A 13-year-old schoolgirl has been killed in an exorcism by her cultist father and a Buddhist monk, drowning after having been forced to undergo the ritual of the “waterfall austerity” over a hundred times.
The incident transpired in a Kumamoto prefecture town, where a 50-year-old man and a 56-year-old monk resolved to drive out the evil spirits which they believed possessed the man’s 13-year-old daughter.
Her father had apparently quit his job 4 years ago after finding religion, and became a full-time cultist from this time on. His daughter was described as quiet and normal by her classmates, but had ceased coming to school some months previously.
She was strapped into a chair with belts around her arms and legs around 3AM on the night of the 27th, and then had her face forcibly doused with a stream of water continuously falling from an outlet 2.5m above her for 5 minutes at a rate of 40 litres a minute.
She suffocated to death during the ordeal, which she had apparently been forced to endure 100 times over the last 3 months.
Locals had apparently heard her screaming on many occasions, and the cult had been the subject of many complaints due to its endless banging of drums, chantings of sutras, and comings and goings late at night.
The murder came to light when the girl’s father called her school to inform them that his daughter “died in the pursuit of the waterf austerities.”
Police arrested both men on manslaughter charges soon after.
Her father maintains his innocence, saying it was necessary to drive the evil forces from her, but regrets that it ended in her death.
She had been absent from school for 7 months, but despite 6 visits to her home her teacher was repeatedly told she was not home by her father, an explanation the school apparently accepted without further question.
Local educational authorities are not keen to accept any responsibility for not noticing one of their pupils was being victimised by a cult:
“If a pupil is ill all we can do is ask their parents. Her father was not behaving suspiciously, so we do not think we can be faulted.
We do wonder whether we might have been able to do something to prevent this, though.
We trusted the parents, and this is the result. We wish to ensure this kind of incident is never repeated.”
The cult to which the men belonged, known as Nakayama Shingo Shusho, was originally founded by Yasaka Kakue, a Shingon sect monk who lived from 1870-1942 and who formed three such sects over the course of his life, each of which is now apparently ruled by one of his descendants.
Shingon Buddhism itself is noted for being esoteric and highly secretive (such sects are hardly known in the west), and the Nakayama group is barely known even in Japan – although like a number of similar groups, they have constructed a huge temple complex deep in the mountains:
The Japanese government says the group was formally recognised as a religious organisation in 1952, and currently has about 350 temples and churches, and as of 2008 “305,555” believers.
The organisation has yet to make any formal comment on the incident, although believers have been quick to denounce the killing as a distortion of their teachings, claiming the practice is supposed to be a voluntary one for cleansing the soul – and that they have no idea where anyone could get it into their heads that it could be used in exorcising evil spirits.
Although most Japanese are essentially irreligious, much of what is lumped together as “Shinto” and “Buddhism” in Japan actually consists of diverse and not infrequently highly cultish and bizarre “new religions,” Buddhist sects and Shinto (animistic) traditions.
These are not generally subject to a great deal of outside scrutiny – save when it transpires they have been sexually enslaving members or plotting to gas the Tokyo subway.
Online there is little appreciation of the mortal necessity of driving evil spirits from schoolgirls:
“As a father, I can’t forgive the father who could do this.”
“The evil spirit which was assailing her was her father.”
“The number of people religion kills vastly exceeds those it saves.”
“The girl they drowned to death was the righteous one – she never gave in to her father and the monk.”
“Those filthy monks claimed another victim!? And a young girl as well! Nobunaga had the right idea – secularise the nation, tax the monasteries and force the monks back into secular life!”
“The possessed ones were clearly the monk and her father.”
“Tax the religious entities already!”
“Since when can you force someone to undergo an ‘austerity’ anyway? The whole point is you do voluntarily?”
“Religious people are all nuts, as you might expect.”
“The dregs being tricked into this rubbish by swindling cults, as ever. They really ought to tax these organisations.”
“As if they have 300,000 believers. That’s probably just what they claim.”
“Another mini-Aum Shinrikyo. These new religions ought to be destroyed.”
“What kind of idiot is frightened of evil spirits when there are men who will do this kind of thing around.”