Kyodo (Japan), Nov. 23, 2002
TOKYO — The Public Security Investigation Agency has decided to file a request with the Public Security Examination Commission to keep the Aum Shinrikyo cult under surveillance for another three years and reported the decision to Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, sources close to the case said Friday.
The agency has been monitoring the activities of the cult, which has renamed itself “Aleph,” under an anti-Aum law that stipulates the cult must be left alone once the commission determines it no longer poses a danger to the public.
The Public Security Investigation Agency wants to extend the surveillance on ground that Chizuo Matsumoto, founder of the cult who has been held responsible for the 1995 nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway, “still wields power over the cult” and can order indiscriminate mass killings.
Acting under the powers of the current surveillance authority, the agency has kept 88 Aum facilities in 16 prefectures under watch since January 2000.
The current period of surveillance for the cult will expire at the end of January next year. The agency plans to file the request at the beginning of December.
Matsumoto, 47, known to his followers as Shoko Asahara, has been on trial since April 1996 for his role in the 1995 gas attack and other crimes attributed to Aum. He has denied the charges.
Twelve people died and thousands were injured in the March 20, 1995 subway gas attack.
The cult filed a petition with the Public Security Investigation Agency in August demanding that it cancel the policy of keeping the cult under surveillance for another three years.
It also filed a request with the Public Security Examination Commission on Nov 6 that it cease to be subject to surveillance, arguing it no longer poses a public threat.