The Words of the Goto Family

Toru Goto: Severe Struggle under Confinement: State of Malnutrition when Released

August 18, 2009
Reporters Group for "Religious Freedom"
The Sekai Nippo Newspaper

Mr. Goto speaks of his experience of religious kidnapping and confinement, August 11, 2009

"You won't be able to think rationally and escape the church organization unless you get away from it. That's why we are providing you an opportunity to examine the Unification Church until you can start thinking on your own," "We are protecting you like an emergency shelter from the cult organization that has been brain washing you."

"Without exception, my family members and the former members of the Unification Church were saying the same things in a single uniform way. I felt that they were the ones who were brainwashed," says Mr. Goto as he looks back on those days. Against such claims made by the executioners of the confinement, he rebutted.

"If we are going to have a discussion, I'd be happy to do so. But religious kidnapping and confinement is a crime and a serious violation of human rights. This is not a place for discussion or examination. It is more than obvious that you are trying to force me to convert my faith in name of "protection". Isn't Japan supposed to be a nation of freedom and democracy?"

However, after some time, each and every day of similar arguments started to become intolerable for Mr. Goto. He tried to contact the neighboring people. At one time, he pounded the wall that leads to the room next door and shouted, "Is anyone there!" But there was no response.

Once in a while, he overheard voices from another floor through the bathroom air vent. So he climbed up on the bathtub and shouted at the air vent with all his might, "I'm being confined. Please call the police!" But he was soon pulled down from the bathtub by Miyamura. Mr. Goto hurt his hands through this scuffle and streams of blood poured on the floor.

Also, at one time, Mr. Goto charged up the entrance door, shouting out loud. His family covered him with a blanket so his voice would not be heard. His brother grasped his body and his sister grasped his hands. Mr. Goto was especially shocked at his mother and sister. "Where in the world do they hide such strength?" he thought.

After some time, Mr. Goto's brother took off from work and began to station at the apartment room. However, he found it difficult to deal with Mr. Goto, who kept on shouting out loud. Mr. Goto showed no signs of being persuaded, and with each passing day, his brother took on a more resigned look on his face.

By then, Mr. Goto was already reaching his 40s. It was September 1995 when he was confined in an apartment in Niigata and he was 31 years old. It has been nearly 10 years now. "What will happen to me in the future if I am left behind from the society like this?" He was swept by sense of anxiety and frustration.

"If there's no use acting up, I'll go on a hunger strike." When he reached 40 years old in April 2004, he decided fast for 21 days. During this period, his brother's wife often slapped him as if she has gone crazy. There was also a time when she would shout, "You should know better! Wake up!" and pour a bowl full of iced water into his back.

In April 2005, he went on a second strike, and in April next year, he decided to go on a third hunger strike, where he fasted for 30 days. His family acted against this by putting him on food restriction even after the fasting period was over. "If you've been doing this at the risk of your life, keep doing it until you die," swore his brother's wife.

Mr. Goto seriously considered suicide, but feeling it would do his family no good, he thought it over and decided to beg for food. However, for the next 70 days, all they fed him were some thin rice gruel and 1 litter of sports supplement drink a day.

It was late afternoon on a winter day, when Mr. Goto's family questioned him, "Are you sure you don't want to examine (reflect on and convert from) the Unification Church?" Mr. Goto talked back firmly, "Why do I have to examine my faith under confinement? This is not a place for any kind of examinations."

Then, his family said, "Get out of here, now!" and threw him out of the apartment with the shoes he wore when he was kidnapped.

It was February 10, 2008. All he had were the clothes he wore. He had no money. Because of the food restriction that went on after the hunger strike, he was in a state of malnutrition (doctor's diagnosis after his release). But it was the moment when he stood on the outside world with his own will for the first time in 12 years.

One day, when he went on the subway for the first time after his release, he was surprised to see the passengers looking down at their hands and busily moving their fingers. Twelve years ago, there was no such thing as sending e-mails from mobile phones. Although he restored his freedom, Mr. Goto came to fully realize that he been left behind in another time. 

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