Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Dec. 2, 2002
The Public Security Investigation Agency asked a security examination panel Monday to keep the AUM Shinrikyo cult under its surveillance for three more years.
The agency filed the request with the Public Security Examination Commission after deeming that the cult, of which several members have been convicted of mass murder, including the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, maintains the potential to carry out indiscriminate mass murder.
Agency Director General Yukio Machida underscored the need to keep the cult under surveillance. “The cult poses as (nominal leader Fumihiro) Joyu’s cult. However, Joyu views (founder Shoko) Asahara as its supreme leader. It’s effectively Asahara’s cult,” Machida told a news conference late Monday.
After hearing of the request for extended surveillance, a leader of a resident group in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, gave a sigh of relief as the cult’s main office is located in the ward’s Karasuyama district.
“I now feel relieved because the expiration of the surveillance would pose a threat to us,” said Kazuyuki Furuma, the leader. Members of his group have kept watch on three condominiums in the district where Joyu and other Aum members live.
But the cult denied it poses a threat. “Former leader Chizuo Matsumoto (Asahara’s real name) no longer has any influence on us. The request for an extension of the surveillance deviates from the purpose of the law,” cult spokesman Hiroshi Araki said.
The examination commission is set to decide whether to approve the agency’s request by the end of January when the current three-year surveillance period will expire.
In January 2000, the commission placed AUM Shinrikyo under the surveillance of the Public Security Investigation Agency for three years under a 1999 law aimed at regulating organizations involved in indiscriminate mass murder.
The agency has since raided 88 locations in 16 prefectures connected to the cult in accordance with the law. As a result, the agency has concluded that Asahara effectively continues to head AUM, that it maintains its dangerous principles of recommending that followers carry out murders, and therefore that followers have a potential danger of carrying out indiscriminate mass murder.
The law that came into force in December 1999 allows the agency and police to raid any organization under the agency’s surveillance at any time and requires the organization to submit a report to the authorities on its members and assets every three months.
Organizations that have a potential danger of committing indiscriminate mass murder can be placed under the agency’s surveillance for three years in accordance with the law.