Police raid bizarre "white cult"

Mainichi Shimbun, Japan/May 14, 2003

Police raided locations connected to the bizarre "white cult" Wednesday for minor offenses amid persistent resistance from its members, investigators said.

Law enforcers are determined to take the opportunity with Wednesday's raids to launch full-scale investigations in a bid to get to the bottom of the activities of the mysterious cult.

A 66-year-old man, who is believed to be the second-in-command of the Panawave Laboratory, said the cult is poised to respond by taking legal action against law enforcement authorities.

"We're no harm to society, and regularly report our activities to police. We'll take legal action. We only grow stronger and more powerful whenever we are bashed. Our group will never disband," he said in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

The high-ranking cultist corrected a prediction that a major disaster will devastate the Earth on Thursday. "I think it will be delayed till around May 22."

The Metropolitan Police Department, and Yamanashi, Fukui, Okayama and Fukuoka prefectural police departments mobilized hundreds of investigators to search 12 facilities located in areas under their respective jurisdictions and the cult's 17 vehicles.

The 12 locations include Panawave's headquarters in Fukui, two dome-shaped buildings that a follower possesses in Oizumi, Yamanashi Prefecture, and an affiliated publishing company's office in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

Search warrants accuse the cult of falsely registering a 55-year-old man living in Okayama Prefecture as the owner of three vehicles in 1998, despite the fact that the cult owns them.Investigators believe the Okayama man, a construction company operator whose name was not immediately known, previously belonged to an affiliate of the cult.

"A cult member asked me to allow them to use my name (in registering the vehicles)," he was quoted as telling investigators during questioning.

The doomsday cult was established in around 1977 under the pretext of conducting research on electromagnetic waves that they claim harm the human body.

Followers claim they cover their vehicles with white sheets and wear white clothes in order to protect their 69-year-old leader, who calls herself "Yuko Chino," and themselves from electromagnetic waves.

They have moved from one place to another across the country and frequently park their vehicles in public places and on streets, as well as get into disputes with local residents.The National Police Agency says the cult has about 1,200 followers across the country and sells newsletters and books to finance their activities.

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