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GREENBELT, MD, October 02, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Religious freedom activists expressed concern over a new case of a suspected kidnapping and secret confinement of a Unification Church member in Japan. The International Coalition for Religious Freedom (ICRF) announced the disappearance of the 32-year-old man from the city of Nagoya in Japan's Aichi Prefecture. Mr. "K.M." has not been seen by fellow church members since September 5.
Local church leaders have reported Mr. "K.M." as a missing person to the police. His place of work also reported him absent, and colleagues from the local Okazaki Unification Church, with which he is affiliated, found his residence empty. However, Japanese police routinely reject such reports on the grounds that a church pastor is not a relative. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that in hundreds of such cases, it is the victim's relatives who kidnap and confine him, with the intent to force him or her out of the church.
The practice of kidnapping religious believers for 'deprogramming' was widespread in the U.S. in the 1970s and80s, but came to an end after courts made it clear that such actions were illegal, even when committed by family members. Scientologists, Krishna devotees, Pentecostal Christians and Unificationists were among the victims. Today, the Unification Church remains highly controversial in Japan, and the nation's traditional values hold that 'family matters' - such as spousal abuse, rape, incest and forcing an adult relative to renounce his religion - should be kept private.
The issue of religious kidnapping in Japan has recently gained international attention as the result of the case of Mr. Toru Goto, who was held against his will in a secret location in Tokyo for 12 years because he refused to renounce his Unificationist faith. He sued the alleged perpetrators, who include relatives and a Christian minister, and the case is currently being tried in a Tokyo court.
Out of respect for his privacy the church is not releasing the current victim's full name, but accredited researchers may learn additional details by contacting ICRF.
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