From August 22, 2022, Sayuri assumed the role of a professional apostate, a tool in the hands of the enemies of her former religion.
by Masumi Fukuda
Late at night on August 25, 2022, Masako worried and sent a message via LINE to Sayuri, saying that she wanted to visit her daughter’s home the next day. On August 26, however, Sayuri replied “No one from the church is allowed in our house now. If you would come, come, but be prepared. I take videos of everything and broadcast them on YouTube, social media, and TV.” At that time, Masako was already close to Sayuri’s house, but decided to turn back.
Yoshihiko tried to communicate with his daughter via LINE. He felt guilty that as a father he had not helped his daughter, who said she had become mentally disturbed after she had seen her mother abuse her grandmother. But he could not admit what was not true. See the following excerpts from LINE conversations:
Father: “I don’t know in what kind of media you, X (Sayuri’s real name), have appeared, but are you okay? Aren’t you still taking medicine and pushing yourself too hard? I know you are probably breastfeeding, and your mom is very worried about that. I know you think this is none of our business, but isn’t now the most important time to concentrate on raising your child? I just wish we could have time together as a family again.”
Daughter: “Thanks for ruining my life, causing me trauma and mental illness, and taking nearly two million yen of my wages. If you pay me three million yen as consolation, I will listen to you. But otherwise, please don’t get involved with me any more in the future.”
Father: “Dad just wants to apologize to X. I really should have discussed with your mom about your grandma. Dad believed he should give up. Your mother said that she just could not stop quarreling with grandma because of the intense scars that were carved on her from birth. I am really sorry. I had to find a solution no matter what it was. But I was not able to do that. I sacrificed the most sensitive person, X [Sayuri], because of it. If money is the solution for X, I would do anything to find it. But I don’t understand some parts of the story that your father and your family took your money, so I am hoping you will talk to me.”
Daughter: “Mom took my entire wages every month after I graduated from high school. Though she was saying, ‘I am sure I will pay you back,’ never once she paid me back, Nearly two million yen in two years.”
“How can you eat quietly without paying me back my money? I despise you from the bottom of my heart.”
Father: “Your mom does remember that she borrowed 160,000 yen at a difficult time and could not pay you back. I am really sorry. I wonder how you made a living when you were living alone in the apartment. It must have been so hard. I wonder if you gave your wages directly to your mom in cash. Or did your mom have your bank passbook or cash card and withdrew the money? I would appreciate it if you could tell me more about this.”
Daughter: “When I was hospitalized in Cheongpyeong, mom withdrew all my savings without my permission. She did not borrow them, but rather withdrew them without asking me and never returned the money. I got my part-time pay in cash, and every month mom said, ‘It is so hard right now, I am sure I will pay you back,’ so I gave the money to her. When I turned her down, she came to Y (the facility for the disabled where I worked) to pick it up directly on payday.”
Father: “Thanks for telling me. You say that your mom withdrew all the money from your account in Japan, when you came back from Cheongpyeong and found out that there was no money left in the account. But you did not say anything about it at that time: was it because you put up with it? How much money did you hand over to your mom every month?
I know that by October 2014, you had been to Cheongpyeong three times. And when you returned to Japan, all your savings were withdrawn, and all your wages were taken every month. Does it mean that you got the money you needed from your mom? I think you paid for the driving school, the car, the car repairs, the apartment’s rent and other things since around January 2016—but where did all this money come from?
In case you did not know, we did not purchase the two-storied pagoda and the Maitreya statue, but took them over because the owner had passed away and they were donated to us.
You might think we made large donations because of the two-storied pagoda or the Maitreya statue. When you were a small girl, we experienced financial difficulties, but it was not because of the donations. I think a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings are at work here.
You said that your mom withdrew your savings while you were hospitalized in Cheongpyeong. If you still have your bank passbook, could you please take a picture of it and send it to me? Because your mom is very worried about it. If you no longer have the passbook, could you ask your bank to provide the transaction history?”
However, Sayuri did not answer.
When her father asked her to submit her bank passbook or transaction history to corroborate her story, Sayuri either did not respond or dodged the question.
First, let us examine her statement, “Mom took my entire wages every month after I graduated from high school. Nearly two million yen in two years.” Actually, the periods when Sayuri claimed she had her wages taken change often in her statements, but let’s assume it was after she graduated from high school. In this year (2014), she attended training sessions from March 15 to April 24, April 26 to June 4, July 30 to September 30, as she did from December 29 to January 2 of the following year.
And since January 2015 she attended a vocational school for training as a counselor in Nagoya for a short period, so she was able to work for a limited time only. It is hard to believe that she earned two million yen in two years.
Besides, she said that at the facility for disabled where she worked, she received her wages in cash until around April 2015, and that her mother was taking money from her every month until that time. If so, this would have been from March 2014, when she graduated from high school, to around April 2015, which makes little more than a year, not two years. She said, “I received my wages in cash, and therefore there is no record in my bank’s passbook.” But when her father asked her to disclose the passbook, she refused it.
Her claim that “Mom withdrew all my savings without my permission when I was hospitalized in Cheongpyeong” seems similar to her statement at the hearing of the Constitutional Democratic Party, that “When I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, my mom withdrew all my hidden savings without my permission.” Note that she mentioned this story for the first time in August 2022.
Her mother Masako said, “I had no way to know about her hidden account, and even if I knew, I, not being the account owner, would not have been able to withdraw the money without her permission.” As for the claim that she took her daughter’s wages directly from her employer, she wondered, “I didn’t even know the payday and the amount due to my daughter. Then how could I go and get it?”
Thus, clearly Sayuri’s claim that her mother took her money has no plausibility at all.
The true story of the press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on October 7, 2022, is as follows.
On October 6, Sayuri’s parents were informed from a local church staff that Sayuri would hold a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan the following day. They were surprised and thought they had to do something. The church staff seemed to have seen Sayuri’s post on Twitter announcing the press conference for the following day.
However, her parents were informed only after 9pm on October 6. Since Yoshihiko starts to work very early, at 4am, they did not have enough time to consider the matter. Even so, firstly, Sayuri’s brother called her. However, she did not answer. So, in the morning of the press conference day, Yoshihiko sent the following message via LINE: “You hold a press conference today. Your dad and your family are very concerned because a lot of your memories of the past are so different from what we remember. Before speaking to a large audience, I would like you to first check your past e-mails and messages via LINE with your dad and your family, and check the records of your bank passbook. Even if now you believe that your memories are correct, I am afraid that my daughter will be hurt if she will find out later that her memories were wrong.”
Yoshihiko said that “I knew it would be difficult to stop the press conference, but I wanted to do anything possible to stop the circulation of fake news. However, my message via LINE was never read.”
Later, a local head minister of the church suggested that he might send a fax to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. However, Yoshihiko did not have enough time to prepare the document. Therefore, Sayuri’s parents asked a church headquarters’ staff who spoke English to prepare the document in both Japanese and English, and send it to them by e-mail. Yoshihiko read and understood it. He thought that the English text was good enough and the translation was not needed; therefore both the father and the mother signed the document in English. Yoshihiko asked Masako to send it by fax. Sayuri later posted on Twitter that the fax arrived at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan at 10:40 am: “Urgent.
We are the parents of Sayuri Ogawa (real name XX), a former member of the Unification Church, who is going to hold a press conference today at your press club.
As XX admits at the top of her Twitter page, she suffers from a serious mental illness known as ‘dissociative identity disorder,’ According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare website, this mental disease is a neurosis, in which several personalities with completely different characters, memories, and genders appear in one person. XX has been showing the disease’s symptoms for a long time, but after the media started reporting about the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe, her symptoms became worse. And she began to speak in the media and at political party meetings describing facts that were completely different from those that really happened in the past.
We are very concerned that if she continues these activities, her mental disorder may become much worse, or she may commit a crime such as defamation. Therefore, we are currently considering legal procedures to prevent her from telling any more untrue stories.
As such, we sincerely ask you to cancel her press conference today […].
[Signatures of the parents].”
Around 1pm, another document requesting the cancellation of the press conference was sent by the church’s lawyer to the club. When the press conference began at 2pm, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan should have been aware of these faxes. However, as mentioned earlier, the press conference started as scheduled, and after about 50 minutes had passed, the foreign lady chairing the event looked panicked as if she had just received those faxes, and showed Sayuri’s husband the English document requesting the cancellation of the press conference and the Japanese document sent by the church’s lawyer. The husband said that according to the parents’ fax his wife Sayuri was “mentally abnormal” and was “telling a lot of lies,” but this harsh language was not in the original document.
Her parents could not imagine that the organizers would publicly read their fax asking to cancel the event during the press conference. Even more, Sayuri’s husband used an inaccurate Japanese translation.
It is not clear whether the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan made a summary on the spot and handed it to Sayuri’s husband, and he merely read it aloud. However, as I mentioned earlier, many in the audience had the impression that the church was trying to derail the press conference. In the end, it was a great success for those who manipulated the reality and managed to put the church in an even worse light.
Furthermore, the parents were also accused of disclosing their daughter’s undetermined mental illness and violate her right to privacy. However, her parents thought that, because their daughter had clearly posted the name of her disease on Twitter, she had been officially diagnosed and did not want to keep her diagnosis probate. They also considered that their daughter’s symptoms of telling false stories were indeed similar to those typical of the dissociative identity disorder. The parents felt that their daughter was now a different person, as if another personality was possessing her body.
Besides, if you blame the parents for their breach of privacy, Sayuri herself is even more problematic. She tried an incomprehensible defense on YouTube, saying “I consulted people who are familiar with the disease, and posted its name on Twitter in my profile section to improve my symptoms.”