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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… third in a series)

Shimane University"I don't want you to join our lab class," Student J, a senior of a national university in the Kanto region was told categorically by his advising professor on a scorching mid-summer afternoon in August 2010 at the seminar room.

Student J mustered his strength and challenged the professor: "Why?

The answer: “You are not trustworthy. For our joint research efforts, we need to talk candidly based upon mutual trust. Since you follow a certain religion (Unification Church), we cannot trust you to carry out our joint research."

Student J had intended to participate in Professor N's research lab class for his graduate course. But his hope was frustrated, because he belonged to the Collegiate Association for Research of Principles (CARP), a student club affiliated with the Unification Church. In fact, student J was one of its leading members.

It all began two weeks earlier, in mid-July, when Student J tried to promote CARP in the student dorm, where such activity was prohibited. Around the end of July, Mr. J was summoned by the Student Affairs Section. He was interrogated thoroughly by the Faculty Director, his advising professor (Dr. N) and the Student Affairs officer. They also informed him of the ban against religious activity in the dorm.

"What is the extent of the ban?" asked J. The middle-aged Student Affairs officer reprimanded him in rough voice: "This attitude of yours testifies to your lack of remorse!" Faced with persistent interrogation, digging even into the inner workings of CARP, Student J responded cautiously. His behavior did not satisfy Professor N, who finally declared, "You have proven not trustworthy, haven't you?"

A week later Professor N asked Student J to stay for a while after class. There again, J argued for his right to be part of CARP, saying: "I joined the religious-oriented club because I felt there were other important issues in addition to my academic pursuits."

Professor N replied: "The point is that you are promoting an anti-social new religion. You are not just involved, but you are promoting it. I am afraid you may not get out of it for the rest of your life. That is why you are not trustworthy."
Student J: "Why on earth can't you trust me?"
Professor N: "This new religion's founder uses mind control methods, forcing his followers to participate in profit-taking operations. So, why don't you simply engage yourself in a research laboratory under a professor who knows nothing about your religious orientation?"
Student J: "I applied to graduate school specifying your seminar as my preferred course."
Professor N: "You should explain at the oral entrance exam that you have changed your preference."
"This was devastating to me,” Student J later explained. “I was so disappointed by Professor N. As a university professor, he openly abandoned educating a student on account of his faith. I seriously question Professor N's ethics as an educator."

The behavior described by the term 'academic harassment' has been recognized lately as an unlawful behavior. It is roughly defined as 'verbal or physical behaviors committed by individuals of senior rank in academic institutions, exploiting their authority, inflicting mental or physical damages, or depriving subordinates of legitimate rights of study and research."

Academic harassment is stipulated to be unlawful behavior in the Japan’s Civil Code Article 709. The violator can also be held liable for contempt (Penal Code Article 231), defamation (Article 230) and coercion (Article 223).  A similarly unlawful conduct known as Power Harassment takes place in the professional work environment.

Oppressive activities against minority new religions and their affiliated student clubs in universities across the country obviously correspond to the definition of academic harassment.

Teachers criticize a specific religion in a credit course. Students are obliged to submit reports regarding their thoughts in a credit course dedicated to criticize 'cults'. CARP members are forced to leave the organization, to renounce their faith and even to be an informant on their fellow members during interrogation sessions (see previous installment). How can we tolerate these illegal activities taking place in a university, supposedly a bastion for the pursuit of truth, in the democratic society of Japan?

Among other things, we should not ignore the sort of academic harassment that Student J experienced, in which a students' rights of learning are ignored and deprived, blocking their future academic careers.

Another CARP member in a national university in the Kanto Region testifies: "When a class was over, I was led by my academic advisor to an empty room for ‘a talk’, as he put it. There, I was interrogated by three people including my professor, another unknown teacher and a male university officer in his 50s." They began by asking for the address of the CARP dormitory, the number of its members and the person in charge. Their interrogation then escalated to bitter criticism of the Unification Church as ‘a cult group’.

"They demanded my immediate resignation from CARP. If necessary, they threatened, they would bring in anti-Unification Church pastors to give me ‘advice’.” I responded: “For God's sake, do not intervene in matters of my conscience. I shall study hard.” At the end of the conversation, the Students Affairs officer implied that I would be expelled from school as a nuisance to other students unless I gave up promoting CARP immediately. It was nothing but a threat, I guessed, but quite unsettling."

The implication of expulsion, the severest punishment upon a student, was nothing less that academic harassment. This university officer violated my right to religious freedom guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution and is liable for indictment.

Now, what has happened with the Student J, who was not allowed to join his preferred laboratory? In spite of the academic harassment by Professor N, Student J proceeded with his application to Professor N's lab and courageously went ahead with the required entrance examination. But the Professor N's email following the exam was dismissive.

“Concerning the change in your preferred laboratory in your graduate course, you are kindly advised to inform (the administration) of your new preferred laboratory's name, by email to the below-mentioned professor.” Professor N dared to practice double academic harassment by rejecting the student's preferred course both before and after the entrance examination, simply on account of the student’s faith. Student J had little option but to lodge a complaint with the university administration regarding Professor N's 'unreasonable treatment' of him.

Student J consulted twice with the university's Health Management Center and Student Counseling Office, both of which considered Professor N's actions as tantamount to academic and power harassments, advising Student J to consult with the Faculty Director.

It turned out that this person was the very professor who attended the interrogation of Student J at the Students Affairs office mentioned earlier… The following is a conversation between the Faculty Director and Student J.

Student J: "After the last consultation, I was not allowed to join in Professor N's laboratory. Then, following the examination, I received this email."
Faculty Director: Such practices (committed by Professor N) should not happen. Professors should not interfere in students' religion, thoughts or matters of conscience. I really wonder what he meant by that email?"
Student J: "I am worried about failing the entrance examination for the graduate course because of this circumstance."
Faculty Director: "That cannot happen, because the examination is conducted with anonymous application numbers only. As for your preferred courses, however, it may depend on certain circumstances including a student's first or second priorities. (In your situation), you may not be happy with Professor N's laboratory. "

Early in September, the examination results were announced and Student J passed. Student J felt that the Faculty Director must have advised Professor N. From the Faculty Director’s standpoint, a legal case over its staff's academic harassment would be the last thing they needed.

Nonetheless, Student J had no assurance that he would be provided with a desk or computer in Professor N's laboratory. Rather, he may be subjected to protracted academic harassment resulting in impeded research. He may face unjust nuisances including moving out to another laboratory in the master's program, applying for another graduate course anew or producing an evidence of faith renunciation and apologizing to Professor N.

There is another grave development: namely, university administrators and anti-Unification Church ministers are closely collaborating with each other to destroy their students' religious beliefs.

In the forced renunciation of faith of CARP members, university authorities employ basically two methods: directly approaching students or mobilizing their guardians (mainly parents). In the former method, CARP members are pressure to renounce their faith and inform on their co-religionists. They are also introduced to anti-Unification Church ministers who attempt to induce them to change their faith.

In the latter method, university faculty and officials introduce anti-Unification Church ministers to the students’ guardians. The ministers then “educate” these guardians and attempt to convince them to engage in the abduction and confinement of the students to achieve a forced conversion.

In either method, the anti-Unification Church ministers assume crucial roles. Even in private colleges such as Sendai Shirayuri Women's College, there are numerous incidents such as: "When I was a freshman, a class advisor warned my parents and I was taken to a pastor by my teacher and my parents."

But in national universities, with frantic ‘anti-cult measures’ being taken--such as at the universities of Chiba, Nagoya, Osaka, Okayama and Ehime--there is a much more direct involvement of anti-UC ministers. Student K, a junior at Shimane University, was about to be taken by Professor A, in charge of anti-cult measures, to the Matsue Kitabori Church of UCCJ administered by Pastor Inoue.

Regarding my report in this magazine’s March 2011 issue, it was UCCJ's Suita Church Pastor Michinobu Toyota and Pastor Tsuneko Kawasaki (of the Inochi-no Kai, Nagano) who attempted the forced conversion of Student K, a senior of Nagoya University. Student K was kidnapped on campus for this purpose in collusion with his own academic advisor.

I also mentioned that, on a website dedicated to anti-cult measures by Okayama University's Student Support Center, a link to Kurashiki Megumi Christ Church (Okayama) was placed. At the objection of the Unification Church and CARP, Okayama University removed the link in February this year.

The Kurashiki Megumi Christ Church is run by Pastor Masaharu Takayama, who is known for practicing forced de-conversion among college students. Student N (a graduate at the time of the incident) who was abducted from inside the Osaka University campus was originally meant to undergo the de-conversion process by Pastor Takayama. (As it happened, he was dealt with by Pastor Mamoru Takazawa of Kobe Makoto Church and Atsushi Ojima, an administrator of Nishi Nihon Lutheran Aoya Church.)

Particular attention should be drawn to the deepening collusion of universities in the western part of Japan with this Pastor Takazawa.

When female student K, a CARP member of Ehime University, was the victim of Pastor Takazawa's de-conversion attempt while under house arrest in collusion with the university administration in autumn 2006, she observed the absurd devotion to Pastor Takazawa that Professor Y of Ehime University's Faculty of Literature displayed.

"Professor Y said, 'Pastor Takazawa is fantastic and powerful!' True or false, Pastor Takazawa used to describe himself as a 'former Yakuza' [Japanese mafia member]. Originally, he offered counsels for de-converting the Jehovah's Witness followers. Old CARP members used to tear up and throw away our materials or lash out and aggressively resisted. But recent members are so weak that they easily abandon the association with CARP’, he told me." (testimony of Student K)

In spring of 2007, female student A, in the vicinity of Okayama, was confined by her parents in an apartment deep into the mountain of Okayama Prefecture. It was Pastor Takayama who attempted to de-convert her. According to Student A, Takayama boasted of himself as follows, even by revealing conditions of other confined victims:

"You would not listen to me without this condition (of confinement), would you? I have had a couple of dozen CARP members give it up. Osaka University even convened a professors' (anti-cult) conference [to which I spoke]. I am needed that much! When its rector is absent, I am occupying his chair, not just at Osaka University but in many other colleges across the country.”

…In June 2006, Student M, a freshman and CARP member in a Kansai college, was cautioned by Professor O, a Student Life Committee member. (see our March 2011 issue) How did the college get to know his CARP involvement? Three months before, one female CARP leader, Ms. S, was kidnapped and confined. When she eventually abandoned CARP, she revealed M's name. In fact, Professor O confided to Student M: "Are you acquainted with Graduate S? She is asking for your rescue as you are not yet so deeply involved in CARP that you can be saved."

Graduate S revealed more names. "I was shown her list, which had as many as 15 names of students. Their parents' contact information, except for Student M’s, was also registered there. Even Student S of Kobe University was enlisted. (M's testimony)”

It was also Pastor Takayama that persuaded S to leave CARP and turned her into an informer. S was pressed by Pastor Takayama for their names and, through subsequent communication with Professor O, the list of 15 CARP members was produced.

Those ministers who are regularly engaged in forced de-conversion of the Unification Church followers normally receive remuneration without receipts from the victims' kin. The amounts could exceed one million yen, as some relatives testify, making the whole operation quite a lucrative undertaking.

In what capacity are these 'profit-seeking ministers' allowed to engage in anti-cult measures at national or public universities? Who authorized it? It must be strictly investigated whether an unholy alliance where money is concerned exists between the universities, 'anti-cult' professors and 'profit-seeking' ministers… (end)