Senior sect member seen as key player in woman’s death

NAGANO (Kyodo) A senior member of the religious group Kigenkai is suspected of playing a leading role in the fatal beating of a female member last month in Nagano Prefecture, police sources said Tuesday.

The suspect has been identified as Yasuko Kubota, 49, one of 21 female Kigenkai members arrested Monday and sent to prosecutors Tuesday on suspicion of inflicting injuries resulting in the death of Motoko Okuno, 63, a sushi shop operator.

Kubota is a relative of the founder of the Shinto-linked religious organization, headquartered in Komoro, Nagano Prefecture. Kubota appears to have had strong influence over group members.

The suspects allegedly punched and kicked Okuno from around 11:30 p.m. Sept. 24 through 12:30 a.m. the following day. Dozens of Kigenkai members held a meeting Sept. 24 at the group’s facility near its head office, during which Okuno and her family came under criticism over the way they were leading their lives, the sources said. Okuno eventually became the final target and anger toward her reportedly escalated to the point where sect members started beating and kicking her.

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Kyodo News Service, Japan
Oct. 17, 2007

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 11:03 AM, Central European Time (CET)