TOKYO, Oct. 26–(Kyodo) — Fumihiro Joyu, leader of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, said Thursday he and his followers are considering abandoning educational materials that promote the personality cult of AUM founder Shoko Asahara, as part of their efforts to emerge from Asahara’s shadow.
Joyu, 43, said in an interview with Kyodo News that the materials he has in mind include photos and videotapes of the former guru and that he and his group members plan to sort out the items to be ditched and decide when to do so by the end of November.
“To break away from the former leader, we’ll advance reform of our educational materials, and make the changes visible by February next year,” Joyu said at the cult’s premises in Tokyo.
“We’ll then decide on a new name for our group and educational materials,” the former AUM spokesman said.
Joyu heads a group of followers who are critical of Asahara, 51, and agreed to abandon such materials in the cult, which now calls itself Aleph. Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is on death row, having recently had his sentence finalized.
But Joyu indicated that even his group may have difficulty in determining which materials could directly lead to individual worship of Asahara as many of them, such as Buddhist sutras and books written by Asahara, have been used by the cult followers for a long time.
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“We’re going to abandon anything that can be associated with the former leader, including meditation methods that worship him and the name ‘Guru Asahara,'” Joyu said.
Joyu said he will discuss with other group members exactly which items should be covered by the policy and try to iron out differences among them.
In September, the Supreme Court finalized the death sentence for Asahara over the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in which 12 people were killed and other charges.