Posted on | November 19, 2010 | No Comments
After months of requests to meet with the Japanese government, human rights advocates and religious leaders saw the first sign of a breakthrough in Boston. A delegation of demonstrators, part of a 10-city rally, were invited to meet with the Deputy Consul General on November 16.
This meeting came as a result of coordinated demonstrations in 10 major cities from New York to Seattle to rally against the continued inaction by Japanese government to stop the abuse and discrimination of minority religious believers in that country. In three other cities, delegates met with the Consul General himself or the Acting Consul General. However, delegates were turned away from the Japanese consulate in several other cities and had received an official refusal to meet with New York City’s Consul General, Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya, on October 20.
Since 1966, more than 4,000 members of the Unification Church of Japan have been illegally confined by “faith-breakers” in an attempt to force them leave the religion which they, as adults, freely chose to join. Currently, 10 to 20 Unificationists in Japan are abducted each year. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force, prison-like conditions, and intense pressure to change his or her faith. There have been reports of beatings, starvation, and rape.
“We are thankful that our message is being heard by official representatives Japan,” said Dan Fefferman, President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. “However the refusal of Japan’s senior diplomats to even discuss this matter is inexcusable. The Japanese government has ignored these human rights violations long enough. It is time to stop the abductions and let our people go.”
The U.S. State Department has mentioned the issue of Japanese inaction to stop religious abductions in its Annual International Religious Freedom Report nearly every year since 2002. Several U.S. Congressmen have also raised the issue with Japan’s ambassador in Washington D.C.
Letters were hand-delivered to the Japanese Consulate in each of the 10-cities requesting their support and an audience with the Consul General. The coordinated 10-city demonstrations included:
- Los Angeles
- New York
- San Francisco
Human rights leaders hope to raise awareness at the local level and incite action at the national level. The demonstrations sent a very strong message to the Japanese government and to Japanese deprogrammers that America will not stand for human rights abuse.