- Donald Rumsfeld has ‘no idea’ if he paid taxes correctly
- Bradley Manning named honorary grand marshal of San Francisco Pride parade
- Look out PayPal: Facebook working toward mobile payments system
- U.S. rebukes Iran’s U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- Stoned mom avoids jail after driving 12 miles with baby on roof
- More than 100 ‘inappropriate’ encounters between NYC school staffers, students since 2009: report
- Joe Biden to Boston bombing survivors: ‘America will never, ever stand down’
- FBI failed to throughly vet Boston bombing suspect after Russian lead, report finds
- Atlanta Braves flooded with Hank Aaron hate mail: He’s a ‘scumbag’
- University: Help, our campus is too white
Japanese man wins landmark lawsuit on religious oppression
A Japanese man who had been kidnapped by family members and subjected to violent attempts to renounce his religion has won a court ruling against his captors, an outcome religious freedom advocates applaud while saying more needs to done to stop religious oppression in Japan.
“My heartfelt wish is that this will be of help in eradicating kidnapping and confinement,” Mr. Goto, 50, said during a news conference in Tokyo. “With the opportunity provided by this victory, I hope that Japan, which guarantees freedom and human rights, can at least become a country where people do not have to fear daily being kidnapped and confined because of their faith.”
A spokesman for the Unification Church said Thursday that the verdict is welcome news. Michael Balcomb, president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in the United States, said it “brings the Unification Church in Japan one step closer to closing the sad chapter on forced conversions.”
Last year, the U.S. Committee on International Religious Freedom cited Japan’s judicial system for turning a blind eye to the kidnapping and forced deprogramming of people in the Unification Church and other “new religious movements” over the past several decades.
“In some extreme cases, as with Unification Church member Toro [sic] Goto, individuals were confined against their will for a decade or more,” the committee said in its 2013 report. “Those abducted describe psychological harassment and physical abuse by both family members and ‘professional deprogrammers.’ Police and judicial authorities have neither investigated nor indicted those responsible for these acts, often citing lack of evidence.”
Scott Flipse, the committee’s deputy director of policy, expressed pleasure Thursday with outcome of the Goto case, saying the panel hopes “his judgment sends the signal that forced renunciations of faith cannot continue with impunity.”
The Japanese Embassy and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment. However, the State Department cited Japan for inaction in religious oppression cases such as Mr. Goto’s in its 2010 International Religious Freedom Report.
The Washington Times was founded by the Unification Church in 1982, and now operates independently of the Church.
Mr. Goto filed a lawsuit against his brother, sister and sister-in-law, as well as professional deprogrammer Takashi Miyamur, and Yasutomo Matsunaga, a Christian minister. All but Mr. Matsunaga were found liable.
Dan Fefferman, president of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom, said the ruling is important because “the top deprogrammer in Japan was held culpable in a court of law. That’s important because makes it difficult for him to operate.”
“It’s a very important case because it’s very rare for a court to find in favor of victims of deprogramming in Japan,” he added.
Freedom Rights Project co-founder Aaron Rhodes, called the court’s $47,000 reward “paltry,” but said it was an important first step.
“Finally the Japanese judicial system is waking up to religious discrimination and a bit more ready to act despite taboos that have no place in a democracy.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Meredith Somers is a Metro reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Feeling taxed today? How about a prayer to St. Matthew?
- 'Matzah Factory' provides hands-on experience for learning about Passover
- Higher Ground: Sex Pistol Superstar
- Younger generations lead move as Americans lose faith in the Bible, poll shows
- Jesuits mourn well-loved priest, murdered in Syria
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Kirsten Dunst: Actress sparks feminist ire: 'You need a man to be a man'
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- PHILLIPS: What did Harry Reid know and when did he know it?
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes