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Disappearance of Japanese Believer Raises Fears Of Abduction and Forced Religious Conversion PDF Print E-mail

GREENBELT, MD, January 18, 2012--A 34-year old Japanese woman missing since January 3 has likely been abducted and is being held against her will to force her to abandon her religious faith, the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (ICRF) reports. Ms. “N.I.” is a member of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (UC), thousands of whose members have been victimized by relatives who confine them in secret locations as part of forced conversion attempts.

A graduate of the law faculty at Meiji Gakuin University in 2000, Ms. N.I. has been missing since January 3 of this year after failing to return from a visit to her grandmother’s house. She joined the UC, which remains highly controversial in Japan, in 1998. However, like many Japanese Unificationists, she kept her affiliation secret, fearing job discrimination and her family’s disapproval. She informed her father about her church membership in 2007, when she quit her job to work full time for the church. He seemed supportive, but she did not tell her mother about it until 2011.

“We suspect her parents were upset by her engagement to a Korean man, a fellow Unificationist, whom she planned to marry in a church ceremony this spring,” explained ICRF president Dan Fefferman. “Unificationists often marry beyond racial or national boundaries, and a significant number of these abductions result from Japanese parents refusing to accept the right of a UC member to marry a foreigner.”

A friend reported that on the morning of January 3, Ms. N.I. called her to say she was going to visit her grandparents’ house. At 6:30 p.m. that day, the friend received an e-mail from N.I.’s cellphone saying, “Now I am in Mito [her parents’ hometown] and cannot return today.  I am with my family.”  Concerned for her safety and freedom, three church members visited her parents’ home at 10:30 p.m. that day. Her sister answered the door and said, “My sister is not here. She must be in her grandparents’ house in Omiya City.  Our parents are there, too.  It’s a family issue. She is safe.  Please go away.”

In a related development, the international human rights organization Human Rights Without Frontiers has issued an independent study confirming the fact that the Japanese police and government have done little to protect the rights of Unificationists threatened with forced conversion.

"The failure to provide the victims of such kidnappings with equal protection under the law, and the impunity of those responsible, constitute a serious violation of the Japanese people's constitutionally guaranteed rights and the international human rights standards to which Japan is legally bound," stated Willy Fautre, director of the Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers.

For the full report see: www.hrwf.org/Joom/images/reports/2011/1231%20report%20final.pdf

(Out of respect for her privacy we are not releasing the current victim’s full name, but accredited researchers and law enforcement agencies may learn additional details by contacting ICRF.)