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Press Release About Media Attacks

Press conference Tokyo 4th October 2023

In response to recent media attacks by activist journalist, the Family Federation issued press release

Family Federation victim of media attacks
From the header of, the official homepage of the Family Federation of Japan.

The Family Federation of Japan issued a press release on 5th October 2023, concerning many recent media attacks by anti-religious activist journalist Eito Suzuki. He appears to spearhead a media campaign to paint a black picture of the Family Federation and its members.

Here is an English translation of the press release,

“Toru Goto, who was abducted and confined for 12 years and 5 months, files suit against Eito Suzuki for defamation.

Family Federation of Japan press release 5th October 2023

On 4th October 2023, Toru Goto, president of the Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion, filed a suit in Tokyo District Court against journalist Eito Suzuki, seeking 11 million yen in damages and other compensation for defamation caused by his comments and defamatory statements.

Toru Goto in 2008
Toru Goto in 2008 after being held in forcible detention by deprogrammers for more than 12 years, barely able to move. Photo: Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion

Goto was forcibly detained in an apartment in Tokyo for 12 years and 5 months (11th September 1995 to 10th February 2008). He was under duress to rescind his membership, but kept his faith until the end. After being released from confinement, a lawsuit was filed against the ‘professional deprogrammer’ and Goto’s familiy for damages. On 13th November 2014, Tokyo High Court confirmed that the confinement had in fact taken place, and ordered the ‘professional deprogrammer’ to pay a total of 22 million yen in damages. The Supreme Court confirmed this sentence on 29th September 2015, confirming that Toru Goto had won the case.

Eito Suzuki
Eito Suzuki, born as Kiyofumi Tanaka. Photo: Mikkabie / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 4.0 Int. Cropped

Despite the above facts, Eito Suzuki wrote on his blog Yaya Nikkan Cult Newspaper and described Goto as ‘a male believer who stays in his flat and has become a NEET [Not in Education, Employment, or Training] after recuperation, turning into a mere recluse.’

Suzuki repeatedly made defamatory remarks, such as commenting on Yomiuri TV’s information program Jouho Live Miyaneya that Goto was a ‘recluse’ (引きこもり – hiki komori). Goto is asking Suzuki to delete the article from his blog and pay 11 million yen as compensation.

At a media briefing held after the press conference in Tokyo, Goto said, ‘There are women who committed suicide during abduction and confinement, and women who were raped. Eito Suzuki’s comments are dangerous words and actions that will encourage the recurrence of abduction and confinement and create a real crisis.’

Besides, Attorney Shinichi Tokunaga, representing the plaintiff, pointed out, ‘It will be difficult for Eito Suzuki to win with his statement of recluse (hiki komori), unless the Supreme Court overturns its own previous verdicts.’

Attorney Tatsuki Nakayama, another representative of the plaintiff, said, ‘Victims of abduction and confinement are not a thing of the past. I hope that from this trial the Japanese society will start to broadly realize the fact that 4300 members of the Family Federation (the former Unification Church) became victims of abduction and confinement.’”

Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion

Japanese victims association
From one of the pages of the website of the Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion.

On the website of Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion, founded in 2010, it is described how ruse, violence and coercion were used against the victims during the kidnapping. They had their communication with the outside world cut off, while so-called deprogrammers worked intensely to break down the victims’ faith and kept them confined until they eventually would renounce their faith.

The renowned British sociologist Eileen Barker writes,

Eileen Barker
Dr. Eileen Barker, OBE, in 1997. Photo: LSE Library / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

“Numerous testimonies by those who were subjected to a deprogramming describe how they were threatened with a gun, beaten, denied sleep and food and / or sexually assaulted.” (Watching for Violence, paper by Eileen Barker, 2001)

The majority of the victims in Japan are followers of the Unification Church, a total of over 4,300. The main perpetrators include Christian pastors, who saw the Unification Church / Family Federation as a “heretical” faith, and lawyers and journalists who are hostile to the Family Federation and the Victory over Communism movement.

The kidnappers have profited grossly from painting a black picture of new religious movements and portraying them as dangerous. Groups that have resorted to kidnapping and forced conversion were at the same time very successful in getting the mass media on their side.

British tabloids
Some of the scandal press – British tabloids 5th July 2011. Photo: Bobbie Johnson / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 2.0 Gen. Cropped

In the media world there is a scandal press, which is mainly concerned with making money, not necessarily telling the truth. There are many self-proclaimed “experts” on new religious movements, who know that there is money to be made by portraying such movements as bad as possible.

The so-called “experts” know that there are countless journalists with little insight into the great diversity in the religious world. Then it is easy to lump everyone together and make wild claims such as: “All cult leaders are interested in three things – power, money and sex.” As if this is what all new faith movements are after. The spiritual message is not interesting at all, because it’s all about power, money and sex. This is of course a perfect message for the scandal press.

This is of course also a perfect message for groups that oppose new religious movements. Such movements are made into as big a problem as possible. It is absolutely necessary for the group that opposes them to make money. It lives by spreading disinformation and false claims about new religious movements. The truth is constantly twisted, so that it suits the interests of the group as much as possible.

According to Toru Goto, many of the victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is even difficult for them to talk about the kidnapping, forcible detention and forced conversion they experienced. That is why the association for victims was established.

Featured image above: From press conference in Tokyo 4th October 2023, featuring Toru Goto (center). Photo: FFWPU Japan 

“Press Release About Media Attacks” – text: Knut Holdhus

More about media attacks: Pure Activism in Japanese Media

Even more about media attacks: Japan: Threat to Religious Freedom

More media attacks: Kidnapping Victim Sues Activist Journalist


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