Tokyo, Apr. 18 — (Kyodo) — The Justice Ministry’s Public Security Intelligence Agency raided 11 Aum Shinrikyo cult facilities across Japan on Tuesday in compliance with a law to place dangerous groups under government surveillance.
The raids, involving about 160 agency officers, are believed to have been conducted to prevent the Aum members from taking action when the death sentence on cult founder Shoko Asahara, 51, is expected to be finalized.
Tuesday’s large-scale raids were the first on AUM facilities since the agency made on-the-spot inspections of them in February 2004, shortly before the Tokyo District Court sentenced Asahara to death.
Asahara’s real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.
Tuesday’s raids took place in places including Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, where Aum is based, Sapporo, Sendai, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokushima and Fukuoka.
Aum renamed itself Aleph in 2000.