Over 1,000 people attend anti-AUM rally in Tochigi Pref.

July 12, 1999

UTSUNOMIYA, Japan, July 11, 1999 (Kyodo) -- More than 1,000 people attended a rally in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture on Sunday, calling for AUM Shinrikyo cult's immediate departure from the city.

A local private council opposed to the cult's presence said rally participants included not only Otawara residents but also people from the nearby city of Yaita and the town of Kitsuregawa.

The protesters surrounded a former Japanese inn used by two of AUM founder Shoko Asahara's children and about a dozen AUM followers as their residence, shouting, "AUM, get out."

While the protesters staged the rally, AUM members blared cult songs from speakers. About 135 police were deployed to maintain order.

Masao Shibata, leader of the anti-AUM council, said, "We want to convince AUM that the local community is united and will fight to the end."

The Otawara city office on June 28 denied residency to Asahara's 18-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. Applications for residency had been filed on their behalf by AUM members.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and a number of AUM members are on trial for murder and attempted murder charges stemming from such crimes as the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,300 others.

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