Is this the University, pursuing the Truth? - 1st in series
“Countermeasures against cults" hide heinous human rights violations in Japan’s Universities.
By Tadashi Murou – Zaikai Nippon
"What are you doing to me! Stop!"
"How can you do such a thing! Stop it!"
It was early August 2008, a scorching hot day of historical proportions. The angry shouts, or rather despairing screams, of a senior student—let’s call him “K”--echoed through a research room of the Science & Engineering School of Nagoya University Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. [ed.—Nagoya University is a national university, and one of Japan’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.]
Clinging to a column for five to ten minutes, K's desperate struggle was finally neutralized as a crowd of about 15 people, including his own parents and relatives subdued him, using a full-Nelson wrestling hold. K was ultimately dragged away from the campus and thrown into a waiting van. His abductors, in two vehicles, then quickly drove him away.
This was one of the now internationally-notorious religious abductions afflicting followers of the Unification Church in Japan, happening anywhere and any time: at home, on the street, in a parking lot, a driving school or on church premises. But K's abduction took place within the University, a supposed bastion of truth. Unfortuntely, his is not an isolated case.
In mid-September 2006, with the heat of summer still not over, a master's student named “N” of Osaka University was stepping out of a research ward when he was surrounded by six waiting individuals, including his parents and other relatives. The stunned N was not only kept immobile as his belt was tightly grabbed by two of his captors, but he was also held incommunicado as his cellular phone was confiscated, making it impossible to signal an SOS to his friends.
N was placed in the middle seat of an apparently rented van and was flanked on both sides., Parked in the campus lot, the vehicle's navigation system was covered with a handkerchief so as not to reveal the abductors' destination.
Due to this kidnapping, N was deprived of the opportunity to give a presentation at an academic society, for which he had ardently worked. "I was at a loss when he went missing," N’s faculty advisor later reported. N's academic career was hampered by a barbaric act against his will.
Similar barbarism was rampant in Okayama University in 2002. When Ms. “I” was coming out of her department building after class, she was kidnapped by about 15 people, led by her relatives. (During that period at Okayama, there were at least seven confirmed cases in a row, in which students were abducted by their families.) Several of Ms. I’s friends tried to rescue her in the ensuing scuffle, but her relatives forced her into a vehicle and drove away.
But it was after the year 2006 that many universities across the country began to witness ominous “persecution” against members of religiously-oriented on-campus clubs under the pretext of “anti-cult measures.” The targets included a new Korean Christian group called "Setsuri” (Providence),the Buddhist group "Jodo Shinshu Shinrankai" affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect, the group "Fuji Taishakuji Kenshokai," which challenged the administration of a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist sect, as well as "John's Waseda Church," of the Protestant line.
The most victims by far, however, have been from the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP), a student organization affiliated with the Unification Church. In the past five years, about 40 confirmed cases of kidnappings and confinement involving CARP members took place within college campuses.
In this series, we will take a closer look into the CARP persecution in colleges, such as its characteristics and tactics, external organizations aiding the practices and pastors engaged in “deprogramming.” We will also consider the political backdrop, breaches of the Constitution and the ugly face of academic harassment.
Most frightening of all is the fact that college officials openly refer to “the need for rescue efforts”—in other words, forced de-conversion by means of abduction and confinement.
For instance, Professor Kenji Kawashima of the Keisen Women's College lauded the rescue operations in the booklet "University and Students" (Vol.85), issued on September 15, 2010 by the Japan Students Support Organization, an independent administrative agency affiliated with the Ministry of Education and Science:
"We now witness a few cases in which student affairs departments collaborate with outside experts and anti-cult associations in saving those students who have committed to certain faith groups."
“Students' Life,” an Internet publication of Ryukoku University, flatly ignored freedom of religion, stressing “renunciation of faith” and “countermeasures” against religiously-affiliated campus clubs:
"If a student is detected engaged in a cult group, a prompt countermeasure is strongly urged. If they are left unchecked on the grounds of religious freedom, they will find it increasingly hard to quit the faith."
The abduction and confinement of CARP members is practiced extremely meticulously. Let us look at K's case at Nagoya University.
"This is outrageous by any standard. What on earth is happening? Stop it!"
K's kidnapping was so abnormal that it astonished assistant professors and other researchers in his research lab. They were reportedly ready to intervene. However, they were told adamantly by one of K's relatives not to worry as it was "for a family consultation."
The response of the college administrators' to this serious incident, involving the violent abduction an enrolled student out of his research room at the hands of outsiders was, quite inconceivable.
K's faculty advisor effectively quashed questions in the research room when he uttered ambiguously, "Mr. K will not return to the class for some time owing to his personal circumstances. Do not make a fuss about this!"
Astonishingly, according to an interview with K himself conducted later by the Association to Eradicate Kidnapping and Confinement (headed by medical doctor Hirohisa Koide), the university officials not only were aware of the abduction plot in advance but offered their assistance in it. K's parents and his faculty advisor held a preliminary consultation with a clinical psychiatrist of Nagoya University in charge of “anti-cult measures,” in which K’s advisor proposed: "I may initiate handing Mr. K over to the parents." K's parents, not wanting to bother the professor, carried out the abduction themselves.
Here is a college professor who suggests cooperating in the kidnapping of his student, rather than preventing it. Is this really a national university which allegedly seeks for justice, facts and truth? Such an abduction of a student out of the college campus could not have occurred unless the plot was known by the college administration.
K was taken to Osaka in a van and confined in an apartment room rented by his elder sister. Its entry lock was adapted for extra security, while its windows were made unmovable. In the van, K found an “operations manual,” apparently handwritten by his father with some instructions such as: "When questioned during the operation, you just repeat that this is a family matter." There was also a portable toilet inside the car.
K was certain that "The plot was not a product out of my parents' whim but a meticulously planned operation dictated by professionals of abduction and confinement.”
As if to prove him right, a few days into the confinement, K was visited by several individuals, including a former male CARP member (named “A”) of Kansai Gaigo College and Pastor Michinobu Toyoda of the Suita Church (Osaka), United Church of Christ in Japan, who tried to challenge his faith. K heard directly from A that A had also been abducted on campus, when his professor called him to his research lab and asked him to wait in the next room. Upon opening the door, A encountered several relatives awaiting him.
Prior to Pastor Toyoda's visit, K was ordered to write a note saying "I shall meet with Pastor Toyoda." Under detention, K did not have an alternative. This note indicating K's own will for the meeting was part of Pastor Toyoda's shrewd preparations for a possible court proceeding.
K was pressured to convert under one-month detention. When he was relocated to Inochi-no-Ie (House of Life)--a project of the non-profit organization Komoro Izumi-kai, directed by Pastor Kyoko Kawasaki of UCCJ--K managed to escape from the premises. (Subsequently, his parents breached their own pledge and confined him again. K later submitted his written resignation to the Nagoya University CARP.)
You may want to know what has happened with N, the master's course student of Osaka University, who was abducted right out of his research lab by his own parents.
N was confined in a fourth-floor room of a weekly apartment-hotel in Osaka City. Its windows were made immovable, while its entrance door was chained and pad-locked, hard to open even from within.
In N's case, he too was pressed to quit CARP through what is called “protective persuasion” conducted by two Christian pastors. They were: Pastor Mamoru Takazawa of the evangelical Kobe Makoto Church (Hyogo Pref.), who was dubbed the 'Kitchen-knife Pastor' after he had coerced Unification Church members to renounce their faith while wielding a kitchen knife; and Atsushi Ojima, a church administrator of the Nishi Nihon Evangelical Lutheran Aoya Church (Hyogo Pref.), who was known to accompany Pastor Takazawa.
While under detention, N was told by Pastor Takazawa himself that N's deprogramming was originally supposed to be carried out by Pastor Masaharu Takayama of the Kurashiki Megumi Church (Okayama Pref.) who was notorious for the forced conversion of college students. But judging from N's strong faith, Pastor Takayama hurriedly requested the hard-line Pastor Takazawa for the job.
N's confinement ended after about one week, when he escaped. When everyone else was asleep at night, N pulled with his full force on the entrance door chain. Perhaps more loose than usual, the chain was partly released. Although it was still linked to the door frame with a metal anti-intrusion device, N lay on his side and was able to squeeze through a small gap.
It is unclear who deprogrammed Miss "I" of Okayama University mentioned above. As a one-time CARP member of Okayama University used to attend the Kurashiki Megumi Church, Pastor Takayama was a likely actor. As a matter of fact, his church has an online link to an anti-cult website of the Students Support Center of the Okayama University.
There are some common features in the forced conversion attempts on college campuses. First, there is a close collaboration among the university administrators and students' parents or guardians, as shown by the fact that--in the on-campus abduction of K from Nagoya University--K's parents, faculty advisor and the anti-cult clinical psychiatrist held an advance consultation.
"Collaboration" may sound nice, but it effectively exhorts parents to act out of anxiety.
“Cult groups are good at placating families by exploiting their feelings like: ‘We ought to believe our children!’ or ‘This should never happen to our child!’ Never take it for granted because you are in contact with your child by a cellular phone or email.' ('Students' Life', Ryukoku University)
All of the on-campus abduction cases mentioned above were carried out by parents after their receiving information from the colleges concerned. This is also the case with off-campus abduction/confinement cases involving students.
In the case of Miss A, a graduate from Ehime University, while she was still at school in 2005, Mr. N, in charge of the university's Student Support Center, called A's parents and introduced them to Pastor Takayama. A half-year later, A's mother paid a sudden visit to A's lodging house, followed by her father and an aunt the next day. They then forced A to return home. Three days into the house detention, Pastor Takayama showed up, pressing A to leave the church or to meet other CARP members [who had left]. But A refused to comply.
In the meantime, A pleaded for release, even with tears, because she would be unable to submit a vital experiment report. Pastor Takayama obliged A to call Mr. N, who suggested that he call A's faculty advisor to postpone the report's deadline by one week. The professor did approve this. Likewise, N contacted professors to excuse A's absence from classes.
Aware of the de-conversion being forced on their students, professors of Ehime University did not object to the practice but cooperated with it. The students' rights to learn in classes were flatly contravened.
"It was most disgusting to watch my parents bowing their heads to Pastor Takayama who ceaselessly spoke abusively to me in front of them . While my parents were present, I was bombarded with nasty words from morning ‘till night. It was extremely painful, decreasing my vitality, appetite and will to do anything but staying in bed."
Her testimony reflected A's state of mind as on the verge of serious depression. To our surprise, the college administration kept in contact with the captors, even after the students' graduation.
Miss K, a female graduate and a CARP veteran of Ehime University, was taking care of undergraduate students when her parents received a letter from Literature Professor Y of the University in the autumn of 2006. It advised her parents to come to a meeting with Professor Y and Pastor Takayama.
Professor Y reportedly insisted that Pastor Takayama oust K from the Unification Church… Through this “collaboration” with college officials, the parents’ anxiety and fear were excessively aggravated.
Even before abduction and confinement was in evidence, some colleges conducted routine surveillance and intimidation of CARP members. Mr. F, who graduated from Oita University in 2007, still aches in his heart from those days. "Parents of CARP members were informed by the university administration that their children had joined the Unification Church, [and were provided with] negative information about what was called 'spiritual sales' and 'mass weddings.' Students were threatened by the universities on academic grounds, while being opposed by their parents on the other hand. They had to leave CARP, one after another. Watching them leave, my heart was broken and wounded."
The testimony of M, a student of a college west of Tokyo, is important for understanding what the university administration would say to the custodians.
It was in June 2006, a year after M had joined CARP, when his parents received a call from Mr. O of the Students' Affairs Committee. O began by stressing, "Please keep this absolutely confidential." He then declared the following:
M’s parents should attend a renunciation seminar conducted by an anti-UC pastor, whom we will introduce.
He learned of M's CARP membership from a former CARP leader, who graduated, got a job and resigned from CARP this year.
This former CARP leader referred to M and another person as possible targets for renunciation attempts.
About five percent of the students in M's department are Unification Church followers.
There are professors and lawyers who are the Unification Church followers. Thus, their mind control program [against M] will be completed in two months.
I am dumbfounded! These behaviors, akin to 'secret police' or 'informers,' prove abominable facts that: universities collaborate with one another in persecuting CARP; they accept assistance from anti-UC ministers; they look for more targets of persecution by using CARP members as 'spies'; and they deliberately insinuate false information and cause fear and confusion among students'. (to be continued)
Tadashi Murou is a freelance journalist specializing in new age and new religious movements. This article is the first in a series running in Zaikai Nippon (Financial Community Japan). Used with permission.