Japanese Cult Leader Kin Arrested


The Associated Press, April 22, 2000

TOKYO (AP) - The oldest daughter of the former leader of the cult that gassed Tokyo's subways in 1995 was arrested Saturday on suspicion of illegal possession of a knife.

Police arrested Miwa Matsumoto, 21, the daughter of Shoko Asahara, after she was brought in for questioning about her involvement in a minor road accident in Tokyo early Saturday morning.

She was found carrying a fruit knife with a 3.7-inch blade wrapped in a towel, said a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

Police detained her on suspicion she violated Japan's strict Firearms and Sword Possession Control Law because she had no legitimate reason to be carrying such a knife, the spokesman said. He said he didn't know what penalty she could face if convicted.

Asahara is on trial for allegedly masterminding the Aum Shinri Kyo cult's 1995 nerve gas attack, which killed 12 people and injured thousands of others.

Matsumoto had disappeared from a cult facility northeast of Tokyo in January, the same month that Asahara's seven-year-old son was briefly kidnapped by six cult members, including another of his daughters, Kyodo News agency reported.

Kyodo quoted Matsumoto as telling police she had been carrying the knife for protection since the abduction.

In Saturday's accident, Matsumoto was a passenger in a van that collided with a car in central Tokyo. The van was driven by a female cult member who was not arrested, police said.


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