Doomsday sect asked to move on

Itinerant group told to leave latest roadside camping spot

The Japan Times/May 3, 2003

Gifu -- The Gifu Prefectural Government gave a group dressed in white gowns a 7 p.m. Friday deadline to remove tents and other equipment they have set up beside a highway, in accordance with traffic laws, government officials said.

Members of Pana Wave Laboratory wrap their vans in white Friday on a local road in Gifu Prefecture.

The group had been blocking a mountain road in Gifu Prefecture for about a week before being evicted by police. On Friday, they moved their vehicles about 20 km northeast of that location.

Known as Pana Wave Laboratory, the group was apparently planning to comply with the government order. Members have erected tents and again wrapped their caravan of white vehicles, guardrails and trees around the site in white materials.

The group has been under police surveillance as local residents and authorities have voiced concern over their activities, which include dressing in white from head to toe and saying they are protecting their female leader from electromagnetic waves.

About 50 members of the group in 21 white vehicles stopped along National Route 257 in the village of Kiyomi at around 2:30 a.m. and initially refused to move on.

Police asked them to move the vehicles, but they ignored the request and said they would leave after they finish eating and changing their clothes, police officials said.

Police still plan to examine the vehicles to determine if the group is violating traffic laws, the officials said.

About 10 white vans left a forest road on the border of the towns of Hachiman and Yamato at about 6:50 p.m. Thursday after the police issued arrest warnings.

They had been camped on the forest road since Sunday, living in tents erected beside the road. They had moved to that road from the neighboring village of Izumi, Fukui Prefecture, and said they were on their way to Yamanashi Prefecture.

The group was established around 1977, according to the National Police Agency, and has some 1,200 members nationwide. The leader of of the group is a 69-year-old woman.

It has facilities in Yamanashi and Fukui prefectures and began a nationwide caravan tour in mountain and forest areas in 1994, the NPA said.

The group has recently moved through Tottori, Hyogo, Kyoto, Fukui, Shiga and Gifu prefectures, it said.

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