Aum Shinri-kyo and Related Controversies
TOKYO - The Public Security Investigation Agency on Wednesday inspected two Tokyo facilities of the AUM Shinrikyo cult to determine how the group is using them and the number of cultists they are housing, agency officials said.
One is a house in Sanno in Ota Ward, where top-level member Fumihiro Joyu, 38, has been staying, and the other is an apartment building in Minami-Karasuyama in Setagaya Ward, the officials said.
AUM rented the Minami-Karasuyama building, capable of accommodating up to 100 people, in mid-December as a residential-training facility, they said.
Joyu moved into the Sanno facility in December following unsuccessful relocations to various locations within Tokyo, dogged by residents' protests.
He lived in Yokohama until September last year following his release from jail in December 1999 after serving out a three-year term for perjury and document falsification.
The two facilities underwent the agency's inspections for the first time under a new law authorizing such inspections.
The legislation took effect in December 1999. Officially implemented against AUM in February 2000, it tightens government control of the group to alleviate the concerns of residents around AUM facilities.
AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and many other cultists have been tried on a number of charges, including the March 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo subways, which killed 12 people and injured thousands.
TOKYO - The eldest daughter of Shoko Asahara, founder of the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult, was arrested Friday for allegedly shoplifting at a supermarket in Tokyo's Kita Ward, police said.
According to police investigations, Miwa Matsumoto, 22, lifted about 100 food items including sandwiches, sushi and chocolates worth about 20,000 yen at around 3:30 p.m.
Police sources said there is no love lost between Matsumoto and her other sisters, and Matsumoto has remained aloof ever since AUM Shinrikyo changed its name to Aleph in January last year.
Asahara, 45, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is on trial in 13 criminal cases, including the masterminding of the 1995 sarin nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured thousands.
In the latest campaign against the AUM Shinrikyo cult, as many as 500 residents in Tokyo's Setagaya-ku held a rally on Tuesday, demanding that more than 20 AUM members leave local condominiums.
Setagaya-ku officials said 13 AUM followers registered their residency in condominiums in the ward's Minami-Karasuyama district on Dec. 19.
In an apparent bit to help ease residents' worries, the ward has set up a task force led by the ward's head, Keiji Osawa, and officials have been keeping watch around-the-clock on the condominiums where the AUM members live.
TOKYO - About 700 residents of Tokyo's Setagaya Ward lodged a protest Tuesday against the AUM Shinrikyo cult, calling on members living in their neighborhood to leave quickly.
The local residents said in a written protest statement that they have developed ''enormous concerns'' since 13 AUM followers filed for domicile registration with the ward office in December.
On Tuesday, representatives of the residents visited an apartment in which the followers currently live and handed the statement to a male follower.
It calls on AUM members to leave the cult, saying, ''We would support AUM members as our neighbors if they defect from the cult.''
But it warns, ''We demand AUM members immediately leave the neighbor if they keep using the apartment as a cult facility.''
The members of the cult, which now calls itself ''Aleph,'' responded by handing their own statement to the representatives, saying they too hope to live a trouble-free life.
According to AUM officials, the cult signed a five-year contract with a property owner allowing around 20 AUM followers to reside in three condominiums.
Senior AUM member Fumihiro Joyu, who currently lives in Tokyo's Ota Ward, may move into one of the condominiums, they said.
Members of AUM carried out the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 in which 12 people were killed and thousands injured, as well as a number of other crimes.
A number of AUM members have been convicted of serious crimes, but the trial of AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, on murder and other charges still drags on.
A right-wing political group member has been arrested after firing shots at a Tokyo apartment building where a number of AUM Shinrikyo cult followers reside, police said Friday. Takayuki Inoue, 27, from the Tokyo suburb of Komae, was held by police officers who rushed to the scene after hearing shots as he walked out of the building in Setagaya-ku with a revolver in his hand Thursday night.
"I can't let those AUM followers roam free in the area where I live," Inoue was quoted by police as saying. Inoue is a deputy leader of the rightist group Minseikai Sohonbu, which is based in a building just a few hundred meters from the apartment he attacked, police said.
Inoue turned up at the apartment building, where over a dozen AUM Shinrikyo followers have been living since last December, by taxi at around 11:50 p.m. Thursday.
He walked into the building owned by Yutaka Takayama and fired two shots at the door of his first-floor apartment, and then fired two more rounds at the door of the cult's training room on the same floor. Takayama, 76, was not in the room at the time, police said.
On the morning of the attack, police had searched the Minseikai office in relation to the arrest of a 24-year-old group member on Dec. 30 for driving a propaganda truck at a police officer patrolling near the apartment. The rightist group has deployed propaganda trucks in a campaign to drive the cult from the building since mid-December, police said.
The Metropolitan Police Department's public security division has kept the apartment under close watch after followers of AUM Shinrikyo, now calling itself Aleph, got a lease from Takayama and moved into apartments on the first and second floors.
The followers have applied for residents' registration with the ward office but the Setagaya Municipal Government has rejected them.
AUM Shinrikyo carried out the deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 in which 12 people were killed and thousands injured, as well as a number of other hideous crimes.
The cult guru Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is still on trial on murder and other charges, and a number of AUM members have been sent to death row for their crimes.
The cult has pledged that it has renounced its past sins and will abide by the law, but is faced with hate campaigns from local communities wherever they move.
TOKYO - A man believed to be a member of a rightist group was arrested after firing shots Thursday night at an apartment building in Tokyo where followers of the AUM Shinrikyo cult live, police said Friday.
The man, Takayuki Inoue, 27, of Chofu, western Tokyo, was holding a handgun when he was detained by a police officer shortly before midnight near the apartment building in Setagaya Ward, the police said.
Four shots were fired at the door of the owner of the building, who lives on the first floor, the police said. Nobody was injured in the incident.
The police suspect Inoue is linked to a right-wing group that launched a noisy campaign in the neighborhood using loudspeaker trucks after the AUM followers moved into the building in December.
Police had searched the rightist group's office in the same ward Thursday morning in connection with the arrest of one of its members who in late December drove a loudspeaker truck at a police officer patrolling near the apartment.
The police have kept the area under watch after a number of followers of AUM got a lease from the owner of the building and moved into apartments on the first and second floors.
Members of AUM carried out the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 in which 12 people were killed and thousands injured, as well as a number of other crimes.
AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is still on trial on murder and other charges, and a number of AUM members have been convicted of serious crimes.
The cult has changed its name to Aleph and pledged to abide by the law, but is still regarded with suspicion and many communities in Japan have resisted moves by AUM members to live in their areas.
The Setagaya Ward office has rejected the application for domicile registration filed by the AUM followers living in the apartment building.
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