Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Japan: Japanese Ambassador Refuses to Meet U.S. Human Rights Leaders

Shinichi Nishimiya, Japan's Ambassador and Consul General in New York, has refused to meet with human rights leaders following their formal request to meet and discuss a course of action to end religious persecution in Japan.

In mid-October, human rights leaders and Christian pastors met with members of the press on the steps outside Japan's Consulate in New York to decry inaction stopping the abduction and faith-breaking of religious minorities. A signed letter from the Consulate's secretary was delivered stating, "in reference to your request for appointment with Ambassador Nishimiya, the Consulate regrets to inform you that Ambassador is not available."

Dr. Luonne Rouse, a United Methodist Church pastor in New York City, responded, "It is so regrettable that the Ambassador of Japan has refused to meet with us to discuss the matter of abuse, which is hurting women and men of faith. My apologies for any part, even in ignorance, people of other faith communities have played in the mistreatment of Unification members in Japan. A change has to take place in Japan in accord with the validity of our Christian mission."

A coalition to Stop Japan Abductions is planning a nationwide protest encouraging Japan to live up to its human rights commitments. Events will be held on November 16 at several Japanese Consulates simultaneously to stress the need for awareness and reform. Details on the upcoming press briefings and events can be found at

More than 4,300 members of the Unification Church are estimated to have been subjected to human rights violations during the past 40 years. In recent years, between 10 and 20 Unification Church members in Japan are abducted, confined and forced to undergo attempted de-conversions.

In the U.S., American citizens are being asked to sign a petition encouraging Congress to hold hearings on human rights violations in Japan. The hearings would be held by the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights, co-chaired by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).

Source: International Coalition for Religious Freedom