White cult unwraps river bank under gov't threat of force

Mainichi Shimbun/August 31, 2003

Fukui -- The all-white Panawave cult removed white fabric that they had used to cover a long-stretch of a river embankment near their Fukui headquarters to protect themselves from "electromagnetic wave attacks," authorities confirmed Sunday.

White fabric draped across the river before Panawave members removed it overnight.

The Fukui Prefectural Government, which manages the river, had ordered the cult late last month to remove the cloth illegally draping the embankment by the end of August, warning that they would forcibly take them off on Sept. 1.

Panawave members apparently removed the fabric overnight Saturday.

However, they put up dozens of 50-centimeter by 80-centimeter reflectors around their headquarters in the city's Gotaishi district.

"We have to protect ourselves from scalar (electromagnetic) wave attacks," one of the cult members explained. The members added that they would eventually increase the number of reflectors to around 130.

Akihiro Chida, spokesman for the prefectural government, said they would watch the development.

"We'll deal with the matter strictly if they started putting up white fabric (over the embankment) again," he said.

Panawave covered the embankment with the white fabric in May after returning to their Fukui headquarters from their winding tour of central Japan in preparation of the predicted doomsday that failed to arrive.

The cult was reluctant to comply with the local government order but changed their attitude after their headquarters was raided by police over the death of a Fukuoka Prefecture academic in the compound earlier this month.

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