AUM cult successor group raided over illegal recruiting practices

Kyodo News/November 13, 2017

Sapporo -- Police on Monday searched five offices and facilities of the main successor group to the former AUM Shinrikyo cult responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin nerve gas attack.

The police searches came after the group, now known as Aleph, in February allegedly recruited and collected membership fees totaling tens of thousands of yen from a woman without having her fill out the legally required paperwork.

The Hokkaido prefectural police raided a four-story building in Sapporo's Shiroishi Ward understood to be used by Aleph. The building is thought to be the group's largest such facility.

The AUM Shinrikyo cult killed 13 and injured more than 6,000 in the sarin nerve gas attack on March 20, 1995. It renamed itself Aleph in 2000.

The police believe Aleph has been luring young followers without disclosing that it is a religious group and without informing them of its links to the AUM Shinrikyo organization and its criminal history.

According to the police, there were about 1,500 Aleph followers across the country last year.

The number of Aleph followers is on the increase amid younger people who are unaware of AUM Shinrikyo's former criminal activities. Aleph set up a number of yoga classes as a means to encourage potential followers to join, according to the police.

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