Aum Shinrikyo may be gone in name but guru still has following

Judicial proceedings for Aum Shinrikyo figures effectively came to an end Monday as Seiichi Endo became the 13th member of the doomsday cult to have his death sentence finalized by the Supreme Court.

But as Jun Hungo at the Japan Times point out

while Aum’s criminal masterminds await the hangman’s noose on death row, splinter groups remain active and are showing signs of loyalty to guru Shoko Asahara.

“Aleph is operating under Aum’s old teachings. They are taking a defiant attitude,” Kazuyuki Furuma, a resident of Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, told The Japan Times on Monday. Furuma heads a group that wants Aum-related groups ousted from the ward.

Following Aum’s dismantlement, former members quickly reorganized into a group called Aleph in 2002. Its headquarters was in Setagaya’s Karasuyama area until 2010, when it bought a new facility in Adachi Ward.

Aleph reportedly celebrates Asahara’s birthday with special events. Its facilities also reportedly display pictures of Asahara and promote his teachings to a following that has already reached 1,300.

Furuma’s group worked hard to remove Aleph from Setagaya, but Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light), a splinter group headed by former senior Aum member Fumihiro Joyu, remains active in the ward.

“Joyu claims that his group works under a different belief today, and to prove that he has called his former guru only by his last name, Asahara, and not with his title. But we don’t quite buy it,” Furuma said.

He believes the group will do anything to put an end to the government’s strict surveillance. […]

A law was also enacted allowing the government to pay about ¥3 billion to some 6,000 victims, with Aum-related groups obligated to pay the government back. That debt remains unpaid.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations released a statement Monday saying that despite the substantial payments that have so far been made via bankruptcy proceedings and the government aid, “efforts continue even now to assist the victims” financially.

So far, only Hikari no Wa has agreed to make annual payments to Aum’s victims, although the payments have been a pittance — Â¥2.5 million in 2010 and Â¥500,000 so far this year.

Defiant Aleph, on the other hand, hasn’t agreed to make any payments, drawing criticism even from Hikari no Wa.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday November 21, 2011.
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