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Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements

 

H.H. (name withheld by request)

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 .

Confined: 1. October-December, 1985

2. October 18, 1994-January 9, 1995

Faith-breakers: Rev. Hisoka Murakami, Rev. Mamoru Takazawa and Rev. Atsuyoshi Ojima

WRITTEN STATEMENT

March 20, 1995

 

Summary

 

When I visited my parents' house in Tokushima (355-2 Ishii, Ishiiaza, Ishii-cho, Nanishi County, Tokushima Prefecture) with my husband and his parents on October 18, 1994, I was forcibly torn apart from my husband and abducted. I was then confined in the second floor of the Shimomura Furniture Store in Awajishima (273 Masuho Nishiji, Seidan-cho, Mihara County, Hyogo Prefecture) and Apartment #301 of Heights Nadaminami (3-18, 4-Chome, Nadaminami, Nada-ku) in Kobe-shi until January 9, 1995.

 

I was exhorted to abandon my Unification Church faith by Rev. Mamoru Takazawa of Kobe Shin Church and Rev. Atsuyoshi Ojima of the West Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church (Aotani Church) for 84 days, until I was liberated through an intervention by my husband and the police. The mental agony and pain caused by my deprivation of physical freedom during that period were difficult to bear.

 

Joining the church

 

I was introduced to the Divine Principle by Ms. Machiyo Kondo in Tokushima, in January 1983. Since its content gave me the answers to questions I had about the purpose of life and the cause of various problems and contradictions in the world, I joined the Unification Church in May 1983. I received the Blessing officiated by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in Seoul, South Korea, in 1992 and have been married to H.H. ever since.

 

Opposition from my parents

 

After I started my life of faith, I tried to gain understanding from my father Megumu and my mother Hiroko but they had perceptions that those who hold religious faith are weak and persons of leisure and did not listen to me.

 

In August and December 1984, my mother and my elder sister Yukiko visited me at the Hiroshima Church (5-3, Dobashi-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi). During their second visit, I was taken back to my parents' house by my father and my elder brother-in-law Kiyoshi by force; I escaped after my family members went to sleep at night.

 

First confinement

 

When I visited my parents' house to obtain my passport on October 18, 1985, I was confined in an apartment that had been prepared for a total of 56 days. During that time, Rev. Hisoka Murakami (Japan Assemblies of God Shichijo Church) visited the apartment twice and another Christian minister from the nearby United Church of Christ (UCC) visited once. On the 56th day, my mother forgot to lock the door, and I managed to escape.

 

Since I could not abandon my parents, I visited their house and had serious discussions with them for a few days in March 1990. However, I found materials and letters from people opposing the Unification Church at their house and realized that there still was a risk of abduction and confinement. As a result, while I was concerned about my parents, I limited my exchanges with them to communication through letters and telephone calls.

 

I received the Blessing in August 1992 and registered my marriage on September 8. My husband and his parents (Hiroshi and Fuku) visited my parents on October 2, but my father got angry about the fact that I did not come with them. My husband's parents asked my parents, "Please do not tear apart the two of them, who love each other," and my parents promised, "We will never confine her."

 

Abducted and confined

 

On October 18, 1992 I was accompanied by the three of them and together we visited my parents' house in Tokushima again. As soon as we entered the house through the front door, I was taken by my father to the back of the house by force. There were about 10 people in the back room. I shouted, "Help me!" But, my husband and his parents were also overpowered by several male strangers at that time. My hands and feet were bound with twine, my mouth gagged and my whole body wrapped in a cotton blanket, as I was carried into a van. What was happening did not register in my mind as reality, and time transpired as if I was having a terrifying dream.

 

When I arrived in the room, I was untied. They apparently had planned to put me in chains, but I did not go on a rampage so they decided not to do it. At that time, they confiscated my shoulder bag, which contained 60,000 yen in cash and some valuables. I found documents from the "Lost Youth" compensation trials [in which ex-UC members sued the church] in the room and the names Michiko Shimomura and Rummy were written in them. So I realized that I was in the Shimomura Furniture Store and the house of an ex-member.

 

I was repeatedly beaten by my mother, who yelled at me saying, "Do you know how much your elder sister suffered?" I saw insanity in her posture, and I felt as if I were being taken to a different dimension. I asked her, "Please let me see my husband. If I am with my husband, I will listen to any story," but my plea fell on deaf ears.

 

During the night of October 22, I was transferred to a condominium for confinement. Although I did not resist, my parents and elder sister bound my hands and feet and gagged me. My elder brother-in-law carried me and put me into a van. My parents, my elder sister and her husband, ex-members Hideaki Ito and Mr. and Mrs. Shimomura were in the van. The son of Rev. Mamoru Takazawa  drove the van. Later on, Rev. Takazawa said, "I use my son in important cases which must not fail."

 

When I was put into the apartment, my mother apparently felt sorry about keeping me gagged because I was not resisting and tried to remove the gag. Then my father got angry and shouted, "If it fails again, I will stab all of you to death!" My heart was in my mouth. During that night, my father and my mother were summoned by Rev. Takazawa to Kobe Shin Church and were chastised about the gag, according to what I was told.

 

The apartment had two bedrooms and one dining room/kitchen. The windows were made with hardened glass, and a plastic board was installed on  top of it with  thick tape. Then each window lock was coiled with thick wire, and the curtains were drawn on all the windows. The peephole on the front door was covered with a piece of paper to prevent light from seeping out.

 

The door appeared to have two padlocks fastened with chains in addition to a regular lock, and there was a chain lock on top of them. But the lock area was always covered with a towel and the lock structure was not clearly seen. My father had the keys to the padlocks. The dinnerware in the kitchen was all made of plastic, and my mother and elder sister controlled the kitchen knives. There were no  spoons or forks.

 

Forced conversion

 

On the second day of my confinement, Rev. Mamoru Takazawa visited me with Mrs. Hatta, the mother of an ex-member. He said to me, "I am not going to say 'Nice to meet you.' That is because I have been chasing after you since three years ago. I came here to talk with you today," and he wrote "hanashi-ai (discussion about love)" on a piece of white paper with a red pencil.

 

I couldn't stand even to look at the minister's face but reluctantly engaged in the following conversation.

 

I: "Please let me meet my husband."

 

Minister: "Why do you talk about your husband? You think the Divine Principle is more important, don't you?"

 

I: "Love is greater than the Principle."

 

Minister: "Why do you talk about loving him? I don't want to hear such nonsense. Why don't you study the Principle hard? You are a family member, aren't you?"

 

I: "My parents told me that if I listen to you, I will be allowed to see my husband. I will listen to you, so please promise me to let me see my husband."

 

Minister: "I can't make any promise with the Principle [people]."

 

I felt sad because what I was saying was being completely ignored, and I looked down. Then, the minister told me, "The Principle [people] always do that. When your thoughts are not listened to, you cry, act up, or keep silent. Isn't your religion a religion of love? Hey, sit up straight!"

 

The next day, the minister showed me the key to the front door, and told me, "This is not just a key; it represents the love of your parents. This glittering chain is shining with the tears of your parents. Do you know how much your parents have cried?" I said, "Because I have made my parents feel lonely, I wanted to be filial to my parents. That is why I came to visit them with my husband and his parents." Then, the minister said, "How can you be filial to your parents when you practice the wrong Principle. Your parents would not be happy at all even if you did it for 10 years." He then asked my father, "Isn't that true, Father?" My father meekly replied, "Yes."

 

I brought up the issue of my shoulder bag, and said, "This  amounts to  theft." Then, the minister got excited, and said, "Theft? What are you talking about? That is something an ordinary person says. If things are taken from the Principle, it does not constitute an offense," which is an unbelievably self-centered statement. Nevertheless, my parents and my elder sister nodded in agreement.

 

Starting that day, I was subjected to various accusations and criticism against the Unification Church. When I said something in rebuttal, he countered with fierce verbal abuse. He called my name without an honorific and uttered insulting words. It was akin to extortion and was far from a discussion, as he had said it would be at the outset.

 

After one week, I came to the realization that I would never be released through arguments and started thinking that there was no other way but to pretend that I had left the church. Because I finally started listening to him quietly, Rev. Takazawa started talking about various things beside his accusations and criticisms against the church.

 

According to him, when my husband and his parents visited Tokushima, he gathered about 20 people and prepared ahead of time, assuming that I would be coming with them. He explained that when he became a Christian minister and was assigned to Kobe, he had few church members and had difficulty in his church operations , but he has been able to stay in business since he started doing  forced conversions of Unification Church members. He also told me that multiple Christian ministers were involved in the abduction and confinement of former Olympic gymnast Hiroko Yamazaki; he was asked to appear on a TV program but he declined because he would not be able to continue his forced conversion activities once his face became known; and when a confinement place is uncovered by someone in the Unification Church, he relocates the confinement place. When relocating, he transports a decoy wrapped up in a blanket first and then transports the real confined person following that.

 

Starting in the middle of November, former Unification Church members Hatta and Akagi, Assistant Pastor Suzuki of Shin Church, and opposing parents such as Mr. and Mrs. Noda, Mr. and Mrs. Shimomura, Mr. and Mrs. Hatta, and other parents who were preparing to confine their children came to the apartment to check whether  my conversion was true or not. Mr. and Mrs. Shimomura apparently reported to Rev. Takazawa that I was still pretending, but the minister seemed to believe that my conversion was real. The minister said, "In case of long time Unification Church members like you, it will be enough for me to handle alone. But to make sure, I will ask Rev. Ojima to get involved."

 

After Rev. Ojima started coming, Rev. Takazawa stopped coming every day. However, when he did come, he started quarrels with my father. When my father got angry at Rev. Takazawa for his advice about our domestic affairs, Rev. Takazawa shouted, "Because she has such a stubborn and unreasonable father, your daughter goes to the Principle [people]." Also, in his reaction to an offer of abduction and forced conversion of my husband, my father attacked him, saying, "If you push us to go that far, I will not ask you anymore!" Rev. Takazawa then responded, "That's not the way I understood it. You have to let me handle this case. I have waited to handle this person (me) for three years." Then he turned to me and stared at me with a fierce look on his face, saying, "If your conversion is false, I will come to you and stab you with a knife!"

 

In December, my elder sister returned home, and a former Unification Church member called Mr. Ito came as her replacement to monitor me. My parents declined his help, saying they could not pay the required 5,000 yen per day. Then the minister said, "There is no other work available around this time approaching the end of the year. Please consider his situation, too. He is from a single-parent family."

 

Toward the end of the year, the minister started talking about how to convert my husband. It is certain that my husband was searching for me, so I was told that "This place might be discovered and the police might come here. If that happens, tell them that you are having discussions with your parents." However, his plan was foiled, and I was liberated through an intervention by my husband and the police after 84 days.

 

Conclusion

 

According to the minister, there are three budget options for forced conversion. These are

 

1) a one-million-yen course (limited to exposing the target to anti-Unification Church talks),

2) a five-million-yen course (planting doubts about the Divine Principle and confusion in the target's mind and converting him if possible),

3) a 10-million-yen course (converting and rehabilitating the target, including finding a new job).

 

Although the ministers claim that what they are doing is for the parents, it is really  contract work for business. I was surprised by the large amount of compensation, too.

 

Based on my experience of abduction and confinement, the method is quite thorough and there is absolutely no possible way to arrange it by the family alone. There is no doubt in my mind that my parents' concrete words and actions as well as method of abduction, preparation of the confinement place and arranging the large amount of money to be borrowed were all guided by Rev. Takazawa.

 

He also arranged to have the converted people join his own church, making them assist in abductions and confinements, even as a job (like Mr. Ito's case), or made some of them  be plaintiffs in court cases against the Unification Church. When I see such things, I can only come to one conclusion: Rev. Takazawa is taking advantage of Unification Church members and their parents and family members to achieve his personal aim and increase the membership of his own church.

 

It is an illegal act to abduct, confine and forcibly convert Unification Church members who genuinely try to live and practice their faith in the church. It is a violation of their personality and human rights.

 

It is my sincere wish that no more church members be victimized or subjected to the unbearable experience I was recently subjected to.