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I was admitted to the hospital around 2:00 am on February 11, 2008. I was unable to walk as I had acute pain in my knees when I tried to stand up. I had to use a wheelchair until the end of the month. Then I started to use a walker. Around March 4, 2008, I started to use both a walker and crutches. Around March 10, I started to use a cane, but I was not recovered enough to go up or down stairs. My rehabilitation continued, and I was discharged from the hospital on March 31. However, I could not run or walk fast. If I walked for 30 minutes for shopping, I felt pain in my knees and ankles, and I had muscle aches in my thigh and calf on the following day.
I could sit cross-legged on a floor. I could not sit (in the Japanese way) with my legs tucked under me, as I had pains in my ankles. Even now, three years after my release, I feel a sense of discomfort if I sit in the Japanese way. Also, after leaving the hospital, I couldn’t get up from the cross-legged position unless my body was supported by my arms touching the floor. I strongly feel that the 12-year confinement and the damage to my knees by walking on February 10 have affected my physical state even after leaving the hospital.
A few days after I was admitted to the hospital, I suffered from gastroenteritis and had persistent diarrhea. It seemed that the resistance of my internal organs was down due to the protracted confinement. I hardly saw an outside view during the 12 years and 5 months’ confinement. After the light bulb of the table lamp blew at the beginning of 2006, I had to read without the lamp as my captors did not replace the bulb. Also they stopped providing eye drops. My eyesight was 1.5 before the confinement, but it had dropped to 0.2 at the time of my release from confinement. Before the confinement, I could drive without corrective lenses. I can’t drive without glasses now. Of course, my driver’s license had expired, so I had to start all over again from scratch to get a license.
Two days later after my hospitalization, a journalist, Mr. Kazuhiro Yonemoto, visited me in the hospital. I recounted the story of the confinement to him, and I accepted his request to take some photos of me for the interview. The next day, Mr. Yonemoto visited the Ogikugo Sunflower Home (the confinement apartment), and also visited Miyamura’s home for an interview. Miyamura came out and Mr. Yonemoto could talk to him for a short while. According to Mr. Yonemoto, Miyamura admitted that he visited the confinement apartment to convert me. Also Miymura said to Mr. Yonemoto, “It was because Goto did fasting” in relation to the malnutrition due to abuses from family members (see Kazuhiro Yonemoto’s statement, dated March 5, 2008). It was April 2004 when I started my hunger strike. Miyamura’s last visit to me in the apartment was in February 2001. It is very clear that Miyamura had constant contact with my family and continued to conspire to confine me.
I had no choice but to carry out hunger strikes in order to pursue being released from confinement. If I did not go on hunger strikes three times, risking my life (21 days in 2004, 21 days in 2005 and 30 days in 2006), I would not have been released. If they had resumed normal meals after the hunger strike in April 2006, my weight would have been back to normal when I was released on February 10, 2008, which was one year and 11 months after the hunger strike.
I would like to add that I attended the Unification Church’s wedding ceremony in September 2008 after the release and got married. As my wife did not have brothers and the family had no heir, I decided to change to my wife’s surname, which is Iwamoto. I now feel some happiness, to get married and settle down in my 40s after such a long time.
Japan guarantees religious freedom. Such acts as confining me for 12 years and 5 months to make me leave the church, hurling criticism collectively at me, making me suffer physically and mentally and forcing me to abandon my faith are nothing but tortures and must not be tolerated. What kind of crime did I commit to deserve 12 years and 5 months in confinement? My elder brother and his wife chose by their free will to become Unification Church members and had faith in the Unification Church. After they left the church, they lied by claiming that they were forced to join the church against their will and forced to get involved with the church activities. Then they filed a lawsuit called the “Lost Youth Compensation Case” against the Unification Church and won compensation from the church.
In comparison to that, I was confined in a small room from the age of 31 until I was 44. They deprived me of not only my freedom of religion, freedom of marriage, freedom of choice in employment, freedom of movement and freedom of the vote, but they denied and violated my human dignity. They spoiled my precious life. I continued to receive criticism, smears and defamations that denied my humanity, and also violence to maintain the confinement. I received the torture of food sanctions, and I was continuously forced to decide whether to withdraw from the church.
I could not only not receive any medical checkups, but I was not even allowed to go to a doctor with a high fever. I was not released even when I almost starved to death. I have never heard of such crimes. But my family members and Miyamura are unrepentant and poised to evade responsibility by saying, for example, “I didn’t know that the front door of the apartment was locked by a padlock.”
The more I experienced cruel and brutal treatment from the captors, the more I was convinced that Miyamura and my family members were evil creatures. In spite of physical and mental abuses during the 12 years and 5 months of confinement, one of the reasons I didn’t lose my faith was that I was determined not to join such an evil group, even at the brink of death. And also I was filled with a sense of responsibility that I had to reveal these evil human rights violations to the public.
I would like to ask you to judge fairly and wish that you raise an alarm against the forcible deprogramming practices that are occurring even now, carried out by the deprogrammers, including Matsunaga and Miyamura. I wish not only for my personal relief but that these human rights violations in forcible conversion practices cease.