Japan Trip a Success!
To view photos of trip click here,
We are happy to report mission accomplished in Japan . The trip went very smooth and much education was given to help those locally see the importance of why WT policy on abuse needs to be changed. We arrived in Tokyo , on the eighth of February and stayed with local people that helped with the seminars across Japan . The trip to bethel happened the following day it was about two hours to the bethel facility and home office of Jehovah's witnesses in Japan . The complex is a mammoth operation that covers over a city block. When you consider the cost of land in Japan the complex could easily be worth close to a billion dollars. Typically as with most Bethels the gates are open and there is a steady influx of people moving in and out of the complex, especially around noon.
We arrived at 11:30 am and it looked more like a building under siege.
Huge gates covered all entrances of the complex and it looked like a ghost town. It appeared everyone was hiding. There were eight abuse survivor advocates that were present to support the press conference none spoke English so it was translated to Japanese as it was delivered.
We rolled out the silentlambs banner at the front entrance and used some sound equipment to make the following comments at the press conference as I held a stuffed lamb,
Thank you for coming today. We are here to speak out for victims of child rape who have been silenced and now know they have a right to speak out. We call them silentlambs. Behind me stands the Japan home office for Watchtower. It is directed by a group of 11 men who hold legislative, executive, and judicial power over a world-wide religious order known as Jehovah's Witnesses. These men, who are known as a Governing Body (leadership) for 6 million Jehovah's Witnesses world-wide, have chosen to defend an indefensible regulation that has led and continues to lead to unimaginable damage to children who have suffered or who are now suffering sexual abuse.
We are here to ask to meet with the Branch Committee deliver a flyer and ask that it be distributed to all Kingdom Halls across Japan in the interests of protecting children from sexual abuse. This flyer simply asks to report all crimes of sexual abuse of children to the police. Worldwide Jehovah's Witnesses policy requires untrained elders to investigate the crime of rape, this must stop.
Today I am here to represent those with many faithful years of service as Jehovah's Witnesses. We are here to deliver a message for the children. In the last three years over one thousand toy stuffed lambs have been delivered to Kingdom Halls and Branch offices of Jehovah's Witnesses twelve countries around the world. These lambs stand as a reminder to support those who have been silenced by Watchtower policy when they were raped.
It is bad policy that requires unauthorized untrained men to illegally investigate the crime of child molestation.
It is bad policy that appoints child molesters as elders after 20 years of not getting caught again.
It is bad policy that puts child molesters in a position to go to any home in Japan on an regular basis accompanied by fellow members who do not even know what they have done.
It is bad Watchtower policy that remains unchanged due to the inaction of Jehovah's Witnesses' Governing Body after silentlambs, along with thousands of abuse survivors, have begged for almost five years now, for needed changes.
The arrogance of Jehovah's Witnesses' leadership (Governing Body) must end they need to change their policy and must apologize to the victims whose lives their policies have destroyed. Victims who have been painfully conned and threatened out of their innocence by child molesters are now being conned and threatened into silence by the local representatives of Jehovah's Witnesses' leadership around the world. These men consistently teach their adherents that humility is the course of wisdom yet they arrogantly stick to an unwise course that punishes their most precious members. We officially invite any who decry the abuse of children to join silentlambs in this peaceful demonstration to push for a change in policy to protect the children. We encourage all abuse survivors to speak out and never allow anyone to make you a silent lamb.
silentlambs, inc, PO Box 311 , Calvert City , Kentucky 42029 USA .
When we finished the press conference we answered any questions that were asked and then went to the intercom at the gate to keep our appointment with the branch committee. A week earlier we sent this letter to the branch in Japan ,
PO BOX 311 , Calvert City , KY 42029
February 1, 2005
I wish to request a meeting with the Japan Branch Committee on February 10, at 1 pm to discuss Watchtower Policy on child abuse in Japan . I also would like to see how we might work together to assist the Governing Body in the U.S.A. to adjust policy for better protection of Jehovah's Witness children.
I realize this is short notice but I am traveling several thousand miles to be in your area and feel our meeting could be very productive.
Below as you will note are the added sentences in a letter written to the United Kingdom congregations that did not appear in the letter to all congregations in the U.S.A. dated 5-24-02. It has given many of our American brothers and sisters pause to see the difference between these two letters. The U. K. letter seems to go one step further than the U.S.A. counterpart. It states:
"Our position is that the secular authorities deal with crime while elders deal with sin. To avoid a miscarriage of justice elders must not interfere with, prevent, or impede any secular investigation into child abuse. They must ensure that secular laws are adhered to." (Romans 13:1)
"To that end they are instructed to contact the legal dept at Bethel whenever they receive information from even one person who alleges that child abuse has occurred. When a report is received guidance is given by the legal dept to ensure that:
1. The alleged victim and other potential victims are protected from possible abuse.
2. The council is given to report crime to the proper authorities and to comply with any additional "legal requirements."
The elders know that it is the absolute right of the victim, his or her family or anyone else to report the matter to the authorities, if they so wish." (Galatians 6:5)
This difference gives credence to the following questions:
1. Why are U. K. brothers and sisters informed that all child abuse is reported to the authorities when in the U.S.A. they are not?
2. Why did the recent Panorama program in July, have several cases that indicated exactly the opposite occurred when U. K. Jehovah's Witness children were molested?
3. Why has there been no acknowledgement or apology to the victims who were hurt by Watchtower Policy?
4. Why did various police officials acknowledge that Jehovah's Witnesses did not cooperate with them when child molestation was investigated in the U. K.?
Questions like these deserve an honest and Christian answer to help the public know where the truth lay. We would like to discuss what the current policy is for Japan congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in order to see which policy they are following. In addition, it might be helpful to Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan to see that the local Branch is willing to make a public statement on such an important issue to protect children.
In good faith I look forward to our meeting. As the Governing Body stated in the 5-24-02 letter to all congregations; " The moral cleanness of the congregation continues to be of vital concern to the "faithful and discreet slave." (Matthew 24:45) This gives me hope we can find a productive basis to encourage the Governing Body to take the Christian course by placing the protection of our children as the highest priority in a religion that claims to be the only channel to God.
Thank you for your consideration and along with this letter goes my warm Christian love.
Very truly yours,
William H. Bowen, National Director
So there we were at the intercom ready to meet for our appointment. I pressed the button and a voice in Japanese spoke first. I mentioned that I was William H. Bowen and I was here for my appointment. The following is a transcript of that conversation,
WHB: This is William H. Bowen I am here for my appointment to meet with the Branch committee, may I come in?
WT: We are in receipt of your letter and we do not want to meet with you.
WHB: As you brothers know from the letter our purpose is to try and protect children. I have traveled over 6,000 miles to be here today and feel that it would be advantageous for us to communicate and try to help each other.
WT: We do not want to talk to you about anything to do with child abuse.
WHB: Don't you think the protection of children is important?
WT: The branch committee is not interested in discussing this in anyway and this conversation is ended.
The intercom clicked off and there was no further response. So we see the real concern of the organization toward children.
We once again left a little lamb in the gate along with a helpful service bulletin on the importance or reporting child abuse to the police. The little lamb once again made a statement with regard to truth.
That truth is something men in high places continue to cover up and allow the rape of children. In Japan a high emphasis is placed on honor. As I went from seminar to seminar we clearly showed how dishonorable the actions of the organization has been toward children. Each time when presented with an opportunity to try and face real issues in the interest of protecting children Watchtower leadership takes the cowardly approach and refuse to deal with the truth of the matter. Where is the honor in that course of action? The shame of their actions stands as a testament for all to see. The have no honor. The Japanese Branch Committee stands without honor for all the brothers and sisters to see. It is good for all to see this as it helps them to understand why the problem of current WT policy on abuse continues to allow children to be raped.
After leaving the lamb in the front gate we gave t-shirts to all in attendance and with quite a few hugs and bows we left for the next leg of our journey.
The following day we left for downtown Tokyo to have the first conference. The attendance was very good and several journalists were in the audience.
We started our presentation with a scripture, Lev 20; 4,5. .
4 And if the people of the land should deliberately hide their eyes from that man when he gives any of his offspring to MoŽlech by not putting him to death, 5 then I, for my part, shall certainly fix my face against that man and his family, and I shall indeed cut him and all those who have immoral intercourse along with him in having immoral intercourse with MoŽlech off from among their people.
The scripture points out that hiding your eyes from children being hurt was something God would punish without mercy. It shows the responsibility of anyone that knows of a problem and yet refuses to act to protect children. Do any Jehovah's Witnesses really think focusing on the preaching work will make Jehovah forget about the protection of children? The four hour program pointed out how Current Watchtower Policy puts children in danger as well as the purposeful actions of the organization to silence victims while protecting child molesters. We also made a presentation regarding Michael Jackson and his current problems created and caused by his background as a JW. Each word was translated to Japanese and it was a major effort in helping those in attendance to be educated on abuse issues. We were met afterward with great appreciation and several s tori es of abuse within the organization that were related. The cases seemed to range from physical abuse to sexual abuse as well, in each case it was covered up in the organization and not reported to proper authority. We also were able to help others see the correlation to other high control type groups. Many commented how similar the organization actions were too many of the cults that operated in Japan .
The following day we traveled by airplane to Osaka in the southern part of Japan .
As my friend and escort pointed out this is the oldest part of Japan , he said it was kind of like to Arkansas of Japan. We stayed at a very nice hotel in which the conference was to be held. The hotel was located over a hot springs and they had a large hot public bath in the basement. It was a new experience learning the procedure and protocol for taking a hot bath in Japan . In Japan bathing is a separate experience from the bathroom. In each home the toilet is in separate room from the sink and bath. Each toilet has a sink of sorts mounted on the back of the tank and when you flush it then water flows from a spout you wash your hands under into the refill tank. It is efficient and was something new to experience.
The conference started the following day with several in attendance. There was good support and several questions were asked. Journalist in attendance did some interviews for upcoming magazine articles on this topic. We also were able to offer advice on a cult leader that was identified to be molesting several children. We hope to see this man put in prison soon with at least six children coming forward.
Next we traveled by 747 to the northern part of Japan a city called Sapporo. The climate zone in this area is similar to Wisconsin , USA . The temperature was in the 20's and the snow storm came in as we arrived.
It was a complete climate change from southern Japan where the temperature was in the 60's when we left from there. It was kind of like traveling from Georgia to Wisconsin in the winter. We were met at the airport by supporters in Sapporo they were very helpful and helped get things set up for the conference there.
Once again we had several in attendance that were very appreciative of the presentation. We also had an evening session and a new group to meet due to so many in attendance.
At each meeting abuse cases were discussed and often involving Jehovah's Witnesses while discussing other groups as well. At the end of each conference we encourage participants to deliver lambs and notices to local Kingdom Halls as well as to become proactive in abuse awareness groups in Japan to help protect children. It was pointed out that each person can make a difference and if they just do something and it protects just one child it is worth the effort. I also mentioned the effort they put forth will protect children that have yet to be born. What better work could they do than that?
We left Sapporo the following day to get back home. It was a case of planes, trains, and automobiles to get back to Tokyo . Altogether it took about six to seven hours to get back to where we started. It was an exhausting trip but we got the job done none the less and were glad to do so.
We were able to do some sight seeing while there which included a 1400 year old Buddhist temple that was located on a large estate.
There were hundreds of deer located on the property that were just like pets. You could feed and pet them while you walked around.
The temple had a 100 ft Buddha inside with all kinds of ways for you to make donations to assist Buddha to hear your prayers. They had prayer planks, sticks, papers, candles, and incense all about $5 each. With each one you wrote out your prayer they would take them and burn them together on one big fire. That way Buddha could answer them all at once. Nothing like being organized!
The trip overall was an amazing journey to see another culture of wonderful people. The Japanese people are very kind, helpful and honest. I never at anytime felt in any danger or in a bad place. Only about 1% of Japanese speaks English so it was a real assistance to have someone with you that could translate and navigate the trains, planes and subway routes. My host was more than gracious and made the trip very accommodating.
We hope the trip was able to accomplish an education for those that attended the conferences and in the end will protect children in Japan from the dishonorable actions of Jehovah's Witnesses leadership.