TOKYO, Jan. 23 -(Kyodo)– A Justice Ministry panel on Monday approved an extension of the surveillance period on the religious cult formerly known as AUM Shinrikyo for another three years from the end of this month, the panel said.
The Public Security Examination Commission has also required that the cult reports on its profit-making businesses to the Public Security Intelligence Agency performance so that the authorities can check its financial situation.
Information and materials, including the outcome of the agency’s on-site inspections of the cult’s facilities, have suggested Asahara’s lingering influence, the commission said.
The Public Security Intelligence Agency, also under the Justice Ministry, called for a three-year extension of the surveillance period in November last year, saying cult members still believe Asahara is at the summit of the hierarchic structure and that they maintain their faith and obedience in him.
The cult still retains Asahara and five others who were allegedly involved in the 1995 fatal sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system as its members, the agency also asserted.
The law for restricting the activities of certain groups, which went into effect in December 1999, allows the authorities to keep watch on groups that pose a threat to the public.
It stipulates that the surveillance period for such a group may be extended if, for example, someone who has engineered indiscriminate mass killings continues to have influence over the group.
The cult had called for a termination of the six-year-old surveillance saying in an interview with commission members earlier this month that reform in the group has been in progress.
The group was also opposed to the plan requiring it to report on its businesses.
Asahara was sentenced to death by the Tokyo District Court for his role in 13 criminal cases including the fatal sarin attack. His defense counsel has appealed to the Tokyo High Court.