The Words of the Goto Family

Goto Speaking Tour Stirs Outrage in the United States

Douglas Burton
August 24, 2009

Mr. Toru Goto, a survivor of twelve and a half years of faith-breaking torture, completed his first U.S. speaking tour on August 23, 2009, with a public pledge of support from Rev. In Jin Moon, president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and a standing ovation from the congregation assembled at New York’s Manhattan Center.

After describing Mr. Goto’s horrific 12-year ordeal at the hands of his own family and their faith breaking allies in Japan (, Reverend Moon declared, “When I saw pictures of Mr. Goto [emaciated by forced starvation] I saw my father walking out of Hungnam prison,” she continued, adding, “If we don’t stand up for our own, who will we stand up for?” In a call to action, Reverend Moon encouraged her congregants to strongly stand up against violence and injustice around the world as a Generation of Peace armed with the power of True Love. Because we have a common experience of religious persecution and abuse, "Japan's problem," Pastor Moon explained, "is our problem!"

As she deplored the activist participation of Japanese ministers in faith breakings, Reverend Moon noted, “What stands before us is the barrier dividing religions, causing distrust and fear. But, brothers and sisters, the religions of the world are like fingers on the same hand. We are all sons and daughters of God, and that is what we need to concentrate on.”

She continued, “He [Mr. Goto] was preparing to be a phenomenal architect, but now, through the grace of God he is becoming a phenomenal activist.”

Mr. Goto was called onto the stage at the close of the service to receive a large bouquet of flowers and invited all church members to greet him personally. “This was even more of a show of support than I had expected,” Mr. Goto said afterward.

He was accompanied by a team of Japanese religious freedom activists, including Mamoru Kamono and Sam Nagasaka, who had come to the United States to sound the alarm about the severe problem of religious persecution that appears to have been ignored by the Japanese government. They reported on Mr. Goto’s case to officials at the U.S. State Department, which monitors religious freedom issues in all countries.

Mr. Goto gave his testimony on August 20th in Washington, D.C., to the heads of two prominent nonprofits dedicated to religious freedom, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy and the Leadership Council for Human Rights, and the delegation received guidance and a pledge of support from former Congressman Walter Fauntroy.

“I am excited about an opportunity to bring about change in public policy in Japan,” Dr. Fauntroy told the group, adding, “I believe that steps taken in the movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., can be used to effect change in policy in Japan. We must do things that raise public consciousness that change is needed. I want to inspire millions of Americans with this issue.”

On August 19, 20, and 22, Toru spoke to Unificationist congregations in Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey, receiving standing ovations from his audiences. Some American church members who themselves had been victimized by forced confinement volunteered to help raise consciousness of the problem.

On August 22, Mr Goto met with leaders of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, which has pledged to assist his religious freedom fight. Some of the clergy present wept as he recounted his ordeal. Archbishop George Augustus Stallings read aloud a prepared statement signed by Rev. Michael Jenkins, chairman of the ACLC; Dr. Walter Fauntroy, and himself, which included the following text:

As faith leaders we must say that we were shocked to see photos of Mr. Goto taken just after he escaped last year. He looked in every way the same as survivors of Holocaust death camps of Germany. We must say that we are even more shocked that in such a modern democratic society as Japan this egregious violation has not been fully prosecuted based on existing laws. We call upon the Japanese government, media and all appropriate law enforcement authorities to demonstrate Japan’s rightful position as a global leader by bringing this case and the lawbreakers to justice. The 20,000 pastors of the ACLC will fully work from America and through the United Nations to support these efforts.

Archbishop Stallings told his colleagues that “his [Mr. Goto’s] willingness to give up his life for a cause shows he has a faith that cannot die. If one believes without reservation in a cause as he has done, it is a source of strength to all of us. This is an opportunity for the ACLC to stand up and assert that every individual has a God-given right to express his faith.”

Mr. Dan Fefferman, president of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom (, arranged Mr. Goto’s meetings in the United States. He said the tour was an encouraging start on a campaign that may take months or years to see victory.

“We have been working on this issue for at least eleven years, and during this time, we have seen substantial reduction of the number of kidnappings of our members,” Mr. Fefferman told “However, as Toru Goto’s ordeal has proved, a serious, tragic level of religious persecution continues. Yet there are plenty of signs that help is on the way. The proactive involvement of Kook Jin Moon in Japan and Rev. In Jin Moon’s call for action on Sunday can only be good news for our brave and faithful brothers and sisters in Japan.”

Contributed by Douglas Burton 

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