Ishihara to ban Aum members from facilities


The Japan Times, July 7, 1999

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara told the metropolitan assembly Wednesday that he will not allow members of Aum Shinrikyo to use Tokyo's public facilities.

Responding to a question raised by a Liberal Democratic Party assembly member, Ishihara said the metropolitan government will apply its ordinance that prohibits those who "could disturb public order" from using such facilities.

The cult is "a group that committed vicious crimes, such as mass murder in the subway nerve gas attack," Ishihara said, adding that permission given to any applicant should be withdrawn if any relationship between the applicant and the group is discovered.

Ishihara said he will ask Tokyo's municipalities to follow suit.

In response to Tokyo residents' growing anxiety over Aum followers' activities and to prevent a recurrence of such deadly incidents as the 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack, the metropolitan government will set up a working group of metro officials this month to gather information on the cult and map out possible measures, Ishihara said.

The officials will also work with a liaison group of local governments across the country to call on the central government to legislate a tough law against Aum.

In a related move, the mayor of Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, met Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka on Wednesday to seek understanding for the city's move to reject applications for resident registry from two children of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara.

Submitting a petition calling for tougher measures against Aum, Mayor Kazuo Senbo explained that the rejection was made in light of "social welfare," because the lives and peace of local residents have been greatly disturbed since Aum followers moved into the city.

Later Wednesday, Nonaka supported the city's move during a news conference, saying the mayor could not do anything but reject the applications. "While the move poses problems in view of human rights, it was the mayor's decision to ease the anxiety of local residents," Nonaka said.

He also said members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are now planning to submit a law to limit the cult's activities.

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