SF Rally Against Japan Abductions of Unification Church Members

With shouts of “Stop Japan Abductions!” and “Protect Human Rights & Religious Freedom!” a group of 25 people held a rally in front of the downtown offices of the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco.
Sponsored by the Coalition to Stop Japan Abductions, the Tuesday rally joined similar rallies taking place that day in major cities across the U.S. calling for the government of Japan to stop the practice of relatives of Unification Church members in Japan abducting, confining, torturing, and in some cases raping church members to forcibly try to break their faith.
Some 4,300 Unification Church members in Japan are reported to have been abducted and held in this way over the past four decades.
Bishop Andre Jackson, Co-Chairman of the American Clergy Leadership Conference in Northern California and Senior Pastor of Carriage Hills Community Church in Richmond, CA, read a letter addressed to the Honorable Hiroshi Inomata, Consul General of Japan, detailing the religious and human rights abuses in Japan and calling for them to stop.
“Mr. Consul General,” Bishop Jackson read aloud, “these cases remind those of us who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of the situation in which the U.S. Attorney General had a good policy, but local and state authorities turned a blind eye to the persecution of Americans in the South.
“However, in Japan, your justice system is more unified, and there is no excuse for not enforcing the law. All that is lacking is the will of national authorities to make it clear to local police and prosecutors that the laws must be enforced…We need to be assured that steps are being taken to remedy the situation.”
One horrific story cited was that of Mr. Toru Goto, who was held against his will for 12.5 years, starting at age 31. Subjected to an intensive attempt to break his faith, he was not allowed to go outside to exercise and had lost half his body weight when he was finally released. However, criminal charges against the perpetrators of his abduction and confinement were dropped for an alleged lack of evidence in December of last year.
Tetsuya Iwata, Consul in charge of General Affairs, came outside to meet with the rally group, listened carefully to their concerns, and said he was well aware of the situation in Japan and promised he would present the letter and information to Consul Inomata.
Other speakers at the rally included Rev. Alain LeRoy, American Clergy Leadership Conference Northern California Coordinator, Michael Kellett, a local Unification Church member who told the story of his own kidnapping experience of relatives trying to break his faith, and Bill Bechtel, an elder of the Bay Area Family Church, a local ministry of the Unification Church of America.
“All we’re asking for is that our Japanese members’ basic human rights be respected,” said Rev. LeRoy.