A look behind the scenes into an ugly world where lawyers and deprogrammers scheme together
Part 3 of the amazing story of medical doctor Hirohisa Koide
The role of the lawyers
After that, the lawyers Kito and Yamaguchi appeared on the scene. They were brought to Niigata by deprogrammer Takashi Miyamura, and they were remarkable. Lawyer Hirata [Hiroshi Hirata] visited the place of confinement, but lawyers Kito [Masaki Kito] and Yamaguchi [Hiroshi Yamaguchi] were very smart. They did not show up the place of confinement at all. [They tried not to be connected to the crime. Yamaguchi was from the former Socialist Party and founded National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (Zenkoku Benren) in 1987 in order to destroy the Unification Church. Kito joined the network after a while.]
My father, Miyamura, and I went to a joint law firm in Niigata. And we were introduced to them there. After that, Takashi Miyamura, my father, and I drove back and forth to Tokyo with one bodyguard. Then they told me, “Suing the hospital where you used to work is taking responsibility. You have to take responsibility. Take responsibility.”
Then I wondered,
“They thought that I had gone crazy. Therefore, I have been locked up, haven’t I? Suddenly they talk about responsibility. Something is strange here. These people locked me up because they think I am crazy.”
They said to me,
“If you don’t believe in the church, you have the responsibility to sue them. You have no other responsibility but suing that church-related organization.”
And it was not only of me they demanded this. They did not talk just to me. In 1993 there were lawsuits the lawyers called “Give me back my youth” in Niigata City. There were also monthly meetings about it there [to prepare new ex-members for such cases]. I and five or six other persons were always locked up in the Niigata area, in [what was then] Niitsu City. If someone said, “I’ve left the Church, I’ve left,” they would be made to say that at a meeting. It was “rehabilitation”. And the kidnappers thought that it was “rehabilitation” to have ex-believers sue the Church.
At that time, about 50 people had already participated in the [meetings preparing new ex-members for] “Give me back my youth” court cases. But only about five of them actually showed up in court. The actual plaintiffs [who appeared in court] were not so enthusiastic, not very passionate. The pastors and deprogrammers told them that it was their responsibility now to sue the Church. Once they agreed to do that, they no longer had the freedom to refuse to sue.
And above all, something was really frightening about study groups in some Christian churches. If someone’s son or daughter said that he or she was doing something unusual, such as joining an unfamiliar religion, the parents would become concerned and look for someone to consult with.
When you say, “Christian church”, doesn’t that sound a little reassuring? Ordinary people think that Christians don’t do anything bad. It is of course a bit of an exaggeration to say that they are yakuza [gangsters, someone involved in a Mafia-like criminal organization]. And if there is such a beautiful Christian church, everyone will trust it a bit. And what do they do there? They show you videos, and some ex-believers talk to you, and they say, “Oh, if you were in such a Unification Church, your life would be miserable. You would go crazy.” And they keep going on and on about it and convince people / parents that the only way to get you to quit your faith is to lock you up.
If parents to some degree think they have to lock up their son or daughter, then that’s it. There is a 2-day seminar [for them]. When I went to a 2-day seminar, there was practical training included. I played one role – the enthusiastic believer.
When asked what kind of attitude the parents should have when their son or daughter is locked up, the parents would say, “My son, you have to stop!” A former believer would then say, “You can’t tell him to stop like that, father. I would not hurt the feelings of a believer in that kind of way.” They would continue to do this mock training all the way through until they decided on X-Day [day to take action and do the abduction]. They even had the parents and relatives make a schedule where the X-day was determined.
How they treat believers
I could go with that pastor to prepare a place of confinement. It was done by the pastor. The windows were locked with a special gadget to make sure they could not be opened. I could hardly believe that a pastor would do such a thing. He would also be the guard at the place where a believer would be confined by his or her relatives. This was really painful for me to watch. Just in this one case [I watched], just one night, he would let in about 10 or 15 relatives, really that scrum around the believer. He or she would be brought in while the crowd would be screaming and shouting all around him or her.
It’s really kidnapping people, just like the title of my book says [“Escape from Kidnapping”]. I was there, and so I told the pastor, “It’s a successful lock-up.” He said, “It’s almost a success.” But it’s definitely confinement, no matter how you look at it.
I was also present at a place of deprogramming. I am a believer who was confined in that way.
There was actually a board next to the pastor’s room with a list of five or six names on it. So, everyone talked about it and asked, “Who’s going today?” And If it was for rehabilitation, they would make me go. But once I was there, I was having nightmares every night. Even now, when I decided to come to this symposium, I had nightmares again. That’s how painful it is for those who were locked up. They were really in pain. Even one day was painful. It was a really painful experience for me too. My true desire now is for people who have gone through such experiences, to get better, even if just a little.
However, both Pastor Matsunaga and Attorney Kito believe that they have done the best thing possible.
Kito appears on TV and looks very dignified. He is convinced that he is doing something great. I think he believes that he is a hero who does things that no one else does.
It is actually really difficult to use brute force to destroy someone’s belief. There is a saying, “In times of trouble ask for God’s help!” I couldn’t even do that. If you belong to a faith, you are told that also praying is a superstition.
It was so hard and so difficult that I think it would have been easier to have my head cut off. I was denied even the world of prayer, and told that I’m delusional. It’s really painful to have all of my religious experiences reduced to delusions, and to have my loved ones force me to go through this deprogramming. I believe that the 4,300 persons [the number of members of the Family Federation abducted and subjected to deprogramming] are still suffering and being hurt. Those people who were mentioned earlier may not be able to regain their sense of security, safety and self-confidence.
I am currently doing medical service at Angkor Wat [in Cambodia]. There, you can see such a Buddha statue that has been decapitated. (Showing a photo.)
It is written about it in Masaki Kito’s book. A deprogrammer (exit counselor) says that the moment a Buddha statue is broken, and the moment a person renounces the faith, is the most satisfying moment of his life. The deprogrammer says that the moment when believers abandon what they believe in is the greatest joy for him.
Featured image above: From the front cover of the 1996 version of Hirohisa Koide’s book “Escape from Kidnapping”. Published by Kogensha. New edition in 2023.
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