Group, police not on same wavelength

The Asahi Shimbun/May 1, 2003

A five-day standoff involving a group of white-robed doomsayers continued Wednesday, with police continuing to urge the bizarre caravan to move on.

The Hachiman Police Department dispatched 20 officers in four patrol vehicles to monitor members of the Pana Wave Laboratory who set up camp on a mountainous road here late Friday. Group members told town officials they would depart by Saturday, but officials of Hachiman and neighboring Yamato are insisting they leave immediately.

The 40-strong group says it is trying to escape from electromagnetic waves that it claims are the result of a conspiracy by left-wing groups aided by former members of the KGB and scientists.

All the followers are dressed in white, as are the 15 or so vehicles in their caravan. Group members have also draped surrounding hedgerows in white.

A lawyer who has worked for victims of the Aum Shinrikyo cult said Pana Wave Laboratory was an offshoot of a religious organization that emerged in the late 1970s.

Taro Takimoto said the group released a publication in the spring of 2002 that hinted at Armageddon.

The group said mankind would be destroyed if its founder, who is said to be ill, should die.

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