AUM victim Kono to serve as inspector for splinter group

Mainichi, Japan/December 3, 2011

Tokyo -- Yoshiyuki Kono, a victim of a sarin gas attack by the AUM Shinrikyo cult in 1994, has accepted an offer by an AUM splinter group to serve as one of its inspectors, he said Friday.

The group, called Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light) and led by former AUM spokesman Fumihiro Joyu, had offered the job to the 61-year-old whose wife died after being in a coma for years following the attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.

"I want to look with my own eyes at what it is actually doing by going in there on my own," Kono said. "I wish to serve as a bridge for residents around (the group's facilities) who are concerned" about their presence.

Kono and four others including an academic and a Shinto priest will take the job that would involve probing into the group's workings through surveys and meetings with group members. The five can lodge complaints with authorities about unlawful or problematic activities.

On Monday, the Public Security Intelligence Agency sought to keep the splinter group as well as the main cult, which renamed itself Aleph in 2000, under state surveillance for three more years, asserting they remain under the strong influence of cult founder Shoko Asahara.

Joyu's group has argued it does not need such surveillance, saying it will establish a panel of inspectors as a more effective way to monitor its activities.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death for masterminding a series of crimes, including the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system. While the ruling has been finalized, his execution has not yet been carried out.

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