AUM Shinrikyo leader Fumihiro Joyu visited the Public Security Intelligence Agency on Monday to notify it of his decision to break away from the cult along with followers loyal to him, sources close to the agency said.
Joyu, 44, and his group are set to quit the cult in mid-March and form a new organization in April or May.
On Sunday, Joyu held a meeting at a cult facility in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, to inform followers of his decision.
The new group will not take over the cult’s “holy name” hierarchical system. “It’ll be an organization to hold religious studies rather than be a religious organization,” a follower close to Joyu said.
The cult, which has renamed itself “Aleph,” is currently split into three factions — a pro-Joyu group, an anti-Joyu faction that is loyal to 52-year-old cult founder Shoko Asahara, who has been sentenced to death for masterminding a series of the cult’s crimes including the subway gassing in Tokyo, and a body comprising of neutral followers.