TOKYO, May 11–(Kyodo) _ The religious cult formerly known as AUM Shinrikyo and now called Aleph may be on the verge of breaking up, after leader Fumihiro Joyu told its believers it would be difficult to bridge the gaps between the pro- and anti-Joyu groups within the sect, informed sources said Wednesday.
He made the remarks at two seminars during Japan’s Golden Week holidays this month, the sources said.
Joyu, 43, indicated he will break away by splitting the cult’s financial assets and facilities between his group and his opponents, according to the sources.
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He also said he will review the religious principles and training systems after launching his own new group, possibly around July, the sources said.
AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara, 51, was sentenced to death at the Tokyo District Court in 2004 for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,500 others. The Tokyo High Court dismissed his appeal in March.
At the seminars, Joyu said it is necessary to establish an organization to accommodate believers following a possible finalization of the capital punishment against Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, the sources said.
Aleph has introduced a collective leadership since October 2003, when Joyu withdrew from the management of the group.
The anti-Joyu sect also held seminars from late April to early this month at six places nationwide.