Aum offshoot reports founding

Asahi, Japan/May 8, 2007

Tokyo -- An offshoot group of the former Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult formally reported its founding to the government's Public Security Intelligence Agency on Monday.

The group named Hikari no Wa (Ring of lights) is headed by former senior Aum member Fumihiro Joyu. Aum changed its name to Aleph after members were indicted for a series of crimes culminating in the deadly sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

Akitoshi Hirosue, vice representative of the offshoot group, reported not only the establishment of the new group but also the process of its founding as well as membership details.

As of Sunday, the group had 57 live-in communal followers and 106 others who have their own place of residence.

The group's senior members met Saturday to approve the doctrines of the organization.

Meanwhile, the security agency regards the offshoot group as under the influence of Aum founder Chizuo Matsumoto, who is on death row. For this reason, the agency will continue to monitor the group, officials said.

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