Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements
A. K. (name withheld by request)
Confined: March 1992
Faith-breaker: Mr. Koide (Tenrikyo church)
I was born on July 5, 1967, in Taki-Gun, Mie prefecture, as the second son of my father Nobuaki and my mother Yasuko. I entered Meijo University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Transportation Engineering in 1986. When I was a junior, during my summer vacation, a student member of the Unification Church introduced me to the Divine Principle and I began my study of it. In March 1990, I graduated from the university. In April, I began working for KYB Co, Ltd. I worked there for a year and half. In September 1991, I quit the job and began working in the church as a full-time member.
My older sister was living in Nagoya. I had always wanted to witness to her. In March 1992, we decided to have dinner together at a restaurant. I thought she was going to come alone. When I went to the restaurant she was there with a friend. I knew her friend, but I was not expecting her to be there and wondered why she was there that day. After dinner, my sister proposed we go to a coffee shop, so I rode in her car. Her friend sat in the front seat. I was in the rear seat. I asked her which one we were going to, but she didn’t answer clearly. She was kind of saying that she knew a very good place and was keeping it secret till we got there. When I looked outside, the car was driving toward Nagoya station. I thought the coffee shop was near the station. My sister said she had things to do at the station and I was wondering what.
When we got there, I saw my parents were standing at the corner. I thought that if she had known that our parents were coming, why hadn’t she told me? The car stopped and my parents got in the rear seat from both sides and pushed me into the middle. At that time, I finally realized that I was trapped. I had heard how people kidnap members. The way they sat in the car was exactly the way I was once told. There was no chance to escape because the car had already taken off. My sister took me directly to a church of Tenrikyo [a new religious movement founded in Japan in the nineteenth century] near Higashibiwajima station of the Meitetsu line at Nishi-ku Nagoya city.
It was a three-story, old building. I was surrounded by my parents, my sister and her friend and was taken inside the church. I had a small bag with me, but they took it away.
First, a little old man, Mr. Koide, appeared with copies of various printed materials written about the Unification Church. He began reading them to me and to my parents. It was about the leader of Unification Church and how many church members there are and so on. After that, he read a list of “evil deeds” of the Unification Church and how/why the church came to be labeled as an anti-social organization. All that he spoke about were the same things I had already heard, and I knew the truth behind his stories. I refuted him.
Mr. Koide talked for awhile, finished what he was supposed to say and left. Then, a church leader there, Mr. Hayashi, appeared. He was quite an old man. He looked like a person of character. He said that the children’s wrong deeds were the parents’ responsibility. He didn’t say much slander against the Unification Church.
We moved to the third floor after that. There were two youth of Tenrikyo and my sister’s friend (I found out that the friend was living in this church). They stuck with me closely to prevent me from escaping. My sister was with my parents and they slept together. They followed me even when I went to the restroom. The room was not completely sealed, but because of the two young male members of this church, I wasn’t able to escape.
For three days or more I listened to slander about the church and their attempts to persuade me to leave the church. After that, they showed me educational videos that explained Tenrikyo’s beliefs. During this time I was forced to do Tenrikyo’s rituals morning, noon and night. My older brother also came and joined in. At night, former Unification Church members came and tried to persuade me to leave the church. My older sister told me that the entire family had sacrificed everything for me. Also she told me that they had to continue this until I quit the church. My grandmother, who had stayed home, also told me that she wished that I would leave the church. They asked me to write a declaration of secession from the Unification Church.
I had learned about these methods of kidnapping and confinement before. I knew that “hard resistance only makes the situation more difficult.” I decided to be obedient and look for a chance to escape.
I simply obeyed everything they asked me to do: three rituals a day, cleaning in the morning, Tenrikyo study during the daytime. One day, I had time to talk with only my mother and sister. They really believed that the Unification Church is an anti-social organization and a very dangerous religion. Their mind was so stubbornly set. They didn’t have the capacity to listen to anything I said. They believed everything that they were told about the church without any doubt. They said “We were having a conversation,” but they denied anything I tried to say without considering it. “That’s how you are tricked,” they said instead. “You just don't know.” They acted like they knew everything about the Unification Church. There was no room for compromise or reaching an understanding. There was a deep wide gap between us. I was deeply hurt that my parents, whom I had trusted, didn’t trust me at all, no matter what I said, and they didn’t even try to understand me. Both sides said harsh things and we hurt each other. I said things that I shouldn’t have said and regretted it later.
I eventually realized the cause of our impasse, the huge gap that had been created between us. We were hurting each other even though none of us wanted to. The cause was nothing but the one-sided, twisted information that they had been “educated” with. They never told me where and how they were educated. But, I heard that my father was going to participate in a training workshop that was going to be held at the HQ of Tenrikyo. Finishing this workshop means that one becomes a member of Tenrikyo. I don’t remember when, but he went there and finished.
After about a week had passed, people around me became less tense. They asked me to help with some event to be held at the Kaoru church on Sunday. I thought that would be my only chance. I gave them my best effort to help with their event. Ten days had passed, and I had finished writing my declaration of secession. That brought great relief to my family. Of course, I wanted to make myself and my faith clearly understood for my parents’ sake. I wanted to properly reach a mutual understanding. However, the state of their minds was not ready for that. They were not able to listen to me and make fair and rational judgments. So I thought that getting out of there was, therefore, my first priority.
On the 14th day, I got a chance to be alone. I came down to the first floor from the third floor without seeing anybody. At the back entrance, my shoes were still there just as I had left them. I always kept some small change in my pocket to use for my escape. I avoided using the station in front of the church. They would easily catch me there if they found me missing. So, I ran to the next station and took a train to go back to my home at the UC study center. A few hours later, someone from my family came to the study center with my written declaration in their hand. They didn’t say that I had just escaped from them, but they asked the center members to bring my stuff, using the declaration as a proof of my will. They took all my belongings.
After that incident, for six months or so, I was in great fear of being kidnapped again. So I didn’t go out. I called my mother several times, but each time she repeatedly told me that she was going to die and she broke down crying.
Under normal circumstances, we would have been able to speak freely about my faith and their feelings. Instead, my family had been terrorized. My mother became mentally unstable. They destroyed my family and left scars in our heart. I can’t forgive them.
My sister still thinks that I betrayed the family by escaping from them. She thinks that I am a pitiful younger brother who lost his mind and can’t think straight because he is brainwashed by the Unification Church.
Later my father told me that he realized the intention was to make us members of Tenrikyo more than making me leave the Unification Church. At the training workshop he attended, he witnessed that the participants were terrible. They didn’t even know the difference between right and wrong. He was disappointed in Tenrikyo and told me that he didn’t believe in it any longer.
I hope such a thing will never happen again.
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