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The Case Of Mitsuko Ishikawa Antal PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 November 2009 00:40




Mitsuko Ishikawa Antal was born in 1971.  She graduated from college in March of 1992.  In April of 1992 she was employed by the Isegaki Cooperation Bank.  She was introduced to the Unification Church by her sister, Yukiko, a registered nurse, that same year, and Mitsuko joined the church in July.

In April of 1995 Mitsuko moved to the Unification Church Youth Center.  In May, Mitsuko and her sister met with their parents and told them they were studying the teachings of the Unification Church.  This news disturbed her parents, so Mitsuko left.

Mitsuko's parents became involved with an anti-cult group that opposed the Unification Church.  On May 20, 1996, Mitsuko went to the driver's license bureau to renew her driver's license.  Approximately eight relatives met Mitsuko there and brought her to an apartment where she was confined against her will.

There were three special door locks in addition to a regular key lock for the door of the apartment.  The windows were specially prepared with heavy glass, and the door to the patio had a special lock that rendered it impossible to open.

A minister affiliated with the United Church of Christ of Japan, visited Mitsuko in the room several times attempting to persuade her to quit her Church.  On June 30 for the first time since her capture, Mitsuko was allowed to leave the apartment, but only escorted by her parents, an aunt, and a former church member.  After she pretended to renounce her faith, Mitsuko's parents took her to the Yamura Christian Church to meet a United Church of Christ minister.  They told her to stay there, study and be rehabilitated.

Around 11:00 p.m., after Mitsuko's parents left her to go home, she managed to escape from where she had been held in the church.  Mitsuko walked 3 hours on a country road and eventually caught a train into town.

Mitsuko telephoned her parents 3 days following her escape.  However, she soon left for the United States arriving in Washington, DC, on December 5, 1996.  She returned to Japan in March of 1997 where she stayed until returning to the United States in September of that same year.  There she participated in the Unification Church's Blessing Ceremony and met Christopher Antal.

On December 4, 1997, Mitsuko returned to Japan and started to work again as a nurse's assistant.  On May 16, 1998, around 8:30 a.m. after Mitsuko's roommate left their apartment, Mitsuko's parents came into the apartment without knocking.  Shortly, three of her uncles and an aunt arrived.  Outside were two waiting autos and other relatives, 10 in all.

Mitsuko was driven for about 3 hours to a specially prepared apartment. There she was confined for 70 days.  During this time she was subjected to harassment and abuse by another minister of the United Church of Christ who came to the apartment approximately 20 times attempting to persuade her to quit the Unification Church.  While trying to persuade her, the minister threatened her, saying that she should be in a cell with iron bars for her whole life.  On July 8 the minister hit Mitsuko in the face several times with a pillow and violently shoved her.  On July 26 Mitsuko escaped through the veranda but fell while trying to climb to the ground injuring herself in the fall but still was able to run away.

After running from the apartment, Mitsuko caught a taxi which transported her to Tokyo.  When she arrived at the Unification Church Center, Christopher Antal met her.  The following day, July 26, 1998, they went to the hospital where a doctor found that she had sustained a broken vertebrae.

On August 18 Mitsuko and Christopher registered their marriage in Japan.  They then together returned to the United States.  Sadly, as a result of the two separate confinements and forced deprogrammings, Mitsuko concluded she could not have further contact with her parents unless and until she was provided reliable assurances she would not be kidnapped, confined, and abused further.  She and her husband decided that because of the influence of the anti-cult ministers upon her family, the only guarantee against future deprogrammings was a court injunction.

On February 12, 1999, Mitsuko and her husband, Chris Antal, filed a lawsuit against the parents and the minister.  The plaintiffs invoked Article 709 of the Japan Civil Code which provides that those who violate the rights of another are liable for compensation and claimed the court should legally enjoin all defendants against further kidnapping, confinement, and forcible meeting.  On March 8, 2002, the District Court dismissed their claim.  The plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court but on December 26, 2002, the High Court dismissed their appeal.  The plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was not granted.

The High Court's decision basically followed the original judgment of the District Court.  As for the first abduction and confinement, the court found that on May 20, 1996, Mitsuko's parents and 7 relatives came to the driver's license center because a postcard regarding license renewal had come to their home.  They found that Mitsuko was met by her parents and relatives and told to come with them.  It further found that the apartment to which she had been taken had a lock, and the key was not given to Mitsuko, that she went into the bathroom for long periods of time to avoid conversations, and that on one occasion she tried to break the window with a handbag without success and subsequently attempted to break the window with a CD/radio/cassette player but was physically stopped by her parents.  The court further found that during this period of time her parents or some other relative stayed with Mitsuko constantly, and there was no occasion when she was alone.

As for the second abduction and confinement, the court found that Mitsuko's parents and relatives "strongly requested" that Mitsuko stay with them and Mitsuko reluctantly put her items in a travel bag.  The court found that there was a lock and crime prevention chain attached to the porch door and a lock placed on the door, the key to which was never given to Mitsuko.  Also, the court found that a filter was applied to the window glass to prevent the glass fragments from scattering if broken.

The court also observed that Mitsuko was hyperactive in the initial period after she arrived and that she knocked a hole in the wall of the room, refused to take meals, and locked herself inside the bathroom.  The court found that Mitsuko's parents or some other relative were always with her, and there was never an occasion when she was left alone.

The court acknowledged that on July 26, 1998, Mitsuko escaped from her confinement.  The court found that it was reasonable to assume based on the minister's admission that he had actually pushed Mitsuko's shoulders with both hands and he actually held a cushion with considerable force on her face.  In spite of its findings, the court excused the minister's conduct because, according to the court, the minister believed Mitsuko had lied to her parents and to him with regard to her and Christopher's participation in the Unification Church's Blessing Ceremony.  The court excused such conduct because the minister "felt urged to let Mitsuko understand that lying is a crime, lying betrays the trust of the person and he was trying to chasten her."  According to the court, when "Mitsuko continued her attitude of refusing to sincerely listen to him, he apparently tried to alert her so that she would listen to him."  However, the court concluded that "the acts themselves were not reasonable, but they cannot be considered unlawful acts to justify a damage claim."

In her lawsuit, Mitsuko claimed that the minister and her parents had been involved in a "conspiracy."  This was based on a letter which the minister  had sent to the plaintiff after the incident.  In that letter, the minister admitted that the parents had "visited him before the incident, talked over the matter, and all of them had the same opinion that the plaintiff would escape unless they locked her in a room."  The minister in his letter stated "it is natural to lock the room if people try to maintain a conversation with a Unification Church believer who had ever escaped from the situation of persuasion."  The District Court, however, concluded that the minister had not conspired with the parents to kidnap and confine the plaintiff to compel her to quit the Unification Church.

Mitsuko also claimed in her lawsuit that the minister has been repeatedly involved in "deprogramming" activities of Unification Church members.  The plaintiff submitted testimonies from other court cases in which the minister admitted he had been involved in persuading believers to renounce the Unification Church while they had been confined.  Mitsuko claimed that the United Church of Christ in Japan has been systematically engaging in kidnapping and "deprogramming" activities, quoting the court testimony of Minister Makoto Sugimoto who actually testified to this in another case.  However, both the District Court and the High Court denied this claim.

As for the injunctive relief requested, the District Court admitted that the parents had put the plaintiff under circumstances in which her "free psychological and physical activities were restricted."  But it found the parents' behavior to constitute only "talks" and indicated it could not guess if the parents would ever do this again, saying:

There is little likelihood the plaintiff will immigrate to Japan in the near future; and the parents engaged in the conduct based upon "parental affection," so it is "improper" to charge them with "false imprisonment" or "compulsion of renouncing faith."  Besides, their behavior cause the plaintiff to repel her parents, so they do not have any intention to intervene in the family life of the plaintiff.

This holding by the court ignored plaintiff's claim that the reason she would not immigrate to Japan was precisely because she feared her parents would repeat another kidnapping and "deprogramming."  Mitsuko's rights to physical integrity and security of persons, the right to freedom of conscience, the right of expression, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right not to be unlawfully detained were all violated in this case.

The Japanese judicial system in this and other similar cases has clearly turned a blind eye to conduct which breaches such international obligations as: (1) the obligation to ensure no one within its jurisdiction is, because of his or her religious beliefs, deprived of the right to liberty and security of person; (2) the duty to prevent discrimination on the basis of religion; (3) the obligation to provide effective remedies in cases in which the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief is violated; and (4) the obligation to counter intolerance and related violence based upon religion or belief by promoting a culture of tolerance and respect for religious diversity.

Witness Pretrial Interrogation

Yoshio Shimizu

July 11, 1996

How many people did you try to persuade to leave the church?

With regard to those whose names I can remember, there are more than 50. I do not remember accurately beyond that. There are many whose name I do not recall.

When you persuade them, do you confine the church members somewhere and persuade them, don’t you?

What is the actual situation?

In the al situation, I make it the condition that the family prepares the environment.

What is the definition of confinement? Such as locking windows, hiding shoes, and so on and so forth. Or continuing to watch.

It is case by case

You mean there are cases like that?

There are cases like that.

You cannot persuade them without resorting to those means?

There are cases that I cannot.

Isn’t that illegal?

I do not consider that to be illegal.

Attorney for the defendant (Hayakawa)

The other attorney touched on this briefly in his questioning, but you mentioned that you had caused about 50 members of the Unification Church to leave the church, don’t you?

There are that many whose names I can recall.

Then, which is more between the cases in which you tried to persuade them but they escaped and the cases in which you succeeded to persuade and cause them to leave the church?

There are more cases in which I succeeded to persuade them.

Then, with regard to the methods of persuasion, do you criticize the church doctrine of the Divine Principle?

In case the church doctrine is clearly a lie, I have to clearly deny it.

You talk to them that the church doctrine is wrong, don’t you?

Yes, that is correct.

Then, do you also criticize Rev. Sun Myung Moon who is the church founder?

Of course, I do.

Then, do you also criticize the activities of the Unification Church?

Of course, I do.

That means that you sometimes yell and swear at them?

I do in some cases.

Before you start persuading them you give an orientation, don’t you?

What do you mean by an orientation?

I mean, the parents of the church members or some ones consult you in the beginning.

There is a consultation.

Consultation to make members leave?


Don’t you first prepare the place to bring the church members to and keep them in?

If the people who consult me have real will to rescue them.

You sometimes prepare those, don’t you?

If they have will, naturally those have to be prepared.

Aren’t there cases in which you are consulted about what kind of places should be secured?

There are.

What advice do you give in such cases?

I advise them to secure the environment in which the member can think with free will. However, I set out the condition
that the place must not be found by the Unification Church absolutely.

Does that mean that the place should be in the remote mountain?

There might be place that is remote. However, it needs to be convenient for me too. I don’t like to go out of my way
to travel to a remote place. There was a reference to Miyazaki earlier, but I cannot go to Miyazaki frequently.

Aren’t there cases in which a room is secured in a condominium building?

In case it is better to do that, that is done depending on the family’s will.

Aren’t there cases in which the room is tailored in advance to prevent someone from escaping from the windows?

There are. As I said earlier, there are cases in which there is no choice but to do that if necessary. …

What modifications are made to the windows if necessary?

Modifications are made to prevent the windows from opening.

What modifications are made specifically?

I let the family to think about that.

Aren’t there cases in which you make the modifications?

If there is no other choice. For example, if the family is in an emergency situation. There are cases in which I have to do that out of kindness although I do not want to do that.

You have done it, don’t you?


What did you do?

I made the window unopenable.

What tools did you use?

In order to make the window sash unopenable, I buy a sash latch.

Conversation between Kesuke Ishikawa and Yukiko Ishikawa

February 19, 1999 after 8 PM

Yukiko:            Just listen, dad. Dad and others turned the key on, didn’t you?

Kesuke:            We turned the key on, for what purpose? I want Yukiko to know that by reading the book.

Kesuke:            No, no, Yukiko. We turned the key on because there was a key. I am feeling pain in my heart. You have to apologize to your dad.

Kesuke:            … If Mitsuko promises not to escape, I would tell her to come back to the house where she was born even now unabashed. I will not turn any key on.

Kesuke:            The reason why I turned the key on, dad turned the key on was because I heard about various past cases in which they all escaped. …

Kesuke:            … Honestly speaking, Mitsuko tried to escape from the place in Tachikawa by breaking the glass. What would have happened if she did that from the 5-story building? Someone with common sense would not do such thing. Dad told her that I would turn the key off anytime if she does not escape. …

Kesuke:            … The minister asked me to make sure Mitsuko does not escape. Rev. Shimizu said he could not take responsibility so he wanted Ishikawa family to make sure.

Yukiko:            After all, it means you consulted him.

Kesuke:            What? Actually, Mitsuko escaped.

Kesuke:            Mitsuko escaped. Yukiko, why does she escape? Dad was worried so much and turned off the key. She escaped from there. Why does she escape?

Kesuke:            … She went to America, and I can’t provide her with any protection. …

Letter from Shimazu to Mitsuko Antal

November 24, 2000

II. On the one who initiated consultations with the family

I made an objective judgment that you will escape without the door key turned on. …

I made my judgment that you will escape and deceive. That turned out to be true exactly. Your parents made the same judgment as I. … I made my own judgment based on the background I heard from your parents and my experience of being a former Unification Church member and interviewing many Unification Church members. It was my judgment that you will escape and you will lie again. … With regard to the importance of the apartment key, your parents recognize necessity of it. It is based on your words and behaviors. You were no longer trusted. You are not trusted now either. You should not forget that your parents made judgment on the necessity of the door key as the result of your past record of being a liar. Therefore, what should be done to continue discussions with a person who continues to lie and who had experience of deceiving parents to escape? The answer is obvious. It will be a different story if there are enough manpower and physical strength to watch 24 hours to prevent you from escaping. If that is the case, they have to watch 24 hours to prevent you from escaping. That is because you are told to escape and come back. But your parents did not have those helpers and physical strength. I think it is natural and inevitable act of self defense to choose the means of a key.

III. On “three times” and “pushed the shoulders and hit the face with a cushion”

Your letter says “three times” but it is a lie that is not a fact according to my memory and your parents’ memory.


At least, I admit that my action of pushing your shoulders to alert you reflected my candid feeling in response to your lies. That is because I consider lying as a crime.


I urged you to “listen to your parents well.” My action that you describe as “pushing the shoulders” is the action at that time.


“It says three times but that is not true.”  (Kesuke Ishikawa)

IV. On the allegation of “shouting ‘Stay behind iron bars for the rest of your life’ at the apartment in Gunma.”

This is something that took place well before.  …

V. On the matter of injury

You describe as if I was responsible for the fact that you jumped from the second floor and got injured, but you should not shift your responsibility to others.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2010 18:13