An affiliate of the AUM Shinrikyo cult was involved in the development of the core computer system of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), which controls its troops across the country, Jiji Press reported Thursday. It was learned earlier that another AUM affiliate was involved in the development of a local area network (LAN) at the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF).
The latest revelations suggest that the cult, which now calls itself Aleph, may have been involved in the development of computer systems for the MSDF as well as GSDF, as part of its failed bid to arm itself and wage war against the government, observers say.
The finding has prompted the Defense Agency to launch investigations in a bid to see if the force's confidential information has been leaked to the cult and to specify which part of the system the cult affiliate developed. The MSDF will also investigate whether the cult's affiliates were involved in the development of other important computer systems.
Agency officials, however, maintain that there have been no technical problems involving the system to date.
Following the revelations that the cult was involved in the development of the GSDF's LAN, the MSDF conducted a probe into its own systems, but failed to find the cult's involvement.
Fumihiro Joyu, a high-ranking member of AUM, denied that the cult had any intention of illicitly obtaining confidential data from the government. The Defense Agency commissioned a computer software development company around 1995 to develop the system that the MSDF would use to control MSDF's destroyers, aircraft, patrol vessels and submarines, the press agency reported.
The company, whose name was not immediately known, leased out the work to a number of companies including the AUM affiliate.
A member of the cult, who had not joined its priesthood, played the key role in developing the MSDF system, Jiji said. The system was completed in 1998 and was put into practical use in March 1999.
The host computer of the system is installed at the command post of the the Self-Defense Fleet in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and its terminal units are placed at the posts of the force's major troops.
It was learned earlier that another AUM affiliate was involved in the development of software for central government ministries and agencies and other government organizations as well as major companies. They included the Construction Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Posts and
Telecommunications Ministry and the Metropolitan Police Department. The data that Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. had on nuclear power-plant construction works had leaked to the cult.
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