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DVD shows how easily cults can recruit young people

2015-07-15 Source:THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

According to a report from ajw.asahi.com on May 7, 2015, working with lawyers and psychological experts, victims of cult groups have released a DVD to warn young people of the danger of joining religious cults and antisocial organizations. 

The DVD was created by the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery (JSCPR) to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Aum Shinrikyo’s nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that left 13 people dead and thousands sickened. 

The DVD is titled Cult: Sugu Soba ni Aru Kiki (Cult: Crisis just beside you). 

What is important is that people understand cults can exist right beside them, said Kimiaki Nishida, a psychological professor at Rissho University who serves as chairman of the group. 

Nishida added that some cult groups are currently working to enlist recruits as young as junior and senior high school students. 

I will be happy if our DVD will be used for classes and orientations at schools, he said. 

The group, formed after the March 20, 1995, attack by Aum Shinrikyo, works to develop strategies to combat groups that violate human rights and exhibit antisocial behavior. These include religious cults and groups that claim to hold self-improvement seminars, but often have other aims. 

The DVD features interviews with five former cult members who warn students how skillfully cult members can deceive them. 

A woman interviewed says she joined a cultist group at a state-run university believing it was simply a volleyball club. 

Links with members came to be more and more important to me, the woman said. I felt they gave me the meaning of life, which then led to a thought that I was relieved thanks to them. 

In the documentary, Takashi Uriu, a JSCPR director, shows through role play how cult members entice new recruits. 

A typical technique is adopting an over-the-top friendly attitude, even toward strangers, such as suddenly tapping them on the shoulder and saying hello. 

A student playing the role of an individual wooed by a cult member eventually reveals to the cultist his Line social messaging account, illustrating how easily young people can be fooled into cults. 

I did not feel a sense of wariness, and rather thought joining the group may lead to more connections with people, the student says in the video. 

The Cult: Sugu Soba ni Aru Kiki DVD is available for 8,000 yen ($66.90).