TOKYO, March 8–(Kyodo) — AUM Shinrikyo leader Fumihiro Joyu said Thursday he has formally left the doomsday cult along with his followers and plans to set up a new organization in April or May to signal his intention of fully leaving the influence of AUM founder Shoko Asahara.
But the Public Security Intelligence Agency said it will closely monitor Joyu’s group, with its official saying the agency believes Joyu is still under Asahara’s influence.
AUM, which renamed itself Aleph in 2000, has been divided between Joyu’s group which is critical of Asahara and another group supportive of him.
Speaking at a press conference, Joyu, 44, said the move is aimed at promoting his group’s resolve to leave the influence of Asahara, who is currently on death row for the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system that left 12 people dead and other crimes committed by AUM.
“We’ll urge (Asahara) to repent (for the crimes) until the last moment before the death penalty is executed,” Joyu said.
“We’ll disclose as much information as possible about our new group and show that we’re not under the influence of the death row inmate Matsumoto,” Joyu said, referring to Asahara’s real name Chizuo Matsumoto.
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Joyu, widely known as a former AUM spokesman, gave the press conference after his group late Wednesday notified Naruhito Noda, 40, who is expected to head the cult, that a total of 65 members would leave it, of whom 58 are expected to join Joyu’s group, according to group members.
Aleph now has some 400 live-in and 690 lay members.
Joyu also said his group will renew contact with an administrator for AUM, which was declared bankrupt in 1996, and try to provide compensation worth 8 million yen per year for victims of the AUM-related crimes.
Commenting on Joyu’s action, a senior agency official said, “We believe Joyu is still under the influence of the death row inmate Matsumoto judging from situations surrounding his preaching and religious training.”
Aleph said Thursday that it will compensate victims of AUM-related crimes in a sincere manner taking a hard look at the era under Joyu, who became its leader in 2002.
The Joyu group and the other faction have been using different facilities and financial resources since the spring of last year.