Peacebuilding Program Seminars

The Intersection of Cults and Violent Extremism

What Intervention is Necessary?
From Global De-radicalization Efforts

Organized by: Sasakawa Peace Foundation
The shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022 shook the world and ushered in the threat of a new era of terrorism. The suspect's motive was reported to be a long-standing grudge against a specific organization, drawing attention to the political nature and negative social impact of cults (sects) related to ideology and religion. In the postwar period, especially in Japan, these problems were not subject to public intervention because of their ideological and religious nature, and there was little public awareness of the social impact of such groups. This has been pointed out as the reason for the series of Aum Shinrikyo incidents since the late 1980s. The shooting of former Prime Minister Abe has deepened awareness of the urgent need for both the public and private sectors to take various measures against terrorism and to care for people and their families who have been exposed to mind control in an age of increasing social isolation.

Closely related to these issues, countermeasures against violent extremism (preventing/countering violent extremism: P/CVE), including Islamic extremism, and experience regarding counter-terrorism measures and the reintegration of ex-combatants into society have been accumulated and shared since 9/11. In addition, discussions continue about practical countermeasures, the process of "radicalization" and "de-radicalization,” as well as the definitions of "extremism" and "terrorist," which are highly political and may involve the imposition of values by those in power.

In light of this situation, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation is holding a symposium entitled "The Intersection of Cults and Violent Extremism: What Intervention is Necessary? From the Perspective of Global De-radicalization Efforts." Dr. Daniel Koehler, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal for Deradicalization, the world's leading journal in this field, will speak about the global trend of radicalization, which is rarely introduced in Japan. Dr. Koehler is a practitioner who has worked in the field on the de-radicalization of right-wing, left-wing, and Islamic extremist members, and has developed a variety of methodologies. Professor Nishida, who has conducted research on cult issues and mind control and was in charge of psychological evaluation and expert witness for the accused in the Aum Shinrikyo case, will also provide analysis of Japan's findings and future efforts focusing on mind control, including radicalization and de-radicalization in cults. We hope you will join us for this valuable opportunity to consider how to approach dealing with crimes and violence involving ideology and religion.
Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation 
Tel: +81-3-5157-5181

For media inquiries:
Tel: +81-3-5157-5395


16:30 JST Reception 
17:00-17:05 JST Opening Remarks
Ms. Maho Nakayama (Director, Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation)
17:05-17:10 JST Introduction
Dr. Akiko Horiba (Senior Program Officer, Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation)
17:10-18:00 JST Presentation
Dr. Daniel Koehler (Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Journal for Deradicalization)
Prof. Kimiaki Nishida (Professor, Department of Interpersonal and Social Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Rissho University)
18:00-18:30 JST Comments and Q&A
Dr. Akiko Horiba (Senior Program Officer, Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation)
Prof. Tadashi Ogawa (Professor, Atomi University)
18:30 JST Closing


Dr. Daniel Koehler

Dr. Daniel Koehler

Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Journal for Deradicalization


Based in Germany, Dr. Koehler conducts research on terrorism, radicalization, and de-radicalization (right-wing, left-wing, and Islamic extremism) processes and programs; has worked in the field on de-radicalization involving family counselors in multiple programs for over 12 years; developed methodologies for de-radicalization; in 2014 Co-founder of the first peer-reviewed open access journal on de-radicalization (The Journal for Deradicalization,, founded with the German Institute for Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies (GIRDS) in 2014; first courtroom expert on de-radicalization in the United States District Court in Minneapolis in 2016; first courtroom expert on de-radicalization in First court expert; Editorial Board Member of the International Center for Counterterrorism in The Hague in July 2017; Research Fellow at the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) at American University in Washington, DC in November 2019; and in the United Kingdom in 2022. He was also appointed Associate Fellow at the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), a dual appointment. D. (Political Science, Princeton University). His most recent publication is From Traitor to Zealot: Exploring the Phenomenon of Side-Switching in Extremism and Terrorism (Cambridge University).

Prof. Kimiaki Nishida

Prof. Kimiaki Nishida

Professor, Department of Interpersonal and Social Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Rissho University


Professor Nishida specializes in social psychology and conducts research on mind control issues. He is a former president of the Japan Group Dynamics Association, a research partner of the United Nations Security Council's Executive Committee on Counterterrorism, and a representative director of the Japan Association for the Exclusion of Cults. He has served as an expert witness in the Aum Shinrikyo case and has been summoned to trial courts on numerous occasions. He has given commentary in the media and spoken at numerous lectures and symposiums sponsored by the national government and government agencies throughout Japan. He has also served as a member of the Consumer Affairs Agency's "Study Group on Countermeasures against Malicious Business Practices such as Psychic Sales" and "Study Group on Stealth Marketing," both of which were established in response to the shooting incident involving former Prime Minister Abe. D. (Sociology, Kansai University Graduate School). His major publications include "What is Mind Control?" (Kinokuniya Shoten), "Why are people manipulated and controlled?" (Sakura-sha), and "Tricks of deceit: Laws of the mind you must know" (PHP Shinsho).

Prof. Tadashi Ogawa

Prof. Tadashi Ogawa

Professor, Atomi University


Professor Ogawa joined the Japan Foundation in 1982 and served as Director of the Foundation's New Delhi Office, Secretary General of the Japan-America Center, Director of the Southeast Asia Directorate (Jakarta), and Director of the Planning Department before assuming his current position in 2017. D. (International Relations, Waseda University). His major publications include "Indonesia: The Search for a Multi-ethnic State" (Iwanami Shinsho), "What is Fundamentalism? From America, the Middle East to Japan" (Kodansha Gendai Shinsho), "Indonesia: The Changing Face of an Islamic Power" (Shincho Sensho), and "Self-Searching Asian Nations" (Akashi Shoten).

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