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Forced De-Conversion Victim Statements

 

Hitomi Matsumori

Confined: April 21, 1987-June 3, 1987

Faith-breaker: Mitsuo Toda

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT

 

April 10, 2010

 

Profile

I was born April 1, 1959, in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, as first daughter to my father, Yasuji Aoki, and mother, Yoko. After graduating from high school, I entered the School of Nursing attached to Dokkyo Medical University in April 1977, graduating in March 1980. In April, I became employed by the same university’s hospital as a full-time nurse.

 

On July 20, 1984, I met Mr. Hirohisa Koide, then a third-year student of Jichi Medical University. I started studying the teachings of the Unification Church (UC) and joined in April 1985.

 

Kidnapping and Confinement

In 1987, I was a member of the UC in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture. On April 21, I happened to be staying in Suzaka City, Nagano Prefecture, when my parents and uncle suddenly appeared about 8:00 pm and forced me into a van. Throughout the night, the car headed toward Aomori Prefecture in the north. I was then put on a ferry from Aomori to Hakodate in Hokkaido and taken to Sapporo City. During the (automobile) trip, I was hardly allowed to use the restroom and recall being told to go in the fields on the way, being guarded by my parents and feeling humiliated. Inside the car my parents held me by both my hands, and the car door handles were covered with masking tape. I tried to escape but could not. While driving to Hokkaido, my mother got out of the car once to make a call and reported that I had been placed under “protective custody.” I’d had a good relationship with my parents, who now seemed to be acting almost abnormally, and I was shocked as well as filled with a sorrow that’s hard to describe.

 

I was finally brought to an apartment in Sapporo, the whole trip having taken about one full day. There were steel bars on every window, which could be locked from the outside. Obviously, it wasn’t a regular apartment but one that had been modified for confinement. When I was first taken there, my heart froze with fear.

 

Within that apartment building was an office of the Hokkaido Association of Those Concerned about the Clandestine Activities of the UC (Concerned Association). The head of the association, Mitsuo Toda, was a post office employee as well as a minister who had kidnapped and confined his own (adult) child. Five or six professional faith-breakers were also there constantly.

 

There were two bedrooms, a kitchen, and bathroom, My parents and an uncle kept watch over me. My mother cooked the meals, but as I was upset about the confinement, at times I would not eat. From the day following my arrival, I could not take a step outside and was made to read literature about the Bible, the Principle, and various books written by the opposition. I was made to listen to material criticizing the Church, which clearly seemed fabricated. Former UC members who had been kidnapped, confined and left the Church also visited, pressing me to leave the Church as well. It was truly spiritual torture.

 

As I took a defiant attitude toward such treatment, I was told I’d be put into solitary confinement and was moved to the room closest to the office. When about two weeks had passed, my uncle “lost it,” saying if I didn’t change my attitude, he’d keep me locked up for a year or even two. He consulted my father’s elder brother and returned to Tochigi, saying he was going to raise funds for a year’s worth of confinement.

 

Escape attempt

One day, a French lay-pastor named Pascal Zivi and a former UC member were visiting, to talk me into leaving the church. When I looked toward the front door on my way to the toilet, I noticed that the door was unlocked. Thinking this was my chance to escape, I ran out in my bare feet as fast as possible, but my father and the faith-breakers came after me and caught me. Soon, my uncle came back from Tochigi with my younger sister, who was in middle school at the time. Thinking that at this rate, my parents as well as I would be torn up both mentally and physically, I decided to pretend I was going to leave the church. I started to listen more to their talks and smiled at Toda and the other faith-breakers. Little by little, they began to trust me, and I visited two of the minister’s churches with my parents and uncle and attended church services with them. The content of their talk was mainly criticism of the UC.

 

About 40 days following my confinement, around May 31, perhaps they thought I was ready to be freed. They unlocked the door, and I was able to go in and out of the apartment freely. We continued to stay there for the next three days until June 3, and then finally, I was allowed to return to my parents’ home in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture.

 

After the Confinement

I told my parents that during the confinement, even if I was physically restricted, my heart was free, and that I actually had not abandoned my faith. I then made a decision to return to the UC after 40 days. While at home, mail came from the minister who was involved with my confinement, and inside it was a receipt that showed he had received 10,000 yen per for every meeting he had with me. I realized that their activities of kidnapping, confinement and faith-breaking were for the sake of earning money.

 

For the next year, my parents did not give up trying to make me leave the church, and I often went home from visiting them in tears. But I did not lose my faith. On August 25, 1992, I attended the 30,000 Couples Blessing Ceremony held in Korea and was married to Harayuki Matsumori. Today, we are blessed with three children and are living happily together.

 

My father passed away four years ago, and although we are parent and child, the kidnapping and confinement had pushed us far apart. It took a long time for both sides to heal their wounds, but in the end, they became good grandparents who loved their grandchildren very much.

 

Yet, until today, so many UC members have gone through the unbearable pain of kidnapping, confinement and faith breaking. Such acts just cannot be allowed. I wish to protest loudly that these acts are criminal acts. It is unforgivable to take away freedom of religion through such unjust, unfair means, and I plead that such incidents never take place again.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 20:07