The Words of the Goto Family

Toru Goto: Disguising Conversion: Reappearance of Forced Conversion Agents

August 16, 2009
Reporters Group for "Religious Freedom"
The Sekai Nippo Newspaper

600 people gathered at the "Prayer Meeting for Religious Freedom" held in the Large Outdoor Music Hall in Hibiya Park, Tokyo = July 7, 2009

Mr. Goto was confined in a room on the 6th floor of an unfamiliar apartment in Niigata city. He fought back strenuously, but his family did not have the ear to listen. They have installed special keys on the room windows so they can lock them up from the inside. The entrance door was also bolted from the inside with a special type of lock.

Within this inescapable room, Mr. Goto's brother proclaimed, "I will not compromise and this situation will not change unless this problem is solved. We are ready to endure any sacrifice, so you be ready for it."

Some time later, Yasutomo Matsunaga, a Christian minister from the Niitsu Evangelical Christian Church started to visit Mr. Goto with the request of his family. "His speaking tone and attitude were gentlemanlike, as would that of a minister's would be. But a terrifying criminal act called forced confinement was taking place in that very room and there's no way Matsunaga could not have known it. I could not help feeling repulsion and anger at his unapologetic attitude," says Mr. Goto. However, Matsunaga says, "I only talked with Mr. Goto because his family asked me to."

Supposing it impossible to escape without converting, Mr. Goto decided to act as though he had converted.

In order to be recognized as "have converted," he had to pass a "testing ground." First, he had to write a document for defection from the Unification Church. Then, he was told to write a note on the process of his change of heart; how he was deceived by the Unification Church and what he thinks about it today. Then, Matsunaga would check his note.

Mr. Goto's brother was working in Tokyo back then, and he would come once every 1-2 weeks to see how Mr. Goto was doing. Because Mr. Goto had attempted to escape before, his brother was cautious in freeing him. As a result, the confinement dragged on for the next 2 years. During this period, he was not allowed to leave the apartment for even once, and he had to endure a suffocating life in the closed environment. In June 1997, Mr. Goto's father who had over watched Mr. Goto died of cancer.

Looking back at those days, Mr. Goto says, "I was deeply shocked. I got really depressed. But I told myself that if I wanted to be freed, I must keep on acting as if I have converted." With the death of his father, Mr. Goto's brother and the others decided to move Mr. Goto's confining place to an apartment in Ogikubo, Tokyo. When Mr. Goto was put into a van from Niigata, 7 men were mobilized to help, including a driver who was a former member of the Unification Church.

After viewing his father's remains at his parents' house in Hoya city, Tokyo, Mr. Goto was taken to an apartment near the Ogikubo station. He was confined there for around 6 months. Then, he was moved to room 804 in an apartment called the Ogikubo Flower Home, where he would be confined for the next 10 years. In December, 1997, it became unbearable for Mr. Goto to keep on acting as if he had converted. In order to defuse the situation, he made up his mind to tell his family that his conversion was a disguise. Mr. Goto speaks of the brave determination he made. "Now that I have told my family the truth, I could not apply disguised conversion again. I did not know how far I go. But I had to confront with them head-on. That was the only way I could think of."

Every evening around 6 o'clock, the agent for forced conversion, Miyamura, visited Mr. Goto with 5-6 former Unification Church members and repeatedly criticized the church and its doctrine. They would say things such as "We cannot free you unless you start thinking on your own," "If my child were to become a Unification Church member, I would build a cell in my house and keep him there until he dies." On the other hand, one of the former members would make a tearful appeal, "Mr. Goto, you have been making a terrible mistake."

"Well, but?" Bewildered by this appeal, Mr. Goto tried to talk back. Then, her voice suddenly changed. "What are you saying!" With a furious face, she dashed hot green tea on Mr. Goto's face.

Sometimes, around 10 people would surround him as if they were putting him through catechism. If he would try to make any argument, he was jeered and yelled at with every kind of cursing words; "Fool," "Idiot," "You devil," etc. Then, Miyamura would throw penetrating words at him. "Your father died because of you."

Within a closed apartment room, such inquiry went on for 4 hours everyday. "It was so painful... I thought I might as well just die," says Mr. Goto. From January to September in 1998, Mr. Goto counted the number of Miyamura's visit by marking a Chinese character on a corner of a book. It counted up to 73.

The reporters group tried calling Miyamura for an interview, but failed to reach him. 

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