Japan wants to keep eye on Aum

Tokyo – Japan’s public security agency on Friday requested an extension of its tight surveillance of a doomsday cult that attacked the Tokyo subway in order to prevent further massacres.

A government committee will now decide whether the Aum cult will be kept under watch for a third three-year period beyond January 31.

The agency said in a report submitted to the committee that the cult, responsible for the deadly 1995 nerve gas attack in Tokyo, still had about 1 650 devotees and 28 facilities, and could still present a danger.

The Aum’s founder, Shoko Asahara, 50, who preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma with apocalyptic visions, was obsessed with deadly, Nazi-invented sarin gas and was paranoid his enemies would attack him with it.

Asahara allegedly ordered the Aum cult to release sarin on rush-hour trains on March 20 1995, killing 12 people and injuring thousands.

He was sentenced to death in February last year for the subway attack and other crimes that claimed a total of 27 lives, but is appealing against the verdict.

Japan’s justice minister, Seiken Sugiura, said on Friday the extent of “danger of the cult has not changed, as it seems to be regressing to (revering) Asahara and the number of followers has not changed”.

An extension would mean security officials and police would keep the right to inspect Aum facilities at their discretion and force the cult to report the names, addresses and other details of its followers every three months.

The commission will examine whether Asahara still holds power over Aum and whether the cult could commit mass murder again.

The Tokyo high court said in August that the Aum guru would undergo psychiatric tests to see if he was mentally fit for an appeal against his death sentence.

Asahara’s lawyers have demanded his appeal be suspended, claiming he was mentally unfit and filing two other psychiatric tests conducted independently from the court.

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AFP, via News24.com, France
Nov. 25, 2005

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This post was last updated: Nov. 17, 2014