Foot cult bigwigs admit to fraud

Mainichi Shimbun/June 8, 2000

Former high-ranking members of the Ho-no-Hana Sampogyo religious cult, who are under arrest for fraud, have admitted to the charges against them, police said.

It was the first time that suspects linked to the foot-reading cult have admitted to the group's fraudulent acts.

"We have done things that are inexcusable to the victims," an unnamed former senior cult member was quoted as telling police, referring to training sessions the cult held on the false pretext that they would heal the diseases of participants. The former members told police that they were aware the training sessions were a sham before they recommended that followers participate in the events held in Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Furthermore, the suspects acknowledged that the group's former leader, Hogen Fukunaga, 55, whose real first name is Teruyoshi, is void of supernatural powers. The cult had propagated that only Fukunaga was capable of employing the supernatural to cure diseases.

Fukunaga would put his hand over the eyes of followers during the sessions - a ritual that the group said would cure their diseases. The former executives, however, confessed to police that Fukunaga actually used to let other instructors perform the ritual halfway through.

The former high-ranking members were also in charge of selling expensive commodities to its followers in accordance with Fukunaga's "voice of God."

"My position forced me to recommend that followers join training sessions and buy commodities, even though I knew that recommending such things would constitute a fraud," one of the suspects told police on Tuesday.

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