Mainichi Daily News, Jan. 23, 2003
The AUM Shinrikyo cult is set to remain under the surveillance of public security authorities for three more years after a government panel concluded the cult still poses a danger to society, officials said Thursday.
The Public Security Examination Commission officially decided Thursday to keep the cult under the surveillance of the Public Security Investigation Agency for three more years in response to a request made by the agency.
Agency officials appreciated the decision. “The decision is appropriate in that the commission upheld the agency’s claim. We are determined to clarify the activities of the cult and provide as much information on it as possible to local governments,” Shotaro Tochigi, deputy director general of the agency said.
Fumihiro Joyu, the nominal leader of the cult, expressed his willingness to accept the decision and cooperate with the agency in inspections it will conduct over the three-year period. “I understand that the commission urges us to change our principles. We need to discuss it.”
The Public Security Examination Commission announced its decision, and notified the agency and the cult on Thursday. The decision is to come into force on Feb. 1 after it is publicized in a government gazette early next week.
Noting that AUM founder Shoko Asahara, 47, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, still wields huge influence on the cult, the commission recognized Thursday that “the cult could commit another indiscriminate mass murder.”
The commission dismissed the argument made by the cult to the effect that Asahara is no longer its supreme leader.
Moreover, the commission underscored the need to continue to monitor the cult’s activities, pointing out that a Russian follower planned to storm the Tokyo Detention Center to rescue Asahara and that the cult is still trying to brainwash its followers.
With the decision, law enforcers, including police and public security inspectors, will be authorized to raid the cult’s facilities over the next three-year period. The cult will also be legally required to report the names and addresses of its followers as well as its assets to the agency.
Asahara is standing trial over a series of the cult’s crimes, including its 1995 nerve gas attacks on Tokyo subway trains that left 12 people dead and its murder of an anti-AUM lawyer and his family members in 1989.