Two mayors ask white-clad cultists to leave

Japan Today/May 1, 2003

Gifu -- The mayors of two towns in Gifu Prefecture on Wednesday asked members of a cult group clad in white garments occupying a forest road with about 15 vans and cars to leave the area, saying they are causing trouble for local residents. But the cultists refused, saying they were staying there because "there was a seriously ill person" among them.

Hachiman Mayor Kunio Komori and Yamato Mayor Katsumi Hata handed a written request to a representative of the group, called Panawave Laboratory.

Keiichi Hasegawa, a leading member of the cult, showed a medical certificate to the mayors, but the names of the patient and the doctor were inked out so the visiting officials could not see the identity of the sick member.

Cult members told the mayors that they would leave the area on Saturday. "I have no choice but to hope they stick to their promise to leave on Saturday," said Komori.

The municipalities' request that the cult vacate the area was only "administrative guidance" and is not legally binding.

"Even if they stay here after Saturday, I think we have no legal power except an administrative recommendation," Komori added. "I plan to talk with police to see if we can force them to leave."

Before meeting with the town heads, Hasegawa visited the city halls of both local governments to apologize for causing trouble and claimed that his cult was just researching electromagnetic waves.

"We are studying electromagnetic waves for the sake of the public," Hasegawa told local officials. "Although we have been doing research for 10 years, we faced trouble for the first time coming here. I am sorry for occupying the area without telling you previously."

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