Is this the University, pursuing the Truth?
Series on “Countermeasures against cults" that hide heinous human rights violations in Japan’s Universities.
Tadashi Murou – Zaikai Nippon
(continued… second in a series)
It was a mid-summer afternoon under the scorching sunshine, several months after Student N (a female) was enrolled in National Osaka University. Her mobile phone began ringing just as she finished a class. Over the phone, her faculty advisor said: "Why don't you come over to talk about your studies?" Student N immediately went to his office. As soon as he saw her, he stated: "The Administration office asked me to inquire whether or not you have been having any problems in your college life."
As if to summarize, he said casually, "Our faculty director advised us to come and see him. So let’s go together, shall we?"
"Ah! This was the reason why he called me! It was Professor Y's direction!" Student N concluded.
Accompanied by her mentor, Student N went to Professor Y, the director of the Medical Faculty. Greeting her with smiles, he escorted her to a large conference table, at which Student N and her faculty advisor faced Professor Y. After confirming that she would return to her parents' home during the summer holidays, Professor Y opened Student N's profile and an attendance report she had submitted…”
"Well, I happened to hear about you from a friend of mine,” Professor Y said. “Have you quit Osaka University CARP? I wish you could have compiled that attendance report more concretely. You know, those who are involved (in CARP) do not write well."
Pointing out many reports piled up on his desk, Professor Y stared into Student N's eyes and said, "I collect these reports every year, and I make it a rule to talk to students who do not do well, you know." He was soft-spoken, but his eyes were stern. Outside, it was as hot as a steam bath. It was not due to the room's cooling system that Student N felt a chill running down her back.
Since the year 2006, an ominous “persecution” had been launched against religion-oriented college clubs and their members on campuses across the country, under the pretext of “anti-cult measures.” The most severely affected have been members of CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles), affiliated with the Unification Church. The “persecution,” to varying extents, has been observed in as many as 60 universities--state, public and private--across the country (as of October 2010).
Systematic measures against CARP were roughly divided into the following categories:
1. Routine warnings to the student body in general and to campus clubs in particular, by means of signboards, pamphlets, posters, booklets, websites, emails and campus broadcasts.
2. Cautions issued by professors and teaching staff during enrollment orientations, anti-cult seminars and regular classes
3. Various forms of academic harassment and intimidation against CARP members through constant surveillance, interrogation, coercion to leave the church or speak against it, and even rejection of graduate school examinations
4. Encouraging the coordination between students' guardians (parents) and “rescuer” ministers from other churches, including forced meetings with Christian ministers for the purpose of inducing faith-renunciation or assisting in physical kidnapping, forcible confinement and attempted deconversion.
Some actual cases are detailed below.
Walk through the National Chiba University's campus, and you will find shoulder-high signboards placed along the main roads. Printed over the large “No Parking!” traffic symbols, you will see the conspicuous word “Cult” followed by notices like "No covert religious marketing allowed on campus!" or "For counseling or information, please call upon the university's Cult Advisory Desk." Students walk past these signboards on a regular basis.
At the main entrance of a welfare-specialized college in the Tohoku Region, north of Tokyo, a signboard has a preposterous notice: "Watch out for a religious campaign that entices you with a Korean meal!"
In addition to such signboards are posters and pamphlets that exaggerate the “terrors of clubs associated with new, radical minority religious groups.” They declare: "Warning against cult promotion!” (National Ehime University) or "Beware of a fake club approaching you!” (Keio University)
Student M, a junior of National Fukuoka University, said: "At the orientation session right after our enrollment ceremony, our class professor cautioned us about 'an approach by a cult religion' in his talk on campus life. He distributed pamphlets critical of the Unification Church with a list of its affiliated organizations specified. The pamphlets were full of warnings such as how your life will be negatively affected if and when you join the Unification Church. Such pamphlets were placed in the notice boards throughout the campus, giving a strange impression and a menacing impact.”
At Chiba University, a similar notice was placed all over its campus including the cooperative shops, the main gate, the student affairs section, restaurants, corridors and notice boards. The “persecution” is so shrewd that it constantly imprints students with dangerous images of emerging minority religions, thus creating an atmosphere where people feel free to criticize them and exclude them from campus activities.
As direct warnings to students, attacks against religions during the entrance ceremony and orientation sessions have become more explicit and widespread, as testified to by Student M of Fukuoka University above. But an even more aggressive case occurred at Chiba University. "When I was enrolled in 2010, we heard a lecture at the entrance ceremony that demeaned the Unification Church and CARP by name,” said Freshman Y. “Following the university rector’s speech, Professor M of the Education Faculty criticized ‘cults’ for about 40 minutes, describing them as 'anti-social groups whose followers are bound to misfortune.'”
In the lecture, Professor M spent about five minutes criticizing so-called Spiritual Sales and other legal cases, referring to the Unification Church by name. He also fiercely criticized CARP as “a fake club for sports or research,” which lures students to its workshops and programs and plunders exorbitant sums of money. Freshman Y declared: “It is outrageous to accuse and attack a certain religious organization or its affiliated associations by name at an entrance ceremony of a national university.” Such a lecture was also conducted in 2009, he added.
For university administrators, these are pre-emptive and preventive attacks on the “cults.” These so-called “anti-cult measures” are implemented not only at the entrance ceremony and orientation meeting but even in classes after orientation week in many universities.
The Education Faculty of Waseda University shows an anti-cult video to the newly-enrolled students. Furthermore, in a required course entitled “Introductory Pedagogy,” warnings against “cults” are given early in curriculum for 10 minutes.
"Professor A, (the person in charge), cautioned students about 'cults in general' at first, and then wrote words like 'Sun Myung Moon', 'Victory Over Communism Theory' etc.,” reported Freshman T, of Waseda University. “The professor said: 'This guy gathers lots of money for his own benefit.,..You may quit other religions but you will find it very hard to leave this sect… Some professors are committed to this faith.’.Is this a class in my cherished Waseda University? I could not believe my eyes. Professor A did not erase those words until the class was over."
The anti-cult practices and overt attacks on the Unification Church continue unabated in normal class days, as well.
"My University is terrible!” exclaimed, Student M, a senior of National Fukuoka University. “While I was a freshman, Professor K critcized CARP during a class on educational clinical psychology: 'They (CARP) will approach you like a volunteer service club, then invite you to a workshop, in which you will be brainwashed to believe in the messianic role of a chap called Sun Myung Moon. You will be pressured to render your service but you will be unable to leave the church.' The professor made these one-sided claims on and on."
Another professor at Fukuoka University openly blames “cults” and attacks the doctines of the Unification Church in his sociology classes.
In one of the national universities in the Kanto Region around Tokyo, one professor engages in rampant criticism about minority religions in his class, though unrelated to his specialized subject…
We must carefully examine the fact that in Japan's democratic society, basic human rights, including the individuals' freedom of conscience and faith are openly violated at regular classes of universities, national and/or private, which are supposed to be bastions dedicated to the search for facts and truth.
Finally, we have a university which designates “anti-cult measures” as one of its required subjects. This is the ultimate sign of a collapsing democracy! It is National Osaka University, in which all the newly-enrolled students in all departments are required, after the May holidays, to attend the course misleadingly entitled “Life Environment,” offered by Professor Y of the Medical Faculty. The earlier testimony of the Student N referred to this very situation.
"I attended the lecture in the 300-capacity hall, the largest in the university,” she said. In its earlier part, a teaching assistant spoke about traffic regulations and rules in and around the campus for about 15 minutes. Then, Professor Y talked for one hour with the obvious objective of exposing and eliminating CARP membership in the university."
Professor Y started his lecture by specifying the definition of 'cults' and their promotional methods, expounding the mind control theory. He described in exaggerated terms the supposed grotesque transformation of those who were involved in the “cults.” The course had been inaugurated after several students were found involved in the new Christian-related sect called “Providence.”
"The longer I listened to his lecture, the more furious I felt!” said Student N. “The club I belonged to was blamed and attacked as its pamphlet was shown on the hall's large screen! I still remember how astonished I was, and the boiling frustration and anxiety inside me.”
After hastily writing a required “attendance report” on the lecture, Student N left the hall without being noticed. Subsequently, for the sake of friendly relations, Student N had to announce her withdrawal from CARP to her fellow students.
This “attendance report” is dubious, indeed. Students are asked to describe their impressions and comments on the lecture, and are also encouraged to blow the whistle on anyone among their friends involved in “cult activity.”
One case in point was Student N herself, whose case caught the attention of Professor Y unwittingly through her friend's “attendance report,” which hinted that some friends were associated with CARP. Professor Y persistently interrogated this friend of Student N by emails and finally identified Student N as a member of the CARP.
Why on earth should a college professor go that far! Is it a duty of a professor? In N's case, however, because her friend did testify that Student N had quit CARP after listening to the professor's lecture, Student N was exempt from further reprimand.
"A university professor digs into a student's personal information by using the student's friends as watchdogs. Is this acceptable? What a graceless and unfair method!" Student N was overcome by indescribable despair and suspicion.
Several months later, on the above-mentioned hot summer afternoon, Student N was taken to Professor Y's room. The professor had kept the Student N's name on his list of suspects. Following months of observation and surveillance, Professor Y directed Student N's advising professor to bring her for the direct interrogation.
"Well, I happened to hear about you from my friends,” Professor Y claimed. “Have you stopped attending CARP? I must hear directly from those whom I am concerned about, you know." Under pressure but still maintaining her composure, Student N answered, "I have dissociated myself from CARP." But the professor was not deterred. "Who approached you? Oh, that guy! He is not a student of our university but of University M. His parents are followers of the Unification Church." Professor Y already knew who introduced Student N to CARP, but pretended total ignorance."
But the objective of Professor Y's interrogation was not just to confirm Student N's resignation from CARP. He suddenly changed the topic: "Don't you know other students associated with CARP?" He was pressing Student N to act as his spy! Not only was he attempting to assure Student N's withdrawal from CARP, but he was also attempting to get Student N to tip him off in order to corner other students and pressure them to leave CARP as well.
"How about Student A? Student B? Student C?" he demanded, specifying their actual names one by one. As Professor Y continued his interrogation, he kept his gaze steadily on Student N's eyes.
She later testified: "Professor Y repeatedly asked about Student C, more than any other students. But I really did not know Student C, so I answered with confidence that I did not know anything.…
How unethical it is to oblige all the newly-enrolled students to attend this course on minority religions and confess their conscience. What kind of universities coerce their students to become spies on campus clubs? I cannot but feel strong fury and disappointment over the unfair, rampant academic harassment and power harassment.
Nonetheless, Student N's case is still mild in comparison with the “persecution” given to those who openly follow their faith. We shall soon see that the university's violation of religious freedom and other human rights gets even more cruel. (to be continued.)