Her parents’ testimony and the “Hanada” magazine’s investigation clarified that what Sayuri told the media may not conceivably be true.
by Masumi Fukuda
During my interview, Yoshihiko, Sayuri’s father, tried his best to speak calmly, but there was only one moment when his face flushed and his voice became choked up. That was when he was talking about his daughter’s criticism of the adoptions that had been conducted by the members of the Family Federation for a long time. She said, “It is almost like human trafficking.”
“I assume that someone is making her say that. We have been talking to our daughter previously how we felt when we gave my daughters up for adoption, and I am sure she understands that… As for our second daughter, we once gave her up for adoption, but she came back after six months because the family were not confident enough they could raise her due to their difficult circumstances. We talked to our second daughter about this around September last year, before this issue hit the media, and she understood.”
Sayuri testified, “I cannot forget my sister’s expression when she cried and said, ‘Mom, why did you give me up for adoption?’”
But Yoshihiko strongly denies this: “It’s impossible. I asked my second daughter and she said she has no idea of this.”
“My wife and I were lucky enough to have many children. We wanted to help families who were unable to have children. We decided that if we would have a fifth and a sixth child, we would give them to families who were in desperate need of children. None of this was mediated by the church.”
“There is a strange criticism, he said, that ‘Arranging the adoption before birth is treating the child as an object and violating human rights.’ However, we have formed a trusting relationship based on faith with the future adoptive parents even before the birth of our children who were later adopted, and we cooperated with them until the day of the birth. The two families raise the child together for one month, then the child is adopted. What is the problem with that? After that, the two families continue to interact with each other, and the siblings have a good relationship with one another. In fact, our third daughter is particularly concerned about us and her sister [Sayuri] now.”
Currently, Sayuri and her parents are communicating again via LINE, and the communication seems to work. The parents hope to meet their daughter in person to make sure of the facts and clear up any misunderstandings, as their memories of past events differ so much. And until then, they ask her to refrain from appearing in the media. Sayuri says, “Okay, let’s talk about it.” But she would like at least one of her parents to appear in a documentary that Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) is currently planning to feature her, and she says she would like to have a frank talk with them, to work out their misunderstandings.
Yoshihiko replied, “I do not want to have such an important talk in the public media to clear up misunderstandings between parents and child. Why do we need the media to repair a parent-child relationship?”
Her parents continue to ask Sayuri to send them her past bank transaction history but each time she refuses, claiming that she cannot send it because her lawyer would not allow her to do so or because the former Unification Church would misuse it.
Sayuri mentioned a lawyer. In fact, there is a trial she is involved in right now. Noriko Ishigaki, a member of the House of Councilors [the Upper house of the National Diet] for the Constitutional Democratic Party, posted a video of the hearing held by the party with Ogawa on her YouTube channel.
However, on November 2, 2022, the Family Federation requested a provisional injunction from the Tokyo District Court ordering the deletion of the contents, claiming that they were factually inaccurate and constituted defamation against the church.
The part of Ogawa’s testimony that the Family Federation finds specially objectionable is the following: “During the collective wedding in which my parents were married, the founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon said, ‘Even if you need to borrow money or sell your body, Japan, the country of Eve, must give donations to Korea, the country of Adam.’ Echoing these words, dad, who was the head of his local church, said the same thing to his flock during the service.”
According to the church, Reverend Sun Myung Moon was speaking in Korean to his male Korean believers at that time, and he did not say, “The Japanese who are from the country of Eve –” or anything like that. In particular, the phrase “even if you sell your body” is a literal translation from Korean. The original meaning is completely different. It means “even if you have to work very hard,” and it is derived from the theological principle that “even if you work hard, it is always insufficient in the presence of Heaven.” Therefore, Yoshihiko, who was the head minister of the church, would never give such a sermon to his believers.
The response from Councilor Noriko Ishigaki to this provisional injunction was extremely insincere. The first trial hearing was scheduled on December 6, but prior to this, the court was contacted by Mr. Takashi Yamaguchi and other lawyers belonging to the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, representing Councilor Ishigaki. They asked to postpone the first hearing because Ogawa was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and could not attend.
However, I checked Ogawa’s Twitter feed and found out that she regularly posted on Twitter every day. She even posted a video featuring herself. On December 4, she announced that she would appear on a live webcast program of the Tokyo Broadcasting System, titled “Houdou 1930,” scheduled to be aired on December 6. How can a sick person appear on a live program that requires mental and physical strength? In other words, she showed no signs of illness at all.
On the other hand, the court decided that waiting for too many days would be against the purpose of the provisional injunction, and the first hearing was held on December 6 as scheduled. At that time, Attorney Yamaguchi offered many weak excuses, such as “We only met with Ogawa a week ago, so we have yet to hear her story,” and “It takes time to listen to her.”
What I can assume from this is that it is the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales itself that is using Ogawa to further its own agenda, even if they may be very much aware of the lack of plausibility of her statements. Therefore, they try as far as it is possible to avoid bringing her to the forefront.
This can be assumed from another fact. I was eager to talk to Sayuri as well, so I requested an interview through Yoshihiko by e-mail. However, the reply came from Attorney Takashi Yamaguchi.
The answer was “no interviews,” and he even refused to be interviewed himself about her. Therefore, I replied to him that, “I now understand that Attorney Yamaguchi and the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales do not care about the facts.”
The Network would not hesitate to use all means to destroy the former Unification Church. They are willing to tell all sort of stories, including lies, to achieve what they believe is a righteous purpose. They often throw the words “anti-social” and “cult” at the former Unification Church, but considering their involvement in the abduction and confinement of believers, one may wonder whether they are not more deserving of these labels themselves.
The facts are quite simple. Sayuri Ogawa was not a victim of the former Unification Church, nor was she subjected to religious abuse by her parents, who were members of the church. Her parents raised her with sufficient love. If there was some trouble between parents and daughters, even if I accept most of their claims, it was purely a family problem.
In the first place, it is easy to notice that there are many contradictions in Sayuri’s statements if you just listen a little bit carefully. However, the media and politicians did not verify her statements, did not pay any attention to the contradictions, and continued to use Ogawa as their convenient tool. As a result, misinformation was spread, and the honor of the parents and the Family Federation was severely offended. And the most serious problem is that national politics was distorted by her false statements.
Her father, Yoshihiko, said, “But I am sure that one day my daughter’s misunderstandings will be cleared up and she will come back to herself. Then, my daughter might be criticized. That’s what I worry about. And moreover, this is an important time for both my daughter and her baby in the postpartum period. We are capable of resisting slander thanks to the training we have undertaken as part of our life of faith, but it would be unbearable for us that our daughter will be spoken ill of. My daughter has been constantly saying lately that it is dangerous for her to see us, but who is it that makes her say arch things? Who says she can only speak in front of the media? I pray that my daughter will not be used any further by the media. ‘Sayuri Ogawa’ is not who she really is. I want to talk to X (Sayuri’s real name). My daughter is, at heart, a good girl who loves her parents.”