Court Releases Cult Group Suspects in Police Director Shooting Case

In March of 1995, a group of followers of Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese cult, shot the then Director of the National Police Agency (NPA) Koji Kunimatsu.

Aum Shinrikyo is a terrorist group that became known around the world when they killed and poisoned thousands of innocent civilians in a Tokyo subway station in a sarin gas attack.

On July 7 of the same year, the Metropolitan Police Office (MPO) arrested four Aum Shinrikyo followers, including Toshiyuki Kosugi, a former police sergeant, Tetsuya Uemura, Koichi Ishikawa (both leaders of the cult group), and Mitsuo Sunaoshi, for the attempted murder of Mr. Kunimatsu.

During their trial on July 28, Tokyo District Court release them on parole.

In 1996, after the arrest, former police sergeant Toshiyuki Kosugi confessed that he shot NPA Director Kunimatsu. However, the police department did not investigate this since the Tokyo District Prosecution Office and even the MPO did not believe Mr. Kosugi’s confession.

As expected, the prosecution lost the case.

The Weekly Post has found an important witness whose testimony the police department has totally ignored. The witness was one of the leaders of the terrorist cult group and said to The Weekly Post, “The sarin gas attack and shooting of Mr. Kunimatsu were planned to be executed on the same day.”

1. Ignored Witness.

The Metropolitan Police Office (MPO) has put a total of 350,000 police officers on the investigation into the shooting of the National Police Agency Director. Now, the court ruling has forced the MPO to start from the beginning in their investigation.

The Weekly Post has recently had a chance to interview a new witness who said, “The court ruling to release the four suspects was right. That is the way it should be.”

The witness accepted the interview under the condition of anonymity. The man who will be referred to as Mr. A for reporting purpose, claimed that he joined Aum Shinrikyo, an insane terrorist cult group, after being discharged from military service.

Mr. A said that he was a member of the group who planned to execute a sarin gas attack in a Tokyo subway station as well as shoot Mr. Kunimatsu, the Director of the National Police Agency (NPA).

Now, the MPO is paying attention to Mr. A and planning to call him back as a witness as they restart their investigation.

Mr. A, at one point during the previous investigation, had voluntarily given a detailed account of the shooting to the police department. However, the MPO had already obtained the confession of Toshiyuki Kosugi, a former Aum follower and police sergeant who testified that he shot NPA Director Kunimatsu. The police investigation relied entirely on Mr. Kosugi’s testimony

Another reason why the MPO had ignored Mr. A’s account was that his testimony contradicted many points made by Mr. Kosugi. Now, it is a reasonable step for the MPO to pay new attention to Mr. A’s account.

The interview with Mr. A was conducted right before the court ruled to release the four suspects.

“Aum Shinrikyo leaders used LSD, Ketamin and other drugs to drug Mr. Koxugi enough to be able to control his consciousness. They succeeded in making him believe that he shot Mr. Kunimatsu and confess to the police. The three other arrested suspects might have been set up to confuse the police investigation, however, they did not know who really shot Mr. Kunimatsu,” said Mr. A.

Mr. A also said, “The arrest of the four suspects was simply a mistake because the coat which the sniper wore did not belong to Mr. Kosugi.”

The interview with Mr. A went on as follows:

2. ‘White Troop for Love’

The Weekly Post (TWP): How did you become a follower of Aum Shinrikyo?

Mr. A: My father was running a construction company before. His company had been involved in constructing facilities for Aum Shinrikyo. This business relationship gave my father an opportunity to meet Shoko Asahara (the cult leader). He was moved by Mr. Asahara and became his follower. He registered me as a follower of Aum without asking me.

At that time, I was a soldier in the Self Defense Forces and stationed in Niigata. The way I came to be close to Aum Shinrikyo was through an encounter with a group called the ‘White Troop for Love.'”

(The White Troop for Love group was founded by one of the oldest female executives of Aum Shinrikyo and the group was engaged in a mission to invite homeless people into the cult from 1994 to 1995 by pretending that they were recruiting extras for movies. After recruitment, the cult group gave them military training and used them as laborers or soldiers for terrorism.)

TWP: Did you become a follower as a Self-Defense Force soldier?

Mr. A: No. At that time, I had already been discharged and had no place to live. My homeless friend invited me to the White Troop for Love group and I followed him. I was trained in the mountains of Gifu and Wakayama Prefectures. I had training in Karate and Judo every day,

The woman leader had known already that I used to be a Self-Defense Force soldier and invited me to Kami Isshikimura, a village where Aum Shinrikyo had their headquarters. She was the head of the ‘New Follower Agency’ (of the cult group) and put me there.”

The ‘New Follower Agency’ was a section attached to the Construction Ministry of the Aum Shinrikyo organization and in charge of guiding and managing the followers.

TWP: What kind of life did you have in Kami Isshikimura?

Mr. A: It was a terrible life. We were forced to work on constructing facilities from early morning to evening. We had to sleep in three-high bunk beds made of wood. Meals were tasteless thin Chinese noodles. We ate the noodles with seaweed and vinegar.

TWP: Didn’t you prefer to return to being homeless?

Mr. A: Yes, but I had a specific reason to stay there. There was one executive who really bought my experience as a Self-Defense soldier.

TWP: Who was that executive?

Mr. A: It was Mr. Niimi (one of the members of Aum Shinrikyo, who attacked a Tokyo subway station using sarin gas, was sentenced to death, and is now appealing to a higher court). He was a terror maniac. Mr. Niimi kept saying that he wanted something to happen. One day, he came to me and asked, “I want to do something spectacular. Do you have any ideas?”

All executives including myself discussed something spectacular and came up with some terror plans. The plans discussed included attacking a subway station with were sarin gas and shooting Mr. Kunimatsu.

3. Selection of Sniper

Mr. A was talking to The Weekly Post in a calm manner. Did this prove that he was telling the truth? Or, was he drugged and was his consciousness still controlled? It was not clear.

The Weekly Post continued the interview.

TWP: Can you tell us more about the plan to shoot Mr. Kunimatsu?

Mr. A: One day, Mr. Niimi called me into his room. He was a gun collector and he displayed 150 guns including a Russian AK, a Magnum and Colt guns. One day when I was invited by him to his room, he was cleaning his guns. He said, “This is my training,’ and told me to help with his gun cleaning.

TWP: Did he tell you about his terror plans?

Mr. A: I was positioned to report to Niimi first and then, to Mr. Hayakawa (already sentenced to death but appealing to a higher court). Soon, I was allowed to attend meetings in which terror attacks were planned.

TWP: When were such plans finalized?

Mr. A: It was Christmas time in 1994. Plans to attack a subway station by sarin gas and shooting Mr. Kunimatsu were fully discussed. All these terror attacks were scheduled to be executed on March 1, 1995.

TWP: The sarin gas attack on the subway station was carried out on March 30 and the shooting of Mr. Kunimatsu took place on March 30.

Mr. A: Yes. We had information on a police raid, which postponed our attacks. We had our own sources within the police department and they told us that the police would raid us at the end of January. Mr. Niimi was surprised when he heard of it. We had to destroy almost all of the sarin gas and guns that we had. We had to postpone our attacks. Then, we rushed our preparations.

TWP: What was the preparation for?

Mr. A: It involved the selection of members to execute the attacks. The members to conduct shooting Mr. Kunimatsu had to be good at shooting. We selected 15 members and trained them to shoot in a spot located 700 meter from the forest surrounding Mt. Fuji. At that location, there were many corpses of people who had committed suicide. We used these corpses as targets. I was not there but in the forest, I could hear the sound of gun fire.

TWP: Was former police sergeant Kosugi one of the selected members?

Mr. A: No, he was not. We screened out three out of 15 members. The final shooter we selected was Shin Hirata.

TWP: Hirata is still on the run, isn’t he?

Mr. A: Yes, he is. Hirata was the Undersecretary of the Vehicle Ministry of Aumu Shinrikyo. Kosugi and Hashimoto were said to have shot Mr. Kunimatsu. However, the man who did the shooting was Hirata.

4. Preparation for Shooting

Police have been searching for Shin Hirata as a suspect for kidnapping and murdering Kiyoshi Kariya, an official of the Register Office of Meguro Ward in Tokyo. Hirata is on the run as of today. He is said to be good at handling explosives and is known as a war fighter within the cult group.

The Public Safety Unit of the MPO has been placing importance on the confession of Mr. Kosugi, but the Investigation Unit has been focusing on Hirata as a suspect in the shooting of Mr. Kunimatsu.

The Weekly Post continued the interview with Mr. A.

TWP: Do you mean that it was Hirata who shot Mr. Kunimatsu?

Mr. A: Yes, it was Hirata. There is no mistake in what I said. Since Mr. Niimi had to discard the guns he had because of the possible police raid, we had difficulty preparing the guns. We remodeled a Colt gun and made a special gun by the hand of members of the Science and Technology Ministry (within Aum Shinrikyo.) We gave it to Hirata. That gun was equipped with a sighting device.

TWP: Did you physically see the gun?

Mr. A: Yes, I did.

TWP: Did Hirata use the gun to shoot Mr. Kunimatsu?

Mr. A: Yes, he did. Before the execution, several of our members visited the kill site for examination. One of our members measured the distance from where the shooting would be made to the spot where Mr. Kunimatsu would appear. The measurement was made using a bicycle by detecting how many turns its wheel made.

5. Mission of Fall Guy

TWP: Why can you say that Hirata was the one who shot Mr. Kunimatsu?

Mr. A: As soon as the shooting took place, I returned to Kami Isshikimura. Hirata and his people did not come back to the 5th building of our compound until the next morning. I heard that after returning to the compound, they were sent to a hot spring to rest since they were so tired.

I met Hirata in a room upstairs in the 5th building. Hirata slammed the gun he used in the shooting on a desk. Hirata said to me, “I shot at Kunimatsu and the bullet hit him.” I suddenly said to him, “Don’t keep this gun any longer.” I let him discard it.

TWP: Wasn’t former police sergeant Kosugi involved in the shooting at all?

Mr. A: Yes, he was. Mr. Kosugi was the driver of the getaway car. Mr. Kosugi was assigned to patrol the area which included the shooting site as a police sergeant and it was considered that he could let Hirata escape from a police line.

Therefore, Mr. Kosugi was the getaway car driver but not the sniper.

TWP: Police sergeant Kosugi admitted that the coat, which the sniper was wearing and was left at the shooting site, belonged to him, didn’t he?

Mr. A: It was not his coat. The leaders of Aum Shinrikyo could easily foresee that Mr. Kosugi would be caught by police and investigated. The Aum leaders had doped him with drugs to coerce him into saying so. Mr. Kosugi still does not know it and believes that the coat belongs to him.

The interview with Mr. A was over.

Many things that Mr. A said to The Weekly Post cannot be proven. It is not possible to believe all what he said in the interview.

Ryuzo Sasaki, a journalist who has been following the trials of the Aum Shinrikyo leaders and followers who have been accused of terrorism, said, “Now is the time to investigate all of the testimony of former followers. It is the fact that there were many former police and Self Defense Force officers among the members of Aum Shinrikyo,

“Also, it has been revealed in court that some of them were involved in the execution of terror attacks. However, some of them were not sure whether they were involved in terror attacks by themselves because of consciousness control by drugs. Of course, we cannot deny all their testimonies as well,

“That is why further police investigation on each testimony is necessary. What Mr. A said during the interview must be investigated.”

There are five years and eight months remaining before the statute of limitations is reached in this case. The prosecution’s accusation was denied by the court, which is now forcing police to conduct a new investigation.

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The Weekly Post, Japan
Aug. 2, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 2, 2004.
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