Agency: Aum regards guru's jail as "sacred ground"


February 1999
By Yomiuri Shimbun

The Aum Supreme Truth cult regards the Tokyo Detention House, where cult guru Chizuo Matsumoto, 43, is confined, as sacred ground, according to a report on the cult released Friday by the Public Security Investigation Agency.

The report warned that believers remain fiercely loyal to Matsumoto, who adopted the name Shoko Asahara when he founded the cult.

The group refers to the detention house as a "sacred training place where God has given blessings" on its Internet home page, and since autumn has been encouraging cult members to visit the area where the building is located, the report said.

On New Year's day, a metropolitan branch of the cult organized a tour to the detention house, where about 20 believers prayed in front of the main gate, according to the report.

The number of believers living near the detention house increased to about 170 from about 140 in August, the report noted.

Six personal computer shops run by the cult posted combined sales of about 7 billion yen last year, surpassing the 4 billion yen recorded the year before. The shops are located in electronic appliances sales districts in Tokyo and Nagoya.

About 200 of the cult's 500 believers are engaged in computer sales, which is believed to generate as much as 1 billion yen in net profit, the report said.

"Our group poses no danger. The Public Security Investigation Agency should stop its illegal interference, which hinders our religious activities," a cult spokesman said.


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