Aum Shinri-kyo and Related Controversies
("Mainichi Shimbun", January 29, 2000)
TOKIGAWA, Saitama - The education board here admitted Friday that it illegally denied children of a convicted AUM Shinrikyo executive places in a public school - but said regardless, it will not let the kids attend class.
On Jan. 20, the Tokigawa Municipal Board of Education sent a notice stating what schools were available to around 80 parents of eligible children. But the notice was not sent to a cult facility in the village, where the 6-year-old twins live.
"Our action clearly infringed on the School Education Law," an official of the board, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted.
"But we'll stick with our policy, as we cannot allow the twins' entry to disrupt other children's education," the offical added.
Currently, nine members of AUM - which now calls itself Aleph - including cult bigwig Hisako Ishii and her twin girls, are registered as residents of Tokigawa.
The School Education Law stipulates that local education boards must send the notice, two months before the start of new school term, to all parents of children eligible to enter an elementary school.
Education expert Naoki Ogi, labeled the action as "going too far." "It is understandable that the village took popular feeling into account when making the decision, but the twins are innocent. Nobody is allowed to violate their right to an education," Ogi said.
He believes that the introduction of the AUM monitoring law made such actions unnecessary.
"You can't allow authorities to justify illegal actions on the back of popular feeling. If you did, those in power would do anything they want to," Ogi warned.
The Tokigawa Municipal Government made the decision to deny an education to the twins last September as a part of a series of anti-AUM measures, including refusing to give resident status to AUM followers who had moved into the village.
However, former Tokigawa Mayor Ikuya Tanaka admitted at the time that the local government's decision might breach basic human rights but said it had to do it for the "public's welfare."
A former AUM Shinrikyo leader, Shinichiro Ishii - the step-father of the twins, sent letters to an anti-AUM task force of Tokigawa toward the end of last year saying that he had quit the cult so as to provide his children with a normal school life.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Department's Public Security Division raided six cult-related locations Friday on suspicion that the address of a telephone answering service company had been falsely registered in April 1996.
The searches were a part of investigations into the cult's computer businesses that authorities estimate to have an annual turnover of 6 billion yen.
(Kyodo News Service, January 28, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 28 (Kyodo) - Police on Friday searched seven AUM Shinri kyo facilities in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, while the cult closed three computer shops run by affiliated companies.
Police searched an AUM facility in Tokyo's Adachi Ward, two computer companies in Arakawa Ward and facilities in Tokyo's Hachioji, as well as Yashio, Saitama Prefecture. The searches were carried out in connection with the alleged false registration of a company address in Arakawa Ward.
According to police, two AUM members, including an executive of a computer-parts importing company in Arakawa Ward, filed the registration for the company in April 1996. The registration falsely claimed that the company's headquarters had moved to Shibuya Ward.
Meanwhile, notices explaining the closure of the computer shops were posted on their front doors at 10 a.m. Friday.
The notices said the cult was unable to continue doing business after police on Monday confiscated documents during a raid. The police action was in connection with a senior AUM member's alleged threats to a Tokyo bank that refused to allow the group to open an account under its new name, Aleph.
Police arrested Naruhito Noda, 33, after he had allegedly told bank
officials on Jan. 19, ''I could call right-wing people and have their...trucks parade outside.'
Another computer shop in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, had also been closed by Friday, the police said, leaving none of AUM's computer shops open.
At one time, AUM had six shops in various parts of Japan that sold computers made by its affiliated companies. The companies were the main source of income for the cult, earning 6 billion yen annually, public security officials said earlier.
The group became unable to produce computers after intense anti-AUM
campaigns across the country brought a halt to its plant operations last summer, the officials said. Since then, the shops have only been selling items in stock.
Each shop is operated by a different company, all of which are closely connected with the cult. AUM has maintained it has nothing to do with the shops, the officials said.
The officials said they knew about the cult's plans to close the shops. They suggested it might be a move to conceal AUM's assets ahead of an expected decision by the Public Security Examination Commission on Monday next week
to apply a new law to curb the group's activities.
("Asahi Shimbun", January 27, 2000)
The abduction of the son of Chizuo Matsumoto, a founder of Aum Shinrikyo, now called Aleph, demonstrates the continuing danger of the cult, sources close to the the Public Security Examination Commission said Wednesday.
The abduction has spurred the commission to use recently enacted legislation to begin monitoring the cult's activities, the sources said. The commission discussed details of the surveillance Wednesday.
The role of Chizuo Matsumoto, who led Aum as Shoko Asahara, was crucial in the commission's determination that the cult remains a danger to public safety, the sources said.
Members of the commission believe Matsumoto, who is now on trial, was a leader of the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 and in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994, the sources said.
The commission also believes that Aum, renamed as Aleph, is still under Matsumoto's influence, citing the presence of note-taking cult members ashis trial, sources said.
("Nando Times", January 26, 2000)
YOKOHAMA, Japan (January 26, 2000 9:28 a.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Police on Wednesday raided four facilities of the doomsday cult accused in the 1995 fatal gassing on Tokyo subways as part of an investigation into the former guru's son's kidnapping.
Several intruders suspected of being cult followers broke into a cult facility last week and kidnapped the 7-year-old son of Shoko Asahara.
Asahara is on trial on charges of masterminding the gassing that killed 12 people and sickened more than 5,000. Asahara was recently replaced as guru, part of the group's recent efforts to tone down its image.
Police found the boy Sunday. Three members of Aum Shinri Kyo, which has changed its name to Aleph, were arrested in the kidnapping.
The kidnapping likely reflects brewing infighting in the cult centered on Asahara's children, who are believed by followers to possess spiritual powers.
Wednesday's raids were at two sites near Tokyo and two in Yokohama, including an apartment where former cult spokesman Fumihiro Joyu has been staying since his release from prison last month.
Joyu is one of the cult's top leaders not in prison or on trial, and the public has been increasingly wary about the cult's possible resurgence.
Under Joyu's leadership, the group has been trying to ward off a further crackdown by the authorities.
Besides changing its name and deposing Asahara, the cult recently accepted for the first time responsibility in the 1995 sarin attack and promised to compensate the victims.
Late last year, Tokyo toughened its laws to allow the authorities to monitor the cult more closely.
("Yomiuri Shimbun", January 26, 2000)
The Public Security Examination Commission is expected to approve placing the Aum Supreme Truth cult under supervision, as empowered by a law recently passed to regulate dangerous organizations, government sources said Monday.
The commission considers it significant that Chizuo Matsumoto, 44, also known as Shoko Asahara, still holds influence over the cult, which has changed its name to Aleph, the sources said.
Matsumoto is suspected of masterminding indiscriminate mass murder through the use of sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system and in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
In the commission's opinion, the cult should continue to be monitored so that its activities could be made known to the public, the sources said.
The commission plans to publish its decision to put the cult under supervision in an official gazette early next month. It will determine the period of supervision, which could last up to three years, and decide what matters the cult should be obliged to report to security authorities.
Immediately after the decision is made, the Public Security Investigation Agency will begin inspections of the cult's facilities in cooperation with police, the sources said.
In its Dec. 27 request to have the law applied to the cult, the agency maintained that:
-- Matsumoto is still influencing cult activities.
-- The cult has not abandoned dogmas that condone murder.
-- The cult's organizational structure is effectively the same as that at the times of the two sarin gas attacks and there is a danger that the cult will commit indiscriminate mass murder again.
In its counterargument, the cult said:
-- Matsumoto has stepped down from his status as guru, representative and organizer, and thus no longer holds sway over the organization.
-- The group has abandoned dogmas that could be interpreted as dangerous.
-- There is no danger of the cult committing indiscriminate mass murder.
The Public Security Examination Commission held a hearing on the cult on Jan. 20 and examined documents submitted by the cult and the Public Security Investigation Agency.
At a meeting of the commission Sunday, the majority of members agreed that it was necessary to continuously monitor the cult, the sources said.
As additional evidence to support its request, the agency Sunday submitted a report regarding a recent incident in which cult followers abducted Matsumoto's eldest son from a facility in Asahimura, Ibaraki Prefecture.
"The cult maintains characteristics that will lead to it committing further crimes," the agency told the commission
by Yuri Kageyama (Associated Press, January 25, 2000)
TOKYO (AP) - Most victims of the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing, in which members of a doomsday cult have been convicted, hide the fact that they are victims for fear of social stigma, their lawyers said Tuesday.
Victims of the sarin gassing by Aum Shinri Kyo, which has recently changed its name to Aleph, are believed to number some 5,500. But only about 1,136 people have come forward to claim compensation, the lawyers said.
Sympathy for crime victims is hard to come by in relatively safe Japan, where it is rare to see random attacks like the subway gassing that left 12 people dead. The need for counseling, for example, is a relatively novel area in this society, where conformity and social harmony are highly valued.
Admitting they are victims of the sarin attack can jeopardize their jobs and prospective marriages, said Shinsuke Kimura, one of the attorneys.
Free medical checkups will be offered in March and April in an attempt to reach victims who have been afraid to come forward, the lawyers said. A symposium and charity concert are also planned for March to raise money and social awareness.
``How the victims are faring is often forgotten,'' Kimura said.
The cult has drawn media attention lately because of apparent infighting.
The 7-year-old son of guru Shoko Asahara was kidnapped last Friday, allegedly by a couple of his older sisters and other followers. Police found the boy Sunday and have arrested three cult members.
On Monday, a high-ranking official of the cult was arrested on suspicion of threatening bank employees who refused to open an account for the group.
The cult is believed to be trying to regroup and play down the connection to Asahara, who is on trial on charges of masterminding the sarin attack and other killings.
The cult has recently accepted responsibility for the gassing and apologized to the victims - something it had refused to do for the last five years.
(Kyodo News Service, January 25, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Kyodo) - The Public Security Examination Commission intends to approve a request from the security authorities to allow them to put the AUM Shinrikyo religious group under surveillance, commission sources said Tuesday.
The commission believes the surveillance is needed because the cult remains a danger to the public, the sources said.
The panel will make a final decision Jan. 31 on whether to invoke a new law to crack down on AUM's activities, after holding a discussion on Wednesday. Its final decision will be released in an official gazette in early February, the sources said.
Under the surveillance law, AUM would be obliged to report to the security authorities the names of its members and details of their assets, and would be subject to inspections by police and officials of the Public Security Investigation Agency, with permission from the commission.
During the panel's hearing last Thursday, and on other occasions, AUM representatives and lawyers for AUM said the group has changed and poses no threat to society. On Jan. 18 the group announced it had changed its name to Aleph.
The sources said, however, that most of the panel members think the cult is still under the influence of its founder Shoko Asahara, 44, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and harbors a latent, if not real, threat to society.
Asahara is on trial on murder and other charges in relation to the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
The public security agency submitted a request for surveillance of AUM to the commission on Dec. 27 last year, saying the group could commit indiscriminate mass murder again.
The security commission has held meetings twice a week to consider the agency's request.
(Kyodo News Service, January 25, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Kyodo) - By: Maya Kaneko A private group established to support victims of crimes by the AUM Shinrikyo cult will provide free medical checkups in March and April to those who suffered from the cult's sarin attacks in 1994 and 1995, organizers said Tuesday.
The checkups, to be held in Tokyo's Adachi and Meguro wards as well as Koshigaya in Saitama Prefecture, are aimed at helping alleviate the mental and physical suffering caused by the attacks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, and on the Tokyo subway system, according to the Foundation for the Victims of Sarin Gas Attacks.
Volunteer doctors will ask victims to fill in questionnaires to check whether they are suffering from any effects from the attacks, including post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), the organizers said.
The group will recommend clinics to those found to need medical care and also partly shoulder the cost of their treatment, they said.
''This March marks the fifth anniversary of AUM's Tokyo subway attack, but people are tending to forget the victims and the government provides little support for them,'' lawyer Shinsuke Kimura, the group's deputy head, said at a press conference.
Kimura said many sarin victims have not publicly sought support because they are afraid of suffering discrimination when searching for jobs or getting married.
Yoshinori Ito, another lawyer and group member, urged sarin attack victims to contact the foundation to receive the assistance they are entitled to in the form of medical checkups.
Only 1,136 of the 5,510 victims of the Tokyo sarin gassing have claimed their right to receive compensation and they have only acquired redress worth 22.59% of their claims against AUM due to the cult's bankruptcy.
Saburo Abe, AUM's bankruptcy administrator and head of the foundation, hoped the group's support for the victims will prompt central and local governments also to assist them.
The foundation has collected about 77.36 million yen including donations and atonement money offered by former AUM members, Abe said.
In addition to free medical checkups, the foundation will sponsor a symposium on sarin victims March 4 and a fund-raising concert in Tokyo on March 20, the fifth anniversary of the Tokyo subway attack.
The Matsumoto sarin gas attack which occurred June 27, 1994, killed seven and injured 550, while the Tokyo attack March 20, 1995, claimed 12 lives and left more than 5,500 ill.
AUM founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and a large number of AUM members have been charged, and some already convicted, with a series of crimes. On Jan. 18 the group announced it had changed its name to Aleph.
(Kyodo News Service, January 25, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 25 (Kyodo) - Two of four shops selling personal computers and run by companies affiliated with the AUM Shinrikyo cult will close down at the end of this month, sources close to the religious group said Tuesday.
Security officials said they knew about the cult's plans to close the shops and suggested it might be a move to conceal its assets ahead of an expected decision by the Public Security Examination Commission to apply a new law to crack down on its activities.
One of the shops is in Tokyo's Akihabara district, noted for its many electrical appliance shops, and the other is in Nagoya, central Japan.
The two remaining AUM personal computer shops are both in Akihabara, the security officials said.
AUM at one time had six such shops in various parts of the country, which sold computers made by companies affiliated with the sect, and they were the main source of income for the group, earning 6 billion yen annually, the officials said.
However, the group became unable to produce computers after intense anti-AUM campaigns across the country stopped the operations of its plants last summer, the officials said.
Since then, the shops have been selling only products in stock, they said.
The security officials said each shop is operated by a different company, all of which are closely connected with the cult. AUM has maintained it has nothing to do with the shops.
The Public Security Examination Commission is expected to decide early next month to apply the new law to place AUM under the surveillance of the Public Security Investigation Agency.
The group announced Jan. 18 that it had changed its name to Aleph and would compensate victims of a number of crimes which AUM members had committed.
("Asahi Shimbun", January 25, 2000)
The Public Security Examination Commission is planning to take advantage of new legislation allowing it to monitor the activities of the former Aum Shinrikyo cult, now renamed Aleph, sources said Monday.
The commission is expected to make its final decision by the end of this month, and announce it in a government bulletin early in February.
The commission concluded that the cult is still under the influence of founder Chizuo Matsumoto, who led Aum as Shoko Asahara, the sources said. It also sees little reason to believe the cult will not commit dangerous crimes again.
On Monday, the commission discussed a session held last week to hear Aum's reaction to a Public Security Investigation Agency request that the law be applied to the cult. Most commission members said the request should be granted and that it would be difficult to deny the danger of the cult, which they considered still under Matsumoto's influence, the sources said.
They added that the commission is likely to have concluded at its closed meeting Monday that the sarin nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 and in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994 were masterminded by Matsumoto. The fact that Aum members have been taking notes of Matsumoto's remarks during court hearings may also have been taken to show that he continues to have an influence over them.
The commission rejected Aum's insistence that authorities seeking to use the law would have to provide detailed evidence that the cult still poses a menace to the public.
In considering whether to apply the new law to Aum, the agency, which is affiliated with the Justice Ministry, said that Aum was still a threat to society. The cult denied that it posed a danger of indiscriminate mass murder. The new law was enacted in December in an attempt to curb the activities of any organization that has committed ``indiscriminate mass murder during the past 10 years.''
("Mainichi Shimbun", January 25, 2000)
A top-ranking member of the doomsday cult formerly known as AUM Shinrikyo was arrested Monday morning on suspicion of intimidating a bank.
Naruhito Noda, 33, of Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, was nabbed for getting nasty with the bank's staff after it refused to open an account for the cult.
Police also searched 10 locations connected to the cult, including computer companies. The searches were conducted in Tokyo's Adachi-ku, Yokohama's Naka-ku and Koshigaya.
Noda visited the Senju branch of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank in Adachi-ku last Wednesday in order to open an account in the name of Aleph, the cult's new name, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
After a clerk at the bank rejected his request, he threatened to cause trouble for the bank by calling an ultrarightist group to launch a smear campaign against it.
"AUM is trying to make a fresh start by offering compensation to victims (of crimes committed by cult members). Why are you discriminating against us? I have connections to a rightist group. I could call them and have their sound trucks parade outside," Noda was quoted as telling the clerk.
Noda was arrested on Monday while he was in a parked car in front of the Tokyo Detention House in Katsushika-ku. He had visited the detention center to meet with Tomoko Matsumoto, the wife of AUM founder and guru Shoko Asahara, who is standing trial for murder.
Even though Noda quit as the cult's No. 3 official late last year prior to the enactment of the new anti-AUM law, he continued to wield enormous influence over the cult's operations due to his position as chief accountant.
Noda joined the cult in 1988 when he was a student at the University of Tokyo's Science Department. He later assumed the third-highest title within the cult - seigoshi.
Noda was mainly responsible for the 6 billion yen in an account that held the income from cult subsidiaries selling personal computers.
(Reuters, January 24, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - In the latest development in a string of incidents involving a Japanese doomsday cult, police on Monday arrested a top official of the sect on suspicion of threatening bank staff.
Police accused Naruhito Noda, 33, of threatening senior officials of a Tokyo bank last week when it refused to let him open an account in the cult's new name.
Police said Noda told the officials: ``I know right-wing groups. I will send loud-speaker vans here."
``Are you discriminating against Aum?'' Noda, in charge of the sect's finance, was quoted as saying.
The cult is held responsible for a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
Noda's arrest followed the kidnapping last Friday of the oldest son of cult guru Shoko Asahara.
On Sunday, police rescued Asahara's seven-year-old son in the resort area of Hakone west of Tokyo.
Japanese media reports quoted investigators as saying six people, including Asahara's two daughters, were involved in the kidnapping.
No motive for the kidnapping was offered by authorities, but some experts believe a feud or power struggle within the cult was behind the incident.
The cult last week announced drastic reforms including changing its name to the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, ``Aleph,'' from Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth Sect).
It has also admitted for the first time that Asahara may have been involved in the gas attacks.
Asahara, 44, is on trial for his alleged role in at least 17 major crimes, including masterminding the Tokyo subway gassing.
(Kyodo News Service, January 24, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 24 (Kyodo) - Police arrested a senior member of AUM Shinrikyo on Monday on suspicion of threatening a Tokyo bank which refused to allow the religious group to open an account under its new name, Aleph, police said.
Naruhito Noda, 33, allegedly told officials of the bank Wednesday, ''I could call right-wing people and have their sound trucks parade outside."
The group last Tuesday announced it had changed its name to Aleph and would compensate victims of a number of crimes which AUM members had committed.
Police also quoted Noda as saying to the bank officials, ''Are you going to discriminate against AUM, even though we are trying to renew ourselves?'' Noda, ranked next to the group's de facto current leader, Fumihiro Joyu, was one of six members in the decision-making department of AUM.
Police said they also searched five places linked to AUM in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures in connection with Noda's alleged threats.
("Japan Times", January 24, 2000)
Police arrested a senior member of Aum Shinrikyo on Monday for allegedly violating antiviolence laws by shouting at and threatening bank officials when they refused to let him open an account in the cult's name.
According to police, Naruhito Noda, 33, who resides in a cult facility in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, attempted to open an account at one of the bank's branches in Tokyo's Adachi Ward on Thursday, the day after the cult changed its name to Aleph.
After he was turned down, Noda allegedly shouted at bank officials in a first-floor meeting room at the bank and criticized them fordiscriminating against the cult at a time when it was attempting to make a fresh start.
He also threatened to contact acquaintances in rightist groups and have them send loudspeaker vans to the bank, according to police.
Noda was arrested when police found him in a car in front of the Tokyo Detention House in Katsushika Ward. Noda, one of the cult's top officials, is in charge of the cult's financing, they added.
Police raided several locations in connection with the case, including the cult's facilities in Adachi Ward, Koshigaya, and Yokohama.
A computer shop said to be run by the cult in Tokyo's Akihabara district was also searched.
("Yomiuri Shimbun", January 24, 2000)
Police on Monday arrested Naruhito Noda, 33, a senior member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, which recently renamed itself Aleph, on suspicion of becoming violent at a bank that turned down his request to open an account.
The public security division of the Metropolitan Police Department also searched seven locations, including the cult's Yokohama branch and a facility in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture.
The MPD will question Noda, Aum's chief accountant, regarding how the cult raises its funds and how those funds are spent. They also plan to question him regarding the abduction of the eldest son of cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 44, also known as Shoko Asahara, and other internal cult conflicts.
According to investigators, Noda visited a branch of a major bank in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, shortly after 10 a.m. on Jan. 14. He identified himself as "an accounting official with the Aleph religious organization" and asked to open an account.
When an executive bank official turned down his request, Noda allegedly began to threaten the official. "Aum is seeking to compensate victims (of cult-related crimes) and is trying to start over, but all you can do is discriminate against us," he reportedly yelled. "I know a rightist organization and will ask it to dispatch its speaker trucks." The bank contacted police after Noda left the branch, and the MPD investigated the case and arrested Noda on a road in front of Tokyo Detention House in Kosuge, Katsushika Ward.
Investigators found two automobiles, one of which is believed to have been used to carry cult documents around Tokyo every day to avoid police investigators. The car was found on a road in Ueno, Taito Ward.
Noda is a senior Aum member who left his home to join the cult in 1987. As a core member, he has been responsible for the cult's financial affairs, which mainly consist of managing the cult's computer shops, police said.
When the cult introduced its own ministerial system in June 1994, Noda was appointed as "vehicle minister." He was given the status of seigoshi, a high-ranking religious leader of the cult, in 1995 and joined the cult's highest decision-making body.
Noda also participated in negotiations with the cult's bankruptcy administrator over the sale of Aum real estate acquisitions and profit transfers.
Noda and another senior Aum member resigned from the cult's decision-making body on Dec. 26, one day before the Public Security Investigation Agency sought to place the cult under supervision based on an anti-Aum law to regulate dangerous organizations.
But the Public Security Investigation Agency included Noda in its surveillance procedures and said that he "remains a member of the cult's decision-making body, which is based on a representative system." During a hearing Jan. 20, the agency said Noda "participates in managing the organization even after resigning from the decision-making body," indicating that he remains a central part of the cult.
("Yomiuri Shimbun", January 24, 2000)
YOKOHAMA--Police on Monday searched an Aum Supreme Truth cult facility in Asahimura village, Ibaraki Prefecture, in connection with the reported abduction of cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto's 7-year-old son by six cult members last week from the facility.
Police searched the facility on suspicion that cult members forged and used a private stamped document.
After he was spotted with the boy at a hotel in Hakonemachi, Kanagawa Prefecture, police on Sunday evening arrested cult member Akira Tone, 29, on suspicion that he used a false name to check in at the hotel.
Although Tone was not with the six cult members, police decided to investigate him in connection with the abduction.
Local police on Monday issued a request to the Kanagawa Prefectural government to place the son of Matsumoto--known as Shoko Asahara--in temporary custody at a youth consultation center.
The prefectural government is expected to accept the request and has begun to examine possible centers that would accommodate the boy.
The prefectural police requested temporary custody since they were unable to contact Matsumoto's eldest daughter, 21, who lived with the boy, and due to the possibility that cult members would compete to care for the boy once he returned to the facility.
("South China Morning Post", January 24, 2000)
The seven-year-old son of doomsday cult founder Shoko Asahara was rescued unhurt from an inn yesterday, two days after he was abducted from a cult facility 100km northeast of the capital.
Police said the boy was well after being found at the inn in the resort of Hakone, 90km southwest of Tokyo.
Police arrested a 29-year-old member of the Aleph cult, formerly Aum Shinri Koy, who they identified as Akira Tone, at the inn.
An employee contacted police to say a boy staying at the inn resembled the missing child of the former cult leader.
Tone is thought to have have been a babysitter for Asahara's children and until recently was at an Aleph facility in Otawara, police sources said.
Police believe six people, including two of Asahara's daughters, kidnapped the boy in the village of Asahi at dawn on Friday.
Police obtained arrest warrants on Saturday for the two daughters, aged 18 and 16, and another Aleph member in connection with the abduction. Two male followers have been arrested in connection with the case.
Asahara is on trial for his alleged role in at least 17 major crimes, including masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
The cult announced last week it was changing its name to Aleph, the first character of the Hebrew alphabet, and said Asahara had been formally deposed as leader.
The seven-year-old boy and his five-year-old brother had been living with Asahara's 21-year-old eldest daughter in Asahi.
The 16-year-old daughter has a strong influence within the cult, as she was Asahara's first child after his supposed "enlightenment".
The two young boys have become revered as spiritual leaders since Asahara stepped down as guru in 1996.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper quoted security sources as saying the children in Otawara wanted their brother to live with them to "strengthen their position after their father was deposed".
(Kyodo News Service, January 24, 2000)
TOKYO, Jan. 24 (Kyodo) - The AUM Shinrikyo cult's public relations chief said Monday the alleged abduction of a 7-year-old son of AUM founder Shoko Asahara is a mere quarrel between siblings of the guru.
Hiroshi Araki told a news conference in Tokyo, ''There were no facts of assault or trespassing. The police have overreacted to a mere quarrel between brothers and sisters."
According to police, a group of six people, including two of Asahara's daughters, abducted the boy from an AUM facility in the village of Asahi in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, early Friday morning.
The boy was rescued unhurt at an inn in the hot-spring resort of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Sunday, two days after he was abducted, police said.
Police arrested a 29-year-old AUM member, identified as Akira Tone, who was with the boy, on suspicion he used a fictitious name to register at the inn.
Police obtained arrest warrants Saturday for the two daughters, aged 18 and 16, and another AUM member in connection with the abduction. Two other male followers have been arrested by Ibaraki police in connection with the case.
Araki also said the cult received a telegram addressed to the two daughters from their mother, Tomoko Matsumoto, 41, wife of Asahara, asking them to take good care of the boy, who is the guru's first son.
The whereabouts of the daughters are not known and the cult is trying to track them, Araki added.
According to Araki, the 16-year-old daughter and others visited AUM's Asahi facility Friday at around 3 a.m. but had to force their way in after followers there, including a 21-year-old daughter of Asahara, refused them entry.
The 16-year-old daughter then temporarily left the facility but later returned with an 18-year-old sister, who lives in an AUM facility in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture.
There was then a commotion, while another male follower who had come to the facility with the two sisters took away the 7-year-old boy, Araki said.
A 35-year-old follower at the Asahi facility who police claim was assaulted by the daughters was also present at the news conference. ''I don't think I was assaulted and I can't understand why people are making a big fuss about the incident,'' the follower said.
Asahara, 44, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and his wife Tomoko have four daughters and two sons. Both are in custody for their alleged involvement in a series of AUM-related crimes.
Asahara is on trial for his alleged role in at least 17 major crimes, including masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
The cult announced Tuesday it was changing its name to ''Aleph.''
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