TOKYO, Dec. 26–(Kyodo) _ Two rival factions of the religious cult known formerly as AUM Shinrikyo plan to hold separate seminars for lay followers from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3, intelligence authority sources said Sunday.
AUM “representative” Fumihiro Joyu, 43, has been distancing himself from the cult’s operations since October 2003, but at the seminar he will hold plans to preach for the first time in two and a half years, they said.
Another group led by Tatsuko Muraoka, 55, who is ranked as the cult’s “chairwoman,” will hold its seminar as in previous years, the sources said.
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The main venues for the seminars are Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, and Osaka for the Joyu group, and Yashio, Saitama Prefecture, and Kyoto for the Muraoka group, they said.
The Muraoka group is considered to be more loyal than the Joyu group to AUM founder Shoko Asahara, 50, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, they said.
AUM has renamed itself Aleph.