Japan: Religious group raided over suspicious death of 63-year-old follower

KOMORO, Nagano — Police on Monday launched an investigation into a religious organization here on suspicion that organization members beat a 63-year-old woman to death, law enforcers said.

Under investigation is the religious organization Kigenkai. On Monday morning, police searched three locations within the group’s headquarters in Komoro. About a dozen members voluntarily responded to police questioning. Police are reportedly preparing to arrest the members on suspicion of inflicting injures on the victim resulting in death.

Killed was 63-year-old Motoko Okuno, a sushi restaurant owner from Komoro. Investigators suspect that Okuno was beaten by her 35-year-old husband, her 37-year-old daughter and several other members of the religious group. The husband and daughter have already been arrested along with two other family members.

Okuno was taken to a hospital in Komoro in the predawn hours of Sept. 25, but was confirmed dead soon afterwards. She appeared to have been beaten in the face and stomach, prompting hospital officials to alert police.

When police questioned the family members, they reportedly admitted having beaten Okuno, prompting police to arrest the husband and daughter along with another 26-year-old daughter and the 26-year-old daughter’s husband.


At first, the four said that they beat her at their home over her criticism about their attitudes, but it later emerged that Okuno and the four family members were Kigenkai followers. Suspicions that Okuno was beaten at the facility subsequently surfaced, and police had been carrying out a careful investigation.

According to data held by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Kigenkai was founded in October 1970. Sources close to the group said it has about 400 followers across the country.

The group reportedly sought offerings from followers, and distributed water it called Kigensui, claiming that it would cure incurable diseases.


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Mainichi Daily News, Japan
Oct. 15, 2007
mdn.mainichi.jp

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This post was last updated: Oct. 15, 2007