An Aum Supreme Truth cult faction has been asked to vacate a condominium in Chiba Prefecture it was discovered to be using as a religious training facility, sources said Wednesday.
In April, the Urban Renaissance Agency, an independent administrative agency that manages the building, asked the faction led by cult representative Fumihiro Joyu to leave the premise within the month.
The faction has refused to do so, but said it would comply with the request within three months. Some cult members still live in the apartment at the Narashino condominium.
Joyu, 43, often visits the apartment, leased in the name of a 40-year-old female leader of the Joyu faction, the sources said.
The woman, who still lives in the flat, said she would move out by July.
The agency's Chiba branch said it would keep an eye on the situation for a while, but that it might take legal action against the cult faction to get it to move out.
It is the first time the agency has found Aum using one of its condominiums.
According to the public security authorities and the agency, the woman was allowed the 96-square-meter apartment--with four bedrooms and a living room--on the condition that she would live alone. However, in early January, soon after she moved in, two female cult members joined her and many others began to regularly visit the condominium. After a while, Joyu began frequenting the apartment about once every two weeks, they said.
The Public Security Investigation Agency inspected the living quarters in February based on the Subversive Organizations Control Law. The agency confirmed that members who support Joyu were indoctrinated there and found books written by the sect's founder Chizuo Matsumoto, 51, who was sentenced to death by a district court, and video tapes of his lectures.
After questioning the woman early last month, the Urban Renaissance Agency determined the cult members were using the apartment as a training facility and submitted a written request on April 5 to three members demanding that they leave by April 20.
In response to the request, the woman refused to acquiesce, but said they would do so within three months. They are still using the apartment.
"We can't move out right away, because it takes time to find a new place to live," the woman told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
The Urban Renaissance Agency's rule concerning lease contracts stipulates that renters must get approval from the agency if they wish to use an apartment for purposes other than as a residence. The rule also says the agency can nullify the contract if the contractor is in violation of the agreement.
The Joyu faction aims to set up a new religious sect, splitting the Aum cult, a faction leader said Wednesday.
"We're now considering a new religious sect," the executive said in a written statement issued Wednesday. "An increasing number of the members say we should reflect on all the problems of our former sect and have a fresh start."
The statement does not mention when the new sect would be established.
The Joyu faction is holding a five-day seminar that ends Sunday at the sect's facilities in Tokyo and Osaka. A few dozen members attended the seminar Wednesday. Joyu is believed to have lectured at the Osaka seminar.
On the other hand, the anti-Joyu faction is holding a nine-day seminar that ends Sunday at the sect's facilities in Saitama and Kyoto.
At the end of last year, the two factions held separate seminars for the first time. The second round of separate meetings signified they are ready to split, sources said.