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The International Coalition for Religious Freedom reports that the UN Human Rights Committee has “formally reminded” Japan of its responsibility to uphold religious freedom.

The warning follows reports that the government consistently turns a blind eye to forced de-conversion of adherents of minority faiths. “The State party [Japan] should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion which would impair his or her freedom to  have or to adopt a religion or belief,” said UNHCR.

ohchr-logoHuman Rights Without Frontiers, which has taken a leading role in informing the UN on this issue, issued a report stating:

“On 15-16 July, Japan’s human rights record was reviewed in the framework of the 111th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. During Japan’s sixth periodic review, the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right not to be coerced to change religion has been raised in detailed reports provided to the Committee by Human Rights Without Frontiers (Brussels) and by the Japanese Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Religious De-Conversion.

The Committee’s expert from Germany, Ms. Seibert-Fohr, raised the issue of abductions and “deprogramming”, explaining that the Committee heard about cases of abductions and forced religious de-conversions of members of the Unification Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Adults were reported to have been abducted and confined by their families for six months or more, while there was little police search or investigation. The inactivity was excused by saying the people were “with their families”.

See the ICRF report here

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