Corporal punishment, specifically whipping, has been systemically used by followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group against their children in Japan, a survey showed Tuesday.

Submitting the results of the survey to the welfare ministry, a group of children of followers asked the ministry to make appropriate responses.

Takeshi Komatsu, a child of a Jehovah's Witnesses follower, says he was whipped by his mother. | KYODO
Takeshi Komatsu, a child of a Jehovah's Witnesses follower, says he was whipped by his mother. | KYODO

The survey found that about 30% of such "second-generation followers" had been whipped by their parents with items such as leather belts and electric cords since before they turned three years old and some 75% since before they entered elementary school.

The most cited reason was "napping or talking during congregations." Others included "answering back to parents" and "playing with a schoolmate."

Some respondents said they have been suffering depression as a result of whipping.

In the online survey, conducted in September 2021, 255 former followers and children of followers between the ages of 10 and 69 across Japan gave answers.

"I still cannot forget the sight of children screaming after they were taken into a large room at a congregation when I was a child," a 44-year-old victim said, stressing that Jehovah's Witnesses should reflect on what followers have done.

In February, a group of lawyers started supporting those second-generation followers.

In a statement issued on March 1, the Japanese branch of Jehovah's Witness said it does not accept child abuse.