AUM still dangerous

Mainichi Shimbun/December 24, 2000

The nation's law enforcers are on the alert as the AUM Shinrikyo doomsday cult is tenaciously trying to "build up its power by conducting operations over the Internet," the Public Security Investigation Agency said in a report.

The agency claimed that the new law enacted late last year allowing constant observation of the death cult has paid off as now more is known about the cult's activities than ever before. The comments came in a report by the agency that provided an analysis on domestic and overseas public security in 2000 and in the coming year. However, the agency cautioned that, by using the Internet and other information technology, the cult "is aiming at increasing the efficiency of its operations" to revitalize its power and structure.

The Justice Ministry's Public Security Examination Commission, which approved putting the cult under strict supervision, plans to keep the measure in place although one year has already passed since the law came into effect.

Officials close to the commission said the cult, which now calls itself Aleph, should still be supervised partly because it is still being manipulated by guru Chizuo Matsumoto, commonly known as Shoko Asahara. "The group is still controlled by Matsumoto. His thoughts have yet to surface during trials (of AUM's crimes), so we have no choice but to believe the group is still dangerous," said Kozo Fujita, the chief of the commission.

Agency officials, who are in charge of supervising the cult under the law, said they have inspected AUM facilities dozens of times. "The inspections have deterred AUM members from engaging in (illegal) activities, and, thereby, easing tension with residents (living near AUM facilities)," one official said.

Because of the constant inspections, AUM members were not able to make a living by cult activities alone, and ended up looking for employment. "But they are finding jobs only because it's needed," a senior official of the agency cautioned. "They are not trying to fit into society."

The agency's report also cites the possibility of Japanese Red Army members trying to liberate its founder, Fusako Shigenobu, who has been under arrest since November.

"We cannot deny the possibility that Red Army members still on wanted lists may attempt to free (Shigenobu)," the report says.

Internationally, the report mentions and analyzes the historic inter-Korean summit earlier this year and North Korea's diplomatic rapprochement with Russia and European countries. The rapid pace of diplomatic developments involving North Korea would make concerned countries compete for initiatives, it says.

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