keys. Even during the night, they took turns watching me, and when I went to the bathroom one of them accompanied me. The windows were locked and it was not possible to get out through them.

 

Rev. Pak used the contents of the Bible to criticize the Unification Church’s teachings and pressured me to leave the church. Former Unification Church members held study meetings to emphasize mistakes in the Divine Principle and had me attend them. Rev. Pak visited me almost every day. This kind of situation continued. My parents and relatives refused to listen to my side of the story and were determined to continue the confinement until I left the church. As the result, I thought I had no choice but to pretend to have left the church, and I decided to make them believe that I had accepted their arguments.

 

Escape

 

I gained their trust by writing a note to express my decision to leave the church. I was told to attend the Hosanna Church service by Rev. Pak on Sunday, February 14. Thus I could go out of the apartment after a while. After Sunday service, my father was content and went back home. I was left with my mother, so I found a chance and escaped. During my escape, I went down the stairs running and took a taxi cab. I had been kept in a room for a long time so my leg muscles had weakened. When I got in the taxi cab, I collapsed on the seat and could not get up for a while. When the taxi cab stopped at a railroad crossing I felt extremely nervous because of the fear that someone might chase after me, and I felt as if my heart would stop. I went to Yachiyo, Chiba Prefecture, where there was a church center. Since I did not have any cash on me, I asked someone at the church center to pay the taxi fare. I was subsequently transferred to another church center in Chiba and engaged in housekeeping work. I tried not to go out as much as possible.

 

For some time after I returned to the church, I feared going out. I continued living in fear that passersby might be watching me. About six months after my escape, I finally came to feel calm.

 

Second confinement and escape

 

After my first confinement, I repeated the pattern of visiting my parents suddenly without telling them in advance and leaving after a few hours. I decided to stay overnight at my parents’ house on May 17, 1992. But my parents apparently contacted  Rev. Pak as soon as they knew that I would be staying over. I was kidnapped in front of my parents’ house that night. My father told me, “Let’s go out for a short walk,” and he and I went outside. My father then grabbed the back portion of my belt. More than 10 people jumped on me at once and I was captured. They held my arms and legs and carried me into my cousin’s minivan. They tied my hands and feet. Those who were involved in my kidnapping at that time were strangers except for my father and cousin. I was immediately taken to Tokyo and confined in an apartment on the fourth floor of a condo building in Komae, Setagaya-ku.

 

On the way to the apartment, I made up my mind to escape again by using a similar tactic as before. They were more cautious because it was the second time, but I pretended to listen to their exit counseling and lectures. I subsequently wrote a note to express my decision to leave the church and made arrangements to have my luggage sent to me. In my letter to the church, I wrote a fictitious location of my whereabouts so that when the church searched for me they would know I had not left the church. Thus I tried to buy time. Even after I wrote the note that expressed my decision to leave the church, I was continuously under watch, to my irritation. On June 19, when I was being watched by five women, I escaped. Those who were watching me at that time were all former Unification Church members.

 

My escape was carried out when all of us were going to the Christian church by subway to hear the sermon. Actually, their control over me was loose enough that I could have escaped for the  previous few days. But since I did not have any cash with me, I did not have enough courage to attempt my escape. When it was decided we would take the subway, my mother handed me some cash. Those who were watching me paid my subway fare so I could keep the cash. I made up my mind to escape. On the way back after the church service, those who were watching me turned their back  to purchase their subway tickets at Shinjuku Station. At that moment, I escaped by running and taking a taxi cab. In my previous escape, the taxi fare was about 20,000 yen. So I took the taxi only to the next subway station and returned to the church by subway, although I had some fear. After I returned to the church, I asked the church to transfer me to another location. I stayed inside without going out for quite a while.

 

Conclusion

 

Rev. Pak had a close relationship with Teruko Honma. I also met Honma once. During my second confinement, when I went to Hosanna Church,  Honma was there to see Rev. Pak and was talking to her. Rev. Pak was converted to Christianity after 24 years of Buddhist faith. When she came to Japan, she was assisted by the Moriyama Eiko Church. At that time, Hosanna Church had about 90 members, about 95 percent of whom were former Unification Church members and their parents. The reality is she increased her church membership through religious kidnapping and confinement activities and earned her livelihood that way. I still don’t know how much money my parents paid Rev. Pak. I strongly appeal to Christian ministers to respect religious freedom and basic human rights.

 

Although the victim's name has been withheld, qualified researchers may confirm his/her identity by contacting us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .