Posted on | November 30, 2010 | No Comments
A member of the Unification Church in Japan is missing and believed to have been abducted because of her religious beliefs, the International Coalition for Religious Freedom announced today. Ms. AY has been reported missing under the probability of abduction and attempted forced conversion in Japan, the coalition said. Her fiancé, Mr. Takafumi Fukuzaki, has filed a report with the police requesting an immediate investigation and said that Ms. AY was fearful for her safety to the extent that she previously filed a letter with the Unification Church, “requesting rescue in case of disappearance.”
“My fiancée and I feared this day would come when one of us was abducted in
Japan and held against our will because of religious beliefs,” said Mr. Fukuzaki. “I am deeply concerned about the safety of my fiancée and her freedom.” Church officials in Japan conveyed that police were unresponsive to Mr. Fukuzaki’s pleas for help, taking the word of other relatives that she was “safe” despite her own letter requesting aid.
According to the State Department’s International Freedom Report 2010, “For several years deprogrammers working with family members have reportedly abducted Unification Church members…” This includes a Unificationist who was released in 2008 “after reportedly being held against his will by family members and a professional deprogrammer for over 12 years.”
“These abductions are normally carried out by relatives who confine the victim indefinitely while professionals pressure them to renounce their faith,” said Dan Fefferman, President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. “Japanese police usually refuse to intervene despite the strict laws against forced abductions and kidnappings, particularly of adults. Law enforcement agencies in other developed nations including the United States have long recognized that religious abductions are dangerous, illegal, and not tolerated.”
Ms. AY is one of an estimated 4,300 members of the Unification Church of Japan who has been subjected to human rights violations over the past 40 years. Between 10 to 20 Unification Church members are currently abducted each year in Japan to undergo forced de-conversions. 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. As frustration of Japan’s inaction mounts, victims have been increasingly speaking out on the abduction issue.