A press event hosted by Georgia State Sen. Donzella James at the State Capitol building on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011welcomed John Seijin Tranberg, 22, and Joshua Wildman, 21, of Los Angeles, who are doing a 2,300 mile bicycle trip under the banner of “Faith, Family, and Freedom.” Tranberg explained that he was doing the exhausting trip to call attention to the faith-breaking persecution of his fellow Unificationists in Japan which continues to occur due largely to the failure of Japanese police forces to enforce existing laws of Japan that guarantee freedom of religion for all citizens.
He told the gathering at the State Capitol in Atlanta: “About 30 years ago, hundreds of American citizens were abducted and harassed for weeks or months in an effort to break their faith. Most of these folks resisted this cruelty, returned to the Unification Church, got married, and raised fantastic children. The people who were paid to abduct Unification Church members stopped doing it about 20 years ago after several of them were arrested and went to jail. But in Japan the abductions and faithbreaking still goes on. No one has been prosecuted. The Japanese media has refused to report this cruel phenomenon to the public.”
Sen. James invoked the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she said that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” in introducing the issue to the gathering. She acknowledge seven local Japanese-American members of the Women’s Federation for World Peace who attended in the rally in Japanese kimonos to show solidarity with the thousands of Japanese women who have been kidnapped and subjected to faith-breaking efforts.
Also present and speaking at the event was Katsuya Tsukakoshi, a clinical psychologist (who is also a Unification Church member) who is presently visiting the United States. He spoke to those present about counseling hundreds of victims of faith-breaking in Japan during the last three years.
Tranberg is the student body president of Georgia Gwinnett College in his home town of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Wildman is a college student in California majoring in psychology.
By Friday evening, Dec. 16, 2011, the two young men were camping near the Georgia-Alabama state line, according to Luke Higuchi, president of Survivors Against Forced Exit. Mr. Higuchi is following the bikers by car for the first few days of the trip.
Both young men are second-generation Unification Church members whose mothers are Japanese and whose fathers are American citizens. They say their goal is to raise public awareness of the fact that since 1966 more than 4,000 Unification Church members in Japan, and many members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have been abducted and confined for months or years of psychological harassment in an effort to break their faith. Some have been raped or tortured. Hundreds are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to journalists covering the issue in Japan.
Bishop Mark Hernandez, Chair of the Texas Chapter of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), stated that preparations are underway to welcome the Freedom Rders into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex during the first week of the New Year.
Contributed by Douglas Burton in Atlanta.