The horrendous ordeal Toru Goto suffered during more than 12 years of forcible detention
The fifth part of the large report in the December 2023 issue of Seiron (正論) with the title “Doubts about the Request for a Dissolution Order”.
The Japanese monthly opinion magazine Seiron (正論) published in its December 2023 issue a feature article on the vicious persecution of the Family Federation (formerly the Unification Church) in Japan.
Two parts of the report by Makiko Takita, well known journalist and editor-in-chief of the magazine, contain an interview with Toru Goto, victim of horrible abuse during more than a decade of forcible detention.
Bitter Winter published this part of the report of Seiron on 23rd January 2024, as the fifth of six parts of the English version of the original Japanese feature article. Read the whole Bitter Winter article. More on article 1, article 2, article 3, article 4, article 6.
This 5th article was titled “The Tragic Reality of Deprogramming, Part I”. It delves into the harrowing experience of Toru Goto, who was forcibly confined for over twelve years as part of an attempt to coerce him out of the Unification Church. The piece, penned by Makiko Takita, features an interview with Goto, who serves as the Representative of the National Association of Victims of Abduction, Confinement, and Forced Conversion.
Goto recounts his ordeal, which began in 1995 when he was abducted by his own family members, including his parents, brother, and sister, and detained for an extended period in various locations, primarily in an apartment near JR Ogikubo Station in Tokyo. He explains that the motive behind his prolonged confinement was his affiliation with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, formerly known as the Unification Church. He reveals that his family’s actions were orchestrated with the involvement of faith-breakers and ex-members specialized in coercing individuals to leave the church.
The narrative unfolds with Goto’s brother initially being targeted for deprogramming after joining the Unification Church in 1986. Subsequently, Goto himself was coerced into leaving the church through manipulation and confinement from October 1986.
“I was so angry at being tricked and locked up that I started screaming in the bathroom, ‘Get me out of here!’ But they dragged me out and started a scuffle, helped by my father and brother, and they seized me. After a few days, the situation had not changed at all, and I decided to falsely pretend that I was leaving the church. I was released from the hotel when I said, ‘I have found out that the Unification Church is wrong.’
But this time, I was moved to a small apartment in Tokyo. There were food and toilet facilities, but other than that, my parents and brother were always watching me, and there was no way to escape. There was no telephone or television. I was completely cut off from the outside world and was not even allowed to go outside.”
He managed however to escape in late November after feigning apostasy. Still, Goto was abducted a second time eight years later and this time he remained captive for more than 12 years, enduring psychological and physical abuse at the hands of his family and deprogrammers led by a figure identified as Mr. M in the Seiron article. [Toru Goto had earlier stated it was Takashi Miyamura (宮村峻)].
Goto remembers it very well,
“It was September 11, 1995. When I returned home for the first time in a while, my father said, ‘Toru, I need to talk to you.’ The friendly atmosphere changed drastically, and he said, ‘As a family member, I just can’t leave Toru alone. Let’s go somewhere else.’
As the back-and-forth with the family continued, my brother and sister-in-law said, ‘Let’s go.’ Then my brother and father held both sides of me. Surrounded by my family on all sides, men I had never seen before appeared, and I was forcibly taken away in a car and once again imprisoned in an apartment. All the windows were fitted with security locks called wind-locks, which could not be opened from the inside. I can say that I was completely cut off from the outside world.”
Throughout his captivity, Goto faced relentless pressure to renounce his beliefs and was subjected to continuous indoctrination sessions aimed at undermining his faith. He describes the oppressive conditions of his confinement, including being isolated from the outside world, denied basic amenities, and subjected to verbal and physical assaults.
The article sheds light on the systematic nature of forced deprogramming orchestrated by Takashi Miyamura, who collaborated with parents and Christian pastors to abduct and confine individuals affiliated with the Unification Church. Despite the illegality of such practices in other countries, including the United States, they persisted in Japan until Goto’s legal victory against Miyamura in 2005.
Goto’s testimony exposes the profound violation of human rights inherent in the practice of deprogramming and underscores the urgent need for legal intervention to protect individuals from such abuses. His account serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of coercive tactics employed against religious minorities and the imperative of safeguarding religious freedom and individual autonomy.
Continued in part 6.
Featured image above: How Toru Goto was treated. Illustration: Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion
Text: Knut Holdhus
Read Toru Goto’s own account of his ordeals: Heroic Battle Against Evil Japanese Practise
More on forcible detention: Japan: 4300 Abductions and Forcible Detentions
Even more on forcible detention: Parents Pay for Activism of Pastors and Lawyers
Still more on forcible detention: Forcibly Medicated to Break His Faith
Yet more on forcible detention: Japan Criticized for Glaring Rights Violations
And still more on forcible detention: Police Turns Blind Eye to Forcible Detention