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    Put an End to Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion! PDF Print E-mail
    Friday, 20 November 2009 22:59

    To whom it may concern,

    I have come to the United States at this time to share my ordeal as a victim of religious kidnapping andforced confinement for 12 years and 5 months, and to request the cooperation of American people like you in order to eliminate the practice of religious kidnapping and forced conversion that are still continuing to take place in Japan.

    I came in contact with the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity at the age of23, and my soul was transformed from a nihilistic one to one filled with hope and joy. However, my joy was short-lived as I soon encountered severe trials.

    What I encountered was religious kidnapping and forced confinement where others tried to force me to abandon my faith. This took place not just once but twice. Fortunately, I was able to escape from the first confinement after one month. I subsequently changed my name from fear of another kidnapping, kept my whereabouts secret, and lived like an underground Christian believer.

    One day, eight years after my first confinement, I was again kidnapped and forcibly confined. I was 31 years old. The second confinement lasted 12 years and 5 months. When I regained my freedom I was already 44 years old. During the confinement, I was subjected to all kinds of verbal and mental abuse by many individuals. I came to feel, “If such mental tortures continue, I want to die.” I prayed to God in agony, day after day, “Please send me to the life after death by tomorrow morning.”

    Whenever I share with my acquaintances in the United States about the fact that such religious persecutions are taking place frequently in modern-day Japan, they all have a hard time believing it. In addition, when they hear that more than 4,000 people have been subjected to religious kidnapping and confinement for forced religious conversion in the past 40 years, most people just shake their heads saying, “I can’t believe it.”

    Japan is widely regarded as a mature and advanced democratic nation where religious freedom is well established. However, the reality that 4,000 criminal acts of abuses through religious kidnapping and forced conversion such as my own case are not prosecuted raises fundamental doubts about whether or not Japan is really a nation ruled by law. This is unfortunate. Actually, I said to myself many times during my confinement, “Am I really in Japan?”

    In the United States, there was time when religious kidnapping, confinement and deprogramming cases took place frequently and became a social issue during 1970s and 1980s. However, the perpetrators were arrested, brought to justice through court trials and punished. Those illegal activities were virtually terminated by the end of the 1990s.

    In order to eliminate such tragedies from continuing to occur in Japan, I have been working with other victims, who have experienced similar ordeals, and I established the Association to Eliminate Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion in September 2008. I have been publicly involved in the efforts to deal with this issue. I sincerely ask for help from the United States government officials, the human rights community and other who value religious freedom by helping to eliminate such tragedies from occurring in Japanese society.

    More specifically, I would like to ask for help in creating the environment where some Christian ministers, lawyers and deprogrammers currently involved in religious kidnapping and forced conversion will not be able to continue their activities. Also, in the unfortunate event where religious kidnapping and forced confinement do take place, I would like to ask you to encourage the police and other authorities in Japan to swiftly act to rescue the victims and prosecute the offenders.

    August 17, 2009
    Toru Goto