Thursday, July 7, 2011

ICSA (Anti-Cult) Conference in Spain - Session "Deprogramming in Japan" held

ICSA anti-cult Conference is held in Barcelona, Spain (July 7 – 9, 2011).  Both pro-deprogramming (anti-UC) lawyers and victims of deprogramming practices in Japan will attend the conference.  

ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) is an academically oriented global network of anti-cult people.  Japanese victims of deprogramming have started to attend the conference since 2 years ago while Japanese anti-UC lawyers have been attending for many years.

According to Dan Fefferman’s report, Japanese victims approached the ICSA organizers at the last year’s conference.  Fefferman says “Mr. Uotani and Mr. Goto also met a number of the conference organizers and speakers. Notable among these were Dr. Michael Langone, president of ICSA, and Mr. Michael Kropveld, head of Infocult/Infosect--the American and Canadian co-sponsors of the conference. We proposed to hold a session on deprogramming in Japan during the next conference. They took our materials and agreed to consider the idea.”

ICSA responded to their suggestion, and a new session “Deprogramming in Japan” is held as follows;
July 8, 2011    
11:00 – 12:30    Room 404

Deprogramming in Japan

Introduction to the Deprogramming Issue
Eileen Barker Ph.D., Moderator

‘Deprogramming’ in Japan: Fact or Fiction?
Dan Fefferman, M. Div  

Victim Testimonies
Toru Goto
Luke Higuchi

The Connection between ‘Lost Youth’ Compensation Cases and Forced Conversion in Japan
Shunsuke Uotani

ICSA is an anti-cult organization, but it opposes deprogramming practice.  It says as follows in their website.

(Quote form ICSA website)
The actual process of a deprogramming, as we see it, differs a great deal from voluntary exit counseling. Some of the ideas about cults and brainwashing prevalent at the time contributed to that process. It was believed that the hold of the brainwashing over the cognitive processes of a cult member needed to be broken -- or "snapped" as some termed it -- by means that would shock or frighten the cultist into thinking again. For that reason in some cases cult leader's pictures were burned or there were highly confrontational interactions between deprogrammers and cultist. What was often sought was an emotional response to the information, the shock, the fear, and the confrontation. There are horror stories -- promoted most vehemently by the cults themselves -- about restraint, beatings, and even rape. And we have to admit that we have met former members who have related to us their deprogramming experience -- several of handcuffs, weapons wielded and sexual abuse. But thankfully, these are in the minority -- and in our minds, never justified. (end of quote)

Also I would like to introduce speakers of the sessions presented by pro-deprogramming (anti-UC) group.  A 1.5 hour session is held as follows.  The morning session in the same room is the“Deprogramming in Japan”session.

July 8, 2011
2:30 – 4:00
 Room 404

How Japanese Government, Lawyers, Citizens and Victims Confront Controversial Groups, Especially the Unification Church
Masaki Kito, Esq., Takashi Yamaguch, Esq., Yukari Yamamoto, Eito Suzuki

This session is led by the anti UC lawyers' group in Japan, known as the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales.  Both Masaki Kito and Takashi Yamaguchi are lawyers.  They claim that such things (deprogramming practices - abduction, confinement, forcible de-conversion) do not exit, and Mr Toru Goto was voluntarily reclusive for 12 years.

Masaki Kito recently tweeted in twitter as follows;
You are poisoned by the logic of the Unification Church.  It can’t become an international issue as there’s no such reality.  It’s a demagogue.” (tweeted at someone’s comment saying“you should discuss the (deprogramming) issue at the public place.”)

As the lawyers will be challenged “Fact or Fiction” by Dan Fefferman in the morning session, they need to say proudly what they think.

Another session is led by Yaya Nikkan Cult Shinbun (Almost Daily Cult Newspaper)

July 8, 2011
4:30 – 6:00
 Room 404
Twenty-Eight Years Experience Dealing with Sectarian Problems in Europe
Friedrich Griess

The Unique Attempt of the Online Specialty Journal “Yaya Nikkan Cult Shinbun” (Almost Daily Cult Newspaper)
Yoshiro Fujikura and Eito Suzuki

The Alpha Course and the New Apostolic Reformation with New Age Controversies and Cultic Concerns
David Clark

Yaya Nikkan Cult Shimbun (Almost Daily Cult Newspaper) is an online media (a blog in blogspot) specialized in cultic issues.  Yoshihiro Fujikura is an editor in chief.  

In their blog article dated on Mar 26, 2011, they claimed that a freelance journalist Kazuhiro Yonemoto, who writes anti-deprogramming articles was not considered as an independent source of information by US Department of State. The cult paper intentionally misinterprets the International Religious Freedom Report written by US Department of State in order to reach the conclusion.

I (Yoshi, author of this blog) posted a report in my Japanese Blog titled “Intentional Loose Translation is Misinterpretation.”  The chief editor attacked me and my article as “muckheap” without any specific and logical rebuttal.  I wish he wouldn't do same thing at the international stage. 

In deprogramming issue, it looks like they(Yaya Nikkan Cult Shinbun) are behaving as spokesmen for the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales.   

Dan Fefferman mentions Eito Suzuki as follows in his report of last year’s ICSA conference.

Fefferman says; one presenter,“anti-cult activist” Eito Suzuki, mentioned our campaign against kidnapping and confinement. He expressed the opinion that the main reason for this activity is to distract people from the church's “illegal” behavior in fundraising and recruiting. He even showed a slide of our pamphlet with Mr. Goto’s picture on the front. At that point I interrupted to add that Mr. Goto was actually right there in the room. Mr. Suzuki then politely introduced Mr. Goto, which resulted in a lot of people speaking to him afterward. During the question period, I gave a brief rebuttal to Mr. Suzuki’s claim. "If you want to claim the moral high ground," I declared, "you need to speak out against kidnapping and confinement."

I would like to hear Eito Suzuki’s countercharge.

Dan Fefferman presents “Fact or Fiction”, and then victims speak.  If there are any human rights violations, journalists need to stand up to protect human rights.  If there are any un-social issues in the cult, journalist can also speak up. 
ICSA is an anti-cult organization, and it regards the Unification Church as cult.  But at the same time, ICSA opposes deprogramming practice.  I appreciate the ICSA’s decision to have both parties to present what they think at their international conference.  At the international conference, they (both parties) can’t hide, nor avoid questions which they don’t want to answer.  

ICSA attendee will judge who is telling truth.

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