Aum Shinrikyo remains dangerous and continued surveillance of the cult is needed, Yukio Kakiage, head of the Justice Ministry's Public Security Investigation Agency, said Wednesday.
"I hope you will do everything possible to renew the surveillance on Aum Shinrikyo in line with a law regulating such groups," Kakiage told a gathering of public security bureau officials from around the country.
The law was enacted in December 1999 with the aim of restricting the activities of any organization that has committed "indiscriminate mass murder during the past 10 years." In effect, that narrows the scope down to Aum, whose members have been accused of carrying out the deadly sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 and anther fatal nerve gas attack the previous year in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture.
The Public Security Examination Commission in February 2000 applied the law to the cult to place it under surveillance for up to three years. The surveillance order expires at the end of January, so Kakiage is seeking its renewal.
Under the law, Aum is required to submit a report every three months on its members, activities and details of its assets. Police and agency officers are allowed to search its premises without warrants.
"Aum still poses a danger to society, although it is trying to obtain public trust by holding frequent news conferences and taking other steps. It still tends to be exclusionist and shows strong resistance to outsiders," Kakiage said.
He told the security bureau chiefs to collect evidence to show the threat Aum poses, in preparation for applying for the renewal of the surveillance order.
Shoko Asahara, 47, Aum's founder and leader, is on trial for murder related to the two sarin attacks and a number of other crimes. His real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. The subway attack resulted in 12 deaths and thousands of injuries. Several other cultists have been convicted in these cases.