Woman who harbored AUM's Hirata had 8 mil. yen in cash

The Mainichi Daily News, Japan/January 14, 2012

Tokyo -- A former AUM Shinrikyo follower, who sheltered a fugitive former senior member of the cult for nearly 17 years, had 8 million yen in cash when she turned herself in to Tokyo police on Tuesday, investigative sources said Thursday.

The police will investigate the source of the cash, while Makoto Hirata, the fugitive, was reported to have received 10 million yen in cash in the spring of 1995 from another senior member of the cult to support his life on the run, the sources said.

Hirata, 46, surrendered to the police on Dec. 31 and was arrested the following day on suspicion of conspiring with AUM founder Shoko Asahara and his followers to abduct Kiyoshi Kariya, a Tokyo notary clerk, and inject him with a chemical, causing his death in March 1995. AUM members abducted Kariya in a bid to discover the whereabouts of his rich, younger sister who had tried to leave the cult.

Akemi Saito, 49, handed over the 8 million yen along with her cellphone and Hirata's expired driving license when she turned herself in, accompanied by lawyer Taro Takimoto, who has been interviewing Hirata.

According to Takimoto, Saito had exactly 8 million yen in crisp bills. Saito had kept the cash in her apartment in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, where she worked at an osteopathic clinic under the false name of Shoko Yoshikawa.

Using the false name, Saito maintained a bank account and participated in a pension plan.

Takimoto also quoted Saito as saying that she and Hirata had concealed themselves in Osaka for around 15 years as Hirata had proposed moving to a crowded urban area from the less populated Tohoku region.

Saito, a former nurse from Fukushima Prefecture, became an AUM member in 1993. Her whereabouts were unknown after the police searched AUM's key facilities in 1995 following the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system masterminded by Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.

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