Fukui Prefecture tells cult to stay out

Kyodo (Japan), May 9, 2003

FUKUI — Fukui Prefecture on Friday declared the white-robed Panawave Laboratory cult — which has been driving around central Japan in a caravan of all-white motor vehicles — persona non-grata and urged its members not to enter the prefecture.

“We strongly urge that do not head toward Fukui Prefecture,” the Fukui prefectural government said in a statement released in the early hours Friday.

Fukui prefectural officials moved against the group after learning that their caravan of about 20 cars, which moved from Nagano Prefecture to Gifu Prefecture Thursday evening, told police officials they were heading toward Fukui, where the group has three facilities.

Official antagonism toward the group, which believes white clothing protects them from electromagnetic waves, intensified as local authorities, wary of its cult-like activities, has sought to prevent them from traveling to areas within their jurisdiction.

On Thursday, National Police Agency Director General Hidehiko Sato said the police will continue to monitor the group due to public concerns arising from the “grotesque” attire and behavior of its members.

“There are two types of anxiety currently about this group — the grotesqueness of members’ outfits and behavior plus a sense they are strange,” Sato told a press conference.

“We have no plan to change our policy to build up efforts to resolve these anxieties of the people to the utmost possible extent,” he said.

The NPA has heightened vigilance over the group because it believes there are similarities between Pana Wave and the early stages of the AUM Shinrikyo cult, whose members committed the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack.

The city of Fukui, home to three Pana Wave facilities, decided Thursday to monitor the three facilities twice a day until May 31.

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