There were few reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.
“Deprogrammers” working with family members reportedly continued to abduct Unification Church (UC) members and members of other minority religious groups. The number of reported cases has declined sharply since the 1990s, but the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Without Frontiers International maintained that abductions and deprogramming of UC members continued to occur. Japanese courts rejected some claims for prosecution or restitution in civil court based on the perceived lack of valid evidence of these abductions.
The UC reported three cases in which church members were abducted during the year, as well as two cases of suspected abduction. According to the church, one abductee was possibly still confined. The other individuals who were abducted and later released were still with the church at year’s end. The UC also asserted that, despite universities’ efforts to improve the situation, universities throughout the country continued to hold “cult prevention” workshops and campaigns urging students to avoid groups affiliated with the church and contributing to a hostile campus environment for Unificationist students. A university president confirmed the existence of anti-cult workshops, but stressed they were not exclusively targeted against the UC. A student filed suit against Saga University for slander and violating religious freedom for statements allegedly disparaging the UC marriage of the student’s parents. In a case filed in July, a former member alleged that the UC concealed its identity during the recruitment process and that the plaintiff lost her well-paying job by joining the UC. The case was pending at year's end.
While society was largely supportive of the right of Falun Gong practitioners to practice freely, the Chinese embassy in Tokyo reportedly carried out a campaign to persuade Japanese organizations to discriminate against Falun Gong practitioners. Some of the country’s top facilities refused to host Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York-based performance group associated with the Falun Gong, but other smaller theaters hosted the group.
Significant interfaith efforts continued during the year. The Japanese Association of Religious Organizations, an interfaith NGO, promoted religious culture and interfaith harmony. It sponsored a conference in March to present ways in which people of faith could address issues in areas of the country devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Members of the Islamic Center continued to speak at churches and participated in interfaith peace prayers with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist groups.