AUM members move under local pressure


Mainichi Daily News/June 1, 1999

KAWAGUCHI, Saitama - Witch-hunters trying to expel members of doomsday cult AUM Shinrikyo from Kawaguchi are up in arms after the cultists vacated one factory in the city only to relocate in another close by.

In the face of vehement opposition among local residents to their presence, cultists accepted eviction notices and reluctantly agreed to shift away from the computer factory they had set up in Kawaguchi. Authorities and residents are still jittery about the cult's intentions.

Though it appears the cult's move to Yao, 15 kilometers away, is for real, Kawaguchi residents fear they haven't seen the last of AUM yet.

"Well, it looks like they're packing their bags to leave, so I'm little reassured. But until it's over, I'll still be worried," said one housewife who lives near the cult's former facility in Kawaguchi.

"They told us they're leaving, so I just want to observe what's going on quietly and hope not to disturb (their moving in any way)," said another housewife from the area.

Unfortunately, residents of Yao aren't experiencing the same peace of mind.

"They're quiet, so I'm not scared. But on the other hand, I don't know what they're up to, (so it makes me a little nervous.)," said a housewife from Yao.

Police don't necessarily believe the cult members are up to no good, but still say they must keep an eye on their activities nonetheless.

"They'll probably just be working at the factory (in Yao). It's necessary for them to keep their factories near Tokyo because it's advantageous for their computer import business and for their selling of manufactured parts, which are both a source of revenue for them," said a police spokesperson.

The cult owns affiliate companies that among other things, sell computers, develop computer software and publish book materials.

AUM's main source of revenue, however, is computer sales, say authorities.

According to the Public Security Investigation Agency, the group had sales of nearly 7 billion yen in one year from its six stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area and in Nagoya.

The bulk of those sales were from computers sold at the cult's store in Tokyo's Akihabara district and supplied from its factory in Kawaguchi.

Authorities say cities like Kawaguchi and Yao in southern Saitama are prime locations for the cult's factories because shipping costs to Tokyo are cheap, and both areas offer easy access to the capital On Monday, Yao Mayor Akira Fujinami presented a report to Saitama Gov. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya asking him to create laws that would forbid the doomsday cult from setting up any sort of base within the prefecture.

Gov't OKs law change

Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi on Monday announced that the government intends to amend a law so that it can be applied to AUM Shinrikyo in order to regulate the doomsday cult's activities.

The justice minister's comments came at a time when the religious cult's activities have sparked anxiety among residents in many parts of the nation.

"(The government) intends to revise the Subversive Activities Prevention Law so that authorities can take more effective measures against groups (such as AUM Shinrikyo)," Jinnouchi told a meeting of local public security officials at the Justice Ministry.

The justice minister added that he wanted officials of the Public Security Investigation Agency to study measures against subversive activities and step up their intelligence and information gathering efforts about antisocial organizations.

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