Friday, November 30, 2012

Asako's Existence Encouraged Other Victims to Speak Out.

Ms Asako Shukuya was a victim of deprogramming (kidnapping and confinement for the purpose of forcible conversion).   After renouncing the faith in the Unification Church, she was true to her heart and courageously started to speak out about inhumane acts of deprogramming.

I regret that Asako passed away.  She died of Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) at the age of 48 at home on Oct 15, 2012.  I would like to write about Asako today.

Ms Asako Shukuya
Photo from:

She was released from the confinement in 1996 after she renounced the faith in the Unification Church.   Since the release, she had to endure incredible hardships.   

A journalist, Mr. Kazuhiro Yonemoto describes her situation in his book "Our Unpleasant Neighbours" as follows;
<Beginning of Quote>Soon after moving into an apartment in Totsuka, Asako found her atopic eczema back again from her days in Gunma prefecture. The apartment was supposed to be her long-awaited safe haven, but she felt too itchy to appreciate the new environment.

She had to pay visits to her dermatologist, only to be treated with stronger steroids with more side effects. The medication showed quick effects, but soon with more spreading rash. It seemed the more medication was applied, the stronger the atopic resistance became and shorter its effects lasted. At its worst, as much as 20 units of steroids were applied in a month!
Photo from:
In the following spring and summer of 1997, she had to be hospitalized twice. When discharged, her condition looked slightly improved, just to find one-inch-large reddish rashes around her body, driving her mad in scrabbling them but little effect. Eventually, she decided to end this vicious cycle by stopping steroids in July 1998.

But then the rebound! The rash spread all over -- her face, ankles, abdomen and all the way to her back. Reluctantly, she had to ask her mother's help. Five days a week, she had her father drive to her doctor, who was to undo the steroid. Her conditions were horrible: her skin was like a snake with 5-millimeter-square, dry 'scales' peeled off before 'fresh atopic rash' coming up. She saw a total stranger in the mirror with the swollen red face and smashed eyes.

Along with the spreading rash, she began having nightmares. They followed three patterns:

In one pattern, she was chased after by a monster inside a closed room. Her desperate run ended up her being caught.

In another, while she was asleep, she saw an invisible zombie-like object talking out all kinds of abusive words to her ear, poking her in the back or clinging to her. Out of frustration and fear, she tried to escape, to no avail as if she had been tied up.

The third pattern concerns her family persistently bullying her psychologically. Though full of rage and humiliation, she was unable to rebut. Its location was always her family home.

She woke up sweating all over her body, which was nearly out of the bed. Though she struggled to stay in the middle, she felt immobile like being bound hand and foot. The dreams were so real to Asako that their negative impacts persisted with palpitation all day long.

Her drinking habit from the days in Gunma continued, even resorting to whisky while she felt in the high. Her whisky consumption increased from one month a bottle, two weeks, one week, four days and, by the year 2000 only two days to finish a bottle!

There was little regular pattern between sleep and arousal. For instance, the conditions of one week in January of a certain year was as follows:

January 23rd: 4 AM - 8 AM asleep 4 hours
January 23rd: 8 AM - 5 AM of 24th awake for 21 hrs
January 24th: 5 AM - 3 PM asleep 10 hrs
January 24th: 3 PM - 10 AM of 25th awake for 19 hours
January 25th: 10 AM - 3 PM asleep 5 hrs
January 25th: 3 PM - 12 noon of 26th awake for 20 hours
January 26th: 12 noon - 6 PM asleep for 6 hrs
January 26th: 6 PM - 10 PM of 27th awake for 28 hrs
January 27th: 10 PM - 5 PM of 28th asleep for 19 hrs
January 28th: 5 PM - 12 noon of the 29th awake for 19 hrs
January 29th: 12 noon - 6 PM asleep for 6 hours
<End of Quote>

Though Asako was critical to the Unification Church, she started to speak out against the inhumane deprogramming process (kidnapping and confinement and forced conversion process). 

She started her own website named "Night Cherry" in 2002 even though she was suffering from PTSD.  Asako says in the introduction of her website as follows:

The confinement in the name of  "protection" ended and I started to live on my own.  However, It took me 5 years to become to be able to express my feelings.

It looks like that I have unconsciously reflected my daily feelings and formed a new personality and thoughts which I had not had before by connecting many other people during this 5-year period. 
The "protection" ended externally when I renounced the faith. However, I never received "protection" which captors were supposed to give in terms of liberation of my heart. They have not offered such protection, nor noticed the importance of giving protection.

I have finally noticed that my heart is crying out for liberation, and I've just started something at last.

A Japanese journalist, Mr. Kazuhiro Yonemoto was aware of the impropriety of "kidnapping and confinement" in 1999.  He started to look for victims who were critic both to the Unification Church and to the "kidnapping and confinement" in order to write an article in value-neutral stance.

 He finally found Aasko in 2002.  Mr. Yonemoto says in his book "Our Unpleasant Neighbors" (P38).  Mr. Yonemoto says in the book as follows;
I finally found Ms Asako Shukuya.  

I made a telephone call to her to ask for an interview.  I expected she would hesitate to be interviewed.  Contrary to that, she started to spout,  and continued to talk for 2 hours.  Asako was lonely.
The relationships with the UC members were lost after she renounced the Church.  As she became critic to deprogramming practices, anti-Unification Church group started to ignore her.  She had no one to talk to even if she wanted to pour out.  

In Oct 2004, Mr. Kazuhiro Yonemoto wrote an article "Untold Story of Terror and Tragedy in "Religious Confinement"  subtitled "Former UC Member's Heavy Cross after Renouncing the Faith".  It was published in the Nov 2004 version of monthly magazine called "Gekkan Gendai".  The article is mainly about Asako's suffering after the release from the deprogramming process.

In July 2008, Mr. Yonemoto published "Our Unpleasant Neighbors".  The first half is about Asako's story. 

These 2 publications shocked the deprogrammers and their supporters.  Without Asako's contribution, these must have been less powerful publications against deprogrammers, or these publications may not have existed.

In Feb. 2009, a civic organization called "Association to Stop Kidnapping & Confinement" was established.  Asako was a vice-president of the organization at one time. 

Her parents and relatives (Asako's captors) started to read her website and became to understand her suffering.  They apologized her, and their relationships were reconciled.  The "Association to Stop Kidnapping & Confinement" hosted an event titled "Meeting to Stop Kidnapping & Confinement:  Breakdown and Repair of Parents-Children Relationships" and invited Asako and her mother to the event as main speakers.

Asako's two deprogrammers, who are pastor Yoshio Shimizu and pastor Sakae Kurotori have not apologized Asako yet.  These deprogrammers lost chance to do so while Asako was alive. 

Pastor Yoshio Shimizu on SBS TV program, deprogrammer of Asako
Photo from:

 In Oct 2010, Korean TV channel SBS broadcasted a program "Kidnapping and Confinement in the Unification Church.   In this TV program, Asako's photos with atopic eczema were shown.  She was so courageous that she allowed her photos to be used in the program.  At 34:50 in the program, Asako's deprogrammer Pastor Yoshio Shimizu appears. Please click the link below to view.

Link to the SBS TV Program

When Toru Goto took his case to Tokyo District Court, she took charge of "Committee to support Toru Goto's Court Case".

Asako's existence encouraged many other victims to speak out against deprogramming, including those who renounced the church.  I believe that Asako's wishes will be carried out, not only in Japan but all over the world.

Her achievement towards resolving deprogramming issue in Japan will be remembered forever.  Rest in peace, Asako-san.


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