Anti-Aum group to hold rally in Tokyo


June 4, 1999

NAGANO, Japan, June 4, 1999 (Kyodo) -- A group opposed to the AUM Shinrikyo religious cult, consisting of 20 local governments and one prefectural administrative union, is planning to hold a rally in Tokyo in July protesting the cult's moves to set up offices in local areas, group members said Friday.

The July 1 rally is aimed at urging the central government to further restrict AUM's activities through the creation of new laws, they said. The group also wants to exchange information on cult facilities nationwide and countermeasures taken by each municipal government against AUM members' efforts to move into their areas.

The group plans to ask Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi, Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda and Diet members representing the municipalities to attend the rally.

In 1997, the Public Security Commission, an independent body, rejected the government's request to disband AUM.

The cult's founder, Shoko Asahara, has been charged with numerous crimes, including murder and attempted murder in a 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway. In addition, a number of current and former AUM members have been implicated in the subway attack as well as in a series of other serious crimes.

More recently, the government has decided to consider new laws aimed at restricting AUM activities. The decision was prompted by signs that the cult is starting to make a comeback and that some AUM members have been finishing their prison terms to return to cult activities.

Despite a police crackdown following the nerve gas attack, AUM has been establishing offices and other facilities in various parts of the country.

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