Government to tighten control on AUM activities

Kyodo/May 24, 1999

TOKYO -- Senior officials from the National Police Agency and other government departments held an inter-agency meeting Monday and vowed to crack down on illegal activities by the AUM Shinrikyo cult.

The officials agreed that for the time being the government should strengthen ways to uncover unlawful business activities by AUM followers under tax laws, the Labor Standards Law and other laws.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furukawa, head of the inter-agency group, said AUM maintains an antisocial dogma and has not offered any apologies nor shown any repentance for its organized crimes, such as 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

"The recent situation is very serious, as the cult is acquiring land plots for its new facilities and causing great anxiety among local residents," Furukawa said.

Officials of the National Police Agency and the Public Security Investigation Agency reported on current activities of AUM at the meeting. The inter-agency group agreed to keep in close contact on matters concerning the sect.

The inter-agency group is composed of senior officials from the two agencies, the Justice Ministry, the National Tax Administration, the Home Affairs Ministry and other government ministries concerned.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said in a press conference Monday that the inter-agency group will also study the possibility of establishing a new law or revising the Antisubversive Activities Law to enable it to be used to restrict AUM activities.

In 1997, the Public Security Commission, an independent administrative body, rejected the government's request that the Antisubversive Activities Law be adopted to disband AUM, which was accused of various crimes including the Tokyo subway gassing, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,300 others.

At the time, the commission said AUM posed no threat to society as it has been declared bankrupt and most of its followers who were wanted by police had been arrested.

Recently, however, the AUM sect has shown signs of stepping up its activities. It has reportedly set up two prefabricated buildings in the mountain village of Kawakami in Nagano Prefecture, stirring anxiety among local residents.

Also, some 2,500 residents of Sanwa, Ibaraki Prefecture held a town meeting Sunday to try to prevent AUM Shinrikyo moving into the area.

Tsutomu Hata, secretary general of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said Monday that the party will study the possibility of establishing a new law and applying the Antisubversive Activities Law to limit AUM activities.

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