Gov't favors new legislation for controlling AUM

Kyodo News, Sept. 7, 1999

TOKYO, Sept. 7, 1999 (Kyodo) -- The government has asked officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to study a new law that would specifically restrict the activities of the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Tuesday.

The top government spokesman told a news conference that drawing up a new law directed only at AUM may be better than revising the 1952 Antisubversive Activities Law to control the cult's activities.

Revising the 1952 law "could create various new problems," Nonaka said. The spokesman earlier said changing the law could cause concern that it may be applied to other groups.

In 1997, the Public Security Commission, an independent body, rejected the government's request to invoke the Antisubversive Activities Law to disband AUM.

The commission said AUM no longer posed a threat to the public as it had been declared bankrupt as a religious corporation and since most of its followers wanted by police had been arrested.

However, the cult has recently been moving to establish strongholds in various parts of Japan, causing conflicts with local residents.

AUM leader Shoko Asahara and a number of AUM members have been charged with murder and attempted murder in various crimes, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo's subway system, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.

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