Police search cult facilities

Asahi Daily News/November 24, 1999
By Masayasu Oishi

The searches stem from the discovery of a body at a hotel in Narita. Asahi Shimbun

Investigators this morning searched the facilities of a self-enlightenment cult that kept the mummified body of a follower at a hotel near Narita airport, Chiba police said.

At about 9:05 a.m., seven to eight police officers searched the hotel where members of the Life Space group, also known as the Shakty Pat Guru Foundation (SPGF), were staying in Ooarai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Ten investigators arrived at SPGF's publishing facility in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, at the same time. They left the site around 10:10 a.m. with six girls who appeared to be elementary or junior high school age.

Police also searched an eatery in Nagoya where SPGF leader Koji Takahashi, 61, is said to have kept his belongings.

The searches were conducted on suspicion that the cult abandoned a dead body.

On Nov. 11, police found the mummified body of Shinichi Kobayashi, 66, who was a member of the group, in a hotel in the Narita airport vicinity.

Kobayashi had been hospitalized for cerebral hemmorhage in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture. But authorities learned that on July 2, Kobayashi was transported from the hospital to the hotel by his 31-year-old son and other cultists.

Police suspect that a lack of proper medical treatment led to Kobayashi's death. The cult kept Kobayashi's body and photo records at the hotel.

Life Space officials insist that Kobayashi was alive when police entered the hotel.

They said they removed Kobayashi from the hospital to give him proper care.

Kobayashi's family paid 8 million yen for Life Space's treatment. Life Space has been involved in similar cases.

In April 1998, a 43-year-old university employee visited a cult facility in Tokyo for treatment of a kidney problem. He died after refusing hospital treatment.

Four years ago, a 22-year-old college student died while taking part in a group seminar.

The parents were awarded 28 million yen in compensation.

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