Kooky cult gets all clear

Mainichi Daily News/May 2003

Oizumi, Yamanashi -- Fears that kooky cult Panawave Laboratory could launch a doomsday attack from a series of domes it has set up here have been allayed following an inspection by local officials and residents.

A group of 10 representing Oizumi officials and residents visited the village's Panawave complex and inspected the domes, discovering that they were all basically like normal houses.

They were also relieved to hear from a man claiming to be the cult's deputy leader, who said that cult members were not headed for this tranquil Yamanashi Prefecture village.

Entirely white-garbed Panawave Laboratory members have been traveling from Kiyomi, Gifu Prefecture, in a caravan that covers the road, surrounding areas and caravan vehicles in white cloth before proceeding.

It is believed the all-white procession is being carried out under the orders of the cult's ailing leader, 69-year-old Yuko Chino.

Chino has promised to release a public statement on Monday.

Panawave was reportedly formed in the late 1970s and has an official membership of around 3,000, although the real number is believed to be considerably lower.

The group claims that electromagnetic waves are causing catastrophic environmental destruction, including a rise in temperature. The damages caused by the waves will ultimately result in the end of the earth, according to the cult. Cult members believe a massive earthquake will occur on May 15, destroying humanity. It claims the domes in Oizumi can withstand any natural disaster.

They also allege that scalar wave attacks are being carried out by communist terrorists who have dispersed around the world following the break up of the Soviet Union.

Panawave members always wear white garments saying that they protect them from the ill effects of electromagnetic waves. They have previously been in trouble with authorities for blocking traffic and covering road signs, signals and trees with white cloths.

The cult is also believed to be sponsoring a group that tried to net Tama-chan the bearded seal who lived in a Yokohama river in March.

The animal rights group, the Tama-chan wo Omou Kai (Consideration for Tama-chan Society), built a tiny pool in a mountainous village in Yamanashi Prefecture with the cult's money and reportedly planned to keep the seal until they could transfer it back to arctic seas.

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