Japan Investigates Suspected New Age Cult

Herald Tribune/May 1, 2003

Japanese police on Thursday began searching the vehicles of a New Age group that has blocked a mountain road for days, draped white sheets from the trees and accused leftists of trying to harm its members with electromagnetic waves.

The group, which calls itself Panawave, took over the road in western Gifu state last week, saying it was fleeing persecution.

The 30 people in the caravan have refused to move until the end of this week, saying they are caring for a gravely ill woman who is believed to be their guru. They said they cannot move on because of her poor health.

The group draped the trees in white cloth, claiming it neutralizes the effects of harmful electromagnetic waves.

About 300 police surrounded the group and began searching their vehicles, but no arrests were made Thursday.

A Panawave spokesman said the caravan was protecting Yuko Chino, 69, a self-proclaimed prophet who preaches a blend of Christianity, Buddhism and New Age doctrines.

According to the group's literature, Chino believes that a 10th planet is moving closer to the earth and will cause "cataclysmic" changes this summer.

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