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Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements

N. I. (name withheld by request)

Confined: October 30, 1992-November 21, 1992

Faith-breakers: Parents

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT

[no date provided]

 

Profile

 

I was born in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, on May 5, 1968, as the daughter of my father Tadashi and my mother Yasuko. I have a younger brother, Jun.

 

In May 1989, I was recruited by a classmate in the vocational school I was attending, and I joined the Unification Church in July 1989. I belonged to the Ikebukuro Church then.

 

The process leading to religious kidnapping and confinement

 

On October 30, 1992, I had an appointment to meet my mother at the entrance gate of the Nippori train station in Arakawa-ku, Tokyo. There were many incidents of religious kidnapping and confinement of Unification Church members taking place around that time and I was uneasy about becoming a victim, so I asked Miss K, my co-worker in the church, to accompany me to the station. My mother was working at a pachinko parlor and she met me  in her uniform. My mother told me that she needed to change her clothes and asked me to accompany her. As a  result, my mother, Miss K and I  started walking to my mother’s work place. It was evening and raining, so the visibility was poor. Suddenly someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into a car. It happened so abruptly that by the time I had recovered I was already in the backseat of the car sandwiched between my mother and my younger brother. My father was driving.

 

Both of my arms were held firmly by my mother and brother. I was taken to a second-floor studio apartment near the Tachikawa train station. I was confined in that apartment for about three weeks, until November 21, 1992.

 

The studio apartment had special features that prevented me from escaping. The windows had embedded wires. The entrance door was locked with chains and could not be easily opened. Either my father alone or my mother and younger brother together watched me all the time so that I would not escape.

 

Forced conversion

 

Under confinement, my father and mother showed me weekly magazine articles that criticized the church, among other things, and asked me under what circumstances I would leave the church. For example, because my parents were divorced, they asked me whether I would leave the church if they came back together. Initially, I was so upset that they had confined me that I refused to answer any questions from them. However, as my confinement continued, it became increasingly difficult for me to bear the mental pain inflicted on me. I started thinking that I could pretend to leave the church in order to get out of the predicament I was in. When I told my parents, “I am contemplating whether  to quit the church,” they told me that they would bring a Christian minister to see me.

 

My parents might have felt relieved, thinking that I was contemplating  leaving the church, and their supervision over me subsequently became lax. There was an occasion when only my younger brother  was watching me, so I tried to escape when he dozed off. I walked to the entrance, quietly unchained the door and got out of the apartment I was confined in. Until I actually came outside, I had had absolutely no idea where I was. Using signs as a guide, I ran desperately to escape. Fortunately, I had some money, so I could get on a streetcar. Because I escaped before a minister came, I don’t know the name of the Christian minister involved in my kidnapping and confinement.

 

After my escape

I called my parents once after I returned to the church, but the answering machine was on so I could not talk to my parents directly. I only sent one letter by mail. Due to the shock of being kidnapped and confined, my resentment toward my parents and a nagging fear that I might be kidnapped again, I did not communicate with my parents for 16 years after the incident. Unable to discuss this matter with my parents or face them, I tried  to avoid them. Once I had started my own family and given birth to a child, I felt I had to communicate with them. But I could not make up my mind to do so.

 

In the spring of 2007, I sent a letter to my mother, but there was no reply. Subsequently, I suddenly received a year-end gift from my mother in 2008, so I tried to communicate with her. I found that my parents had moved and had sent me the year-end gift to inform me of their new contact information. In January 2009, I finally met my mother and engaged in a short conversation for the first time in 16 years. Also, I talked to my father at the end of January 2009, and after some exchanges of letters, all the members of my family could get together at the end of July 2009.

 

However, we still cannot talk deeply about the kidnapping and confinement. A 16-year period is such a long time, and the situation surrounding each of us has changed in many ways. We cannot easily fill the gap caused by the lack of communication for such a long period, so it takes time. I can never erase from my memory the mental pain inflicted on me by the kidnapping, confinement and forced conversion attempt. When I think about the fact that those activities are still repeated today, my heart is very heavy. It is my sincere hope that this problem is solved as soon as possible.

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