NPA promises to keep monitoring Pana Wave cult

Japan Times/May 9, 2003

Hidehiko Sato, chief of the National Police Agency, stressed Thursday that police will continue to monitor the Pana Wave Laboratory cult, citing public concerns over its members' behavior.

"The bizarre nature of its members' outfits plus a sense they are strange are causing public anxiety," Sato told a regular news conference. "We have no plan to change our policy to build up efforts to resolve these concerns."

The police are monitoring the traveling group, whose members are decked head-to-toe in white, although it has committed no crimes except for alleged minor violations of the Road Traffic Law.

The NPA says there are similarities between Pana Wave and the early stages of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, whose members committed the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, killing 12 people and injuring over 5,000.

On some critics' concerns about overreaction by local residents and police, which some believe might have exacerbated problems with Aum, Sato said, "We don't mean to be running them to earth in a blind panic. We just won't overlook violations of the law."

In Nagano Prefecture on Thursday, the group of about 60 moved in a caravan of 20 or so white vehicles from a parking area in Chino city, where they stayed almost a full day, through mountain areas near Matsumoto toward Gifu Prefecture.

Local police believe the group is likely heading for Fukui Prefecture, where it has facilities.

Members believe the world will end in the near future and that white clothing protects them from electromagnetic waves.

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