Members of the Unification Church (UC) continued to report abductions. In its July 14 observations on Japan’s sixth periodic report, The United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern about reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to “new religious movements” by members of their families in an effort to deconvert them. The committee called on the government to “take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subjected to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief.”
While the number of reported abductions and forced deprogramming cases involving UC members has declined sharply since the 1990s, the UC and the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Without Frontiers International stated that abductions and forced deprogramming of UC members by their non-UC family members continued to occur. The UC reported nine cases in which 10 church members were abducted. In these cases, UC members either received notification directly from the abductees or visited the members’ homes after they went “missing,” and then contacted police in six cases. According to the UC, family members released from forced confinement nine of the members, including two released after five days following intervention by local authorities. Five of the released abductees subsequently withdrew from the church. The tenth detained member remained in “confinement” at year’s end.
In February media reported that 31 municipal libraries found that 265 copies of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank had been vandalized. In March a suspect was arrested, but prosecutors dropped the charges after the individual was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. A week after the arrest, the prime minister visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to express regret over the vandalism.
In December the Sankei newspaper published an advertisement for three anti-Semitic books that deny the Holocaust and link responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, among other human tragedies, to the Jewish people or the state of Israel. After the Simon Wiesenthal Center lodged a protest with the president of the newspaper, Sankei issued a letter of apology from its president to the center. Two days later, the newspaper published an apology to its readers and the Jewish community.
Significant interfaith efforts continued during the year. In February an inter-faith marathon relay race that included Buddhist, Shinto and Muslim followers was held in Kyoto Prefecture. Ten teams of 40 persons participated in the race and held a prayer for world peace.
On August 4, the 27th annual Religious Summit Meeting, an interfaith prayer event to promote world peace, was hosted by Tendai Buddhists on Mount Hiei in Shiga Prefecture. Approximately 1,000 Buddhist, Christian, and Shinto practitioners from around the world gathered for the event.
In November the Ukrainian Orthodox church held an ecumenical memorial service in remembrance of the Holodomor famine with Catholic and Anglican participants.
Members of the Islamic Center continued to speak at churches and participated in interfaith peace prayers with Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist groups.