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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Persecution of Christians in Japan



The conference "Religious Discrimination in Japan" was recently held, organized by several human rights and religious freedom NGOs :
In the last 40 years, about 4000 members of the Unification Church as well as members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were kidnapped, confined and submitted to brainwashing for days, weeks, months and sometimes years in total impunity to force them to recant their faith.

This video presents two shocking testimonies (presented at the UN office in Geneva on Oct 31st, 2012): Mr. Toru Goto, who has been kidnapped and confined for his beliefs during 13 years and Mrs. Mitsuko Antal, member of the Unification Church, both of them kidnapped by their own relatives and tortured by Japanese citizens, professional faith-breakers and deprogrammers.

Unfortunately, the Japan Ministry of Justice has turned a blind eye to the severe human rights violations by non-state actors and treated them merely as a "family matter". Even the media in Japan has imposed a total blackout on these crimes.
The United Nations have been alerted to the problem but have done nothing about it:
While Japan was lightly criticized for discrimination including religious discrimination during its UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 31 October 2012, the international community failed to note the refusal of Japanese authorities to protect the human rights of thousands of members of minority religions who have been violently abducted by family members and forced to change their religion, Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) reported today.

“Despite having objective evidence of gross negligence by the authorities concerning kidnapping and coercion of Japanese citizens, UN delegations ignored the issue and thus helped Japan maintain its strategy of denial,” said Willy Fautre, president of HRWF, which undertook research on the issue and published a report on “Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-conversion” in late 2011. Human Rights Without Frontiers and other organizations made submissions on the issue to the UN prior to the UPR review and met with numerous UN delegations to ask that the issue be raised with Japanese authorities.
If I say "Japan" and "persecution of Christians" you wouldn't think that the two go well together, would you?

Japan is traditionally Buddhist and we all think that we know Buddhism to be a pacifist, tolerant religion. Yet how much do we know about it? Buddhism's pacifism is more of a stereotype than anything else. And Western people have in recent decades developed a guilt complex, a self-flagellation inclination that induces them to look at others with excessively benevolent eyes.

In The Religions Next Door: What We Need To Know About Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, and what Reporters Are Missing (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) , American author Marvin N. Olasky (page 129) writes:
Although many Americans equate Buddhism with the search for serenity, two books by Methodist-turned-Buddhist Brian Victoria show that Zen Buddhist priests before and during World War II taught Japan's military leaders to be serene about killing others and, if necessary, themselves. As samurai warriors in previous centuries had found Zen's mind control useful in developing combat consciousness, so kamikaze pilots visited Zen monasteries for spiritual preparation before their last flights.

Buddhism also has its parallels to the teaching by some Muslim clerics that dying in the process of killing enemies guarantees passage to paradise. Some Zen priests during World War II told prospective kamikaze attackers that they would gain improved karma for the next life, and in a deeper sense would lose nothing, since life is unreal and there is really no difference between life and death. Mr. Victoria shows that D.T. Suzuki, who taught at Columbia University in the 1950s and became the prime spreader in America of Zen's mystique, stated in 1938 that Zen's "ascetic tendency" helped the Japanese soldier to learn "that to go straight forward and crush the enemy is all that is necessary for him."

Mr. Victoria also shows that Hakuun Yasutani, who helped in the 1960s to make Zen popular in the United States, was a major militarist before and during World War II, and even wrote in 1943 a book expressing hatred of "the scheming Jews." Stung by such evidence, leaders of Myoshin-ji - the headquarters temple for one major Zen sect - issued shortly after 9/11 an apology noting that "in the past our nation, under the banner of Holy War, initiated a conflict that led to great suffering." Myoshin-ji noted specifically that its members "conducted fundraising drives to purchase military aircraft."

Other Buddhist groups besides the Zen sects supported Japan's aggression and looked to historical warrant for it, and there was plenty.
The book continues by enumerating some of the many bloody conflicts and wars fought by Japanese Buddhists, including priests.

Regarding Christianity, Buddhist leaders were ruthless in their persecution, torture and massacre of Christians in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, desperate to prevent Christianity from becoming Japan's main religion after the opening of trade between the country and Europe. Not even a single Christian should be left alive in Japan, the slaughter had to be complete. The threat from Christianity was so great that different Buddhist sects put aside their disagreements and joined forces.

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