Kyodo, May 7, 2003
NAGANO (Kyodo) About 50 members of the Pana Wave Laboratory sect, known for its white attire and its belief that the world will descend into chaos on May 15, cut across Nagano Prefecture on Tuesday, apparently heading for a facility it owns in Yamanashi Prefecture.
The group left Kiyomi in Gifu Prefecture, where members had been camping out on a village road, at around 7:30 p.m. on Monday. A convoy of slow-moving white vehicles then entered the village of Kaida in Nagano Prefecture around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
The convoy picked up speed in the afternoon, and was traveling between 30 kph and 40 kph as it entered Yamanashi Prefecture a little before 5 p.m., local authorities said.
During the journey, members were questioned by police officers at the Nagamine Pass, on the prefectural border between Gifu and Nagano, as well as in the town of Hakushu in Yamanashi Prefecture. Although there is a group-related facility located in the village of Oizumi, Yamanashi Prefecture, village leaders voiced hope Tuesday that they can stop the convoy from entering the locality, demanding that authorities take more serious action to counter the group’s activities.
Pana Wave members believe that their white garments protect them from electromagnetic waves.
The police are keeping the sect under round-the-clock surveillance as it roams along the mountain roads of central Japan. The convoy is also being followed by dozens of media vehicles.
On Monday morning, a statement was issued by the group, allegedly featuring the words of Pana Wave leader Yuko Chino, a 69-year-old woman who is reported to have terminal cancer.
Pana Wave members said her condition is slowly deteriorating.
According to the statement, which is characterized by strange jargon, the “approach of the Nibiru star will be delayed nearly a week from Monday, and those who do not listen to this message will face death.”
Chino also stated in a memo, reportedly dictated to a member of the group, that Pana Wave was “driven to carry out” the feeding of Tama-chan, a popular seal that has been spotted in rivers around Tokyo since last year.
Pana Wave has reported links to a group that carried out an abortive attempt to capture Tama-chan in Yokohama in March.
Having spent the winter in Izumi, Fukui Prefecture, the sect moved to a forest road on the borders of the Hachiman and Yamato townships in Gifu on April 25, with members living in roadside tents.
On Friday, they left this site following protests by local residents and police directives, moving to a new location in Kiyomi, about 20 km north on National Route 257.
Faced with further protests and police orders, the sect agreed to move to a village road at about 2 a.m. on Saturday. Members stayed there over the weekend, claiming they needed to repair their vehicles.
Pana Wave, which has roamed around Tottori, Hyogo, Kyoto, Fukui, Shiga and Gifu prefectures, is under police surveillance as authorities are concerned about its cult-like activities.
As well as dressing from head to toe in white, members claim they are protecting their leader from electromagnetic waves and also maintain that the North and South poles will switch polarities May 15 and plunge the world into chaos.
According to the National Police Agency, Pana Wave was established around 1977. It boasts some 1,200 members nationwide.