Continued surveillance sought for Aum-linked groups in Japan

Japan Times/October 26, 2020

The Public Security Intelligence Agency requested Monday an extension of the surveillance period for three groups deriving from the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult.

The agency filed the request with the Public Security Examination Commission, as the current surveillance period expires in January 2021.

The three groups are Aleph, which is Aum’s successor organization, Hikari no Wa, which is a splinter group of Aleph, and another group separated from Aleph in 2015, called Yamadara no Shudan, which mainly consists of female members.

The request for an extension is the first since former Aum leader Chizuo Matsumoto, then 63, and other senior members of the cult were executed in July 2018 over a series of crimes, including a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995.

The extension of the surveillance period will allow authorities to conduct on-site inspections of the groups’ facilities for three more years.

The security agency pointed out that the three groups are still under the strong influence of Matsumoto, who went by the name of Shoko Asahara. It also claimed that they are following principles based on Aum’s doctrines, such as one encouraging murder.

The agency said that even after the execution of Matsumoto, members of the groups remain devoted to him and that there has been no change in their activities.

The groups together have some 1,650 followers in Japan and around 130 in Russia. They own 31 facilities in 15 of the country’s 47 prefectures, according to the agency.

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