Aum Shinri-kyo and Related Controversies
"Police raid Todai lab linked to apprehended Aum cultist"
An Aum Shinrikyo member under arrest was recently hired as a contract employee by a corporation affiliated with the Science and Technology Agency and had been involved in the development of computer systems at the University of Tokyo's graduate school, police said Wednesday.
Prompted by the new revelation about Atushi Ogata, 45, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly submitting a false resident registration document to a Tokyo ward office, police searched the astronomy laboratory at the university, also known as Todai, on Wednesday morning.
Police are also analyzing some 2,000 items confiscated from the cult's facilities, they said.
Ogata was employed by Japan Science and Technology Corp. on a contract from May to next spring. He has been developing a program to manage data on research results at the laboratory, police said, adding that another 33-year-old Aum member has also been working at the lab.
An official at the corporation said the firm was not aware that Ogata, who had responded to a help-wanted ad, is a member of Aum and added that the firm will decide his status after considering further developments.
Police arrested Ogata, alleging he had submitted a resident registration document to the Bunkyo Ward office last December that stated that he would move in from Adachi Ward. Instead, he moved into a condominium in Taito Ward the following month.
Police apparently used the false registration as a pretext to search several sites linked to the cult.
These included the condo, which they believe is housing other cultists and is an office to develop personal computer software.
On Tuesday, they searched an Aum site in Adachi Ward where senior cult member Fumihiro Joyu lived from Sept. 20 to Oct. 8, a Kita Ward condo where he is currently living and a PC shop opened by cult members in June in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district.
An Aum official said the false resident registration is a kind of "procedural confusion" that was caused by local governments' refusal to allow Aum members to register as residents.
Aum members in the recent past had gained access to the computer systems of various government entities, including the Defense Agency.
Some members of Aum -- which now calls itself Aleph -- have been convicted of crimes or are on trial in serious criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000 and other mass murders.
"University of Tokyo searched for employing arrested AUM cultist"
TOKYO, Oct. 25 (Kyodo) - Police on Wednesday searched the University of Tokyo after learning that an AUM Shinrikyo cultist had been working in its science faculty as a government contractor prior to his arrest Tuesday, police officials said.
Police are worried about the doomsday cult's apparent penetration of Japan's top state-run university, they said.
The allegation follows the disclosure earlier this year that followers of AUM, which is suspected of orchestrating the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, had developed software for government departments including the Defense Agency and major corporations.
Atsushi Ogata, 45, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly submitting a false residency registration to Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward Office. The Wednesday search was focused on a graduate science laboratory located in Bunkyo Ward.
According to investigations, Ogata was hired in May by the Japan Science and Technology Corp., an affiliate of the Science and Technology Agency. He was working on an astronomy computer project at the laboratory, police said.
Under a contract in effect through spring 2001, Ogata, who is believed to be an AUM computer specialist, was developing a program to process data for astronomy research, they said.
Another AUM believer is currently working at the lab, according to police.
An official at the Japan Science and Technology Corp. said it was not aware of Ogata's AUM affiliation as his resume did not reflect it.
He had applied for the job of research assistant on the strength of his personal computer experience after responding to an advertisement in a job magazine. He was hired as he looked like a decent person, the official said.
But AUM spokesman Hiroshi Araki said Wednesday, ''It is not true that Ogata was developing software at a graduate-school laboratory in the University of Tokyo. He was hired as a clerical worker and was handling miscellaneous duties such as making photocopies.
''He does not have knowledge or technological expertise in computer software development.''
Police will likely analyze items seized in the Wednesday search as well as possible evidence recovered in searches of locations connected with Ogata that were carried out Tuesday. Investigators will be looking into what information Ogata had access to at the university, police said.
Earlier this year, police learned that an AUM company was delivering software to government offices and major companies. The cult, which renamed itself Aleph, disbanded the firm in March, saying it could not gain public understanding about the company's business.
Araki said AUM does not engage in software development, adding that if followers do so on an individual basis, their names and addresses are reported to the Justice Ministry's Public Security Investigation Agency.
"AUM cultist nabbed for allegedly faking resident registration"
TOKYO) - Police on Tuesday arrested a member of the AUM Shinrikyo cult for allegedly submitting a false resident registration document to a Tokyo ward office, and searched condominiums, the cult's facility and a personal computer shop.
According to police investigations, Atsushi Ogata, 45, submitted a resident registration document to the Bunkyo Ward office in December last year, saying that he would move in from Adachi Ward, although he in fact moved into a condominium in Taito Ward the following month.
Police apparently used the false registration case as a pretext to search several locations including the condo in Taito Ward, which police believe is used as an accommodation for other cult members and office to develop personal computer software.
Police also searched the cult's facility in Adachi Ward, where Fumihiro Joyu, a senior cult member, lived from Sept. 20 to Oct. 8, a condominium in Kita Ward where Joyu is currently living, and a PC shop cult members opened in June in Tokyo's Akihabara shopping district.
Ogata is thought to be a computer specialist for the cult, which now calls itself Aleph.
An AUM official attributed the false resident registration to confusion caused by efforts of local communities to prevent AUM members from taking residence within them.
Some members of AUM have been convicted of crimes or are on trial in serious criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
"AUM's Joyu to leave Tokyo apartment next month, cult says"
TOKYO - AUM Shinrikyo has sent a notice to the residents of the apartment building in Tokyo's Kita Ward in which senior AUM member Fumihiro Joyu resides, telling them Joyu will leave within a month, a ward official said Monday.
The notice, dated Saturday and signed by an AUM follower who moved into the apartment before Joyu did on Oct. 8, said the top AUM official is staying in the apartment on a ''temporary'' basis, adding he himself will leave by the end of November.
Last Monday, the ward set up a task force headed by ward chief Masao Kitamoto to deal with incoming AUM members and work out measures to prevent the apartment from becoming the cult's new head office.
On Sept. 20, Joyu evacuated AUM's Yokohama branch and moved to a three-story building in Tokyo's Adachi Ward.
He lived in the branch after being released from Hiroshima Prison in late December, where he served out a three-year term for perjury and the falsification of documents.
The Yokohama District Court on Sept. 6 ordered AUM to vacate the Yokohama branch, located in an apartment building, in line with demands by the building's residents.
"4 charges dropped against Aum leader"
The Tokyo District Court on Thursday approved the withdrawal of four illicit drug manufacturing charges against Aum Supreme Truth cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 45, better known as Shoko Asahara.
Earlier this month, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office had applied to the court for the withdrawal of the charges.
With Thursday's approval by presiding Judge Fumihiro Abe, the number of charges against Matsumoto has been reduced from 17 to 13.
The prosecutors began proceedings on Oct. 6 on the 13th charge against Matsumoto, in which he allegedly ordered construction of a sarin gas plant. With the opening of the 13th case, court proceedings have now begun on all charges against Matsumoto.
TOKYO, Oct. 13 (Kyodo) The Public Security Investigation Agency inspected a Tokyo facility and the Nagoya branch of AUM Shinrikyo on Friday in line with a law aimed at cracking down on the religious cult.
It was the first search by the agency of the cult's facilities since Sept. 14 and the 11th since it has begun searching AUM facilities.
It was also the first time for the agency to inspect the Nagoya branch since AUM resumed its activities at the branch's rented building in Nishi Ward, agency sources said.
The cult moved into the Shin Senju facility in Tokyo's Adachi Ward and the Nagoya branch in August.
Police believe AUM uses the Tokyo facility to train its members, as followers are frequently seen entering and leaving it.
Several AUM-related facilities are located in the ward, including a building where senior AUM member Fumihiro Joyu, 37, lived until Oct. 8 before moving to an apartment in neighboring Kita Ward.
AUM had previously occupied the Nagoya building, vacating it late last December. When the cult resumed renting it in August, it promised the landlord it would stop holding religious seminars there.
However, the activities resumed and AUM followers have frequented the building, according to investigators.
The agency said it has been monitoring the branch, suspecting it may become AUM's new headquarters in central Japan.
Under the law, enacted in December last year, occupants of AUM facilities who refuse or hinder police searches can face up to one year in prison.
"Death penalty sought for ex-AUM member for sarin attack"
TOKYO, Oct. 11 (Kyodo) - Prosecutors on Wednesday demanded the death penalty for a former member of the AUM Shinrikyo who allegedly took part in a 1994 nerve-gas attack that killed seven people in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
The prosecutors, who made their demand at the Tokyo District Court, said Noboru Nakamura, 33, also abducted the 68-year-old relative of an AUM follower in 1995 and conspired to kill a 27-year-old AUM member in 1994.
Nakamura has pleaded not guilty to all the charges during earlier hearings at the court.
In the sarin gas attack of June 27, 1994, Nakamura allegedly served as a lookout while other AUM members released the gas. The attack, that targeted a condominium where judges lived, killed nearby residents.
Two other former AUM members who took part in the attack have already been sentenced. Satoru Hashimoto, 33, who drove a van equipped with a sprayer and a fan that released the deadly gas, was sentenced to death, and Takashi Tomita, 42, who drove another lookout van, was handed a 17-year prison term.
Both men have appealed the rulings.
"Senior AUM member Joyu moves to Tokyo's Kita Ward"
TOKYO, Oct. 9 (Kyodo) - Senior AUM Shinrikyo member Fumihiro Joyu has moved to an apartment in Tokyo's Kita Ward, near the cult's facility in Adachi Ward where he temporarily lived after leaving the sect's Yokohama branch last month, police sources said Monday.
Joyu, 37, and several other AUM members left the facility around 10 p.m. Sunday for the apartment, some 10 kilometers west of the facility, according to the sources.
Adachi Ward had requested the owner of the building to evict the AUM members and local residents had begun preparations for a protest movement.
Joyu gave a letter dated Sept. 25 to the owner, in which he pledged to move out within two weeks.
Kita Ward set up a task force on Monday headed by ward chief Masao Kitamoto to deal with incoming AUM members and work out measures to prevent the apartment from becoming the cult's new head office, ward officials said.
Kitamoto called the move by Joyu and other AUM members to the ward ''very regrettable,'' as it could cause anxiety among residents and adversely affect their lives.
''I will discuss this issue with the ward assembly and local people and immediately work out countermeasures,'' he said.
Kita Ward has confirmed that the apartment in the seven-story building is the only place in the ward where AUM members reside, the officials said.
According to the police, the apartment in Kita Ward was formerly used by AUM members to develop computer software.
On Sept. 20, Joyu evacuated AUM's Yokohama branch and moved to a three-story building owned by a metal processing company in Adachi Ward. He had been living in the branch after he was released from Hiroshima Prison in late December after serving out a three-year term for perjury and document falsification.
The Yokohama District Court on Sept. 6 ordered AUM to vacate its Yokohama branch, located in an apartment building, in line with demands by the building's residents.
Joyu became well-known to the Japanese public through his media exposure as AUM's spokesman until his arrest in October 1995.
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