Tokyo, Dec. 16 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency has conducted a record number of on-site inspections on three groups deriving from the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, Jiji Press learned on Thursday.
The agency conducted 38 on-site inspections at facilities belonging to the religious organizations so far this year, the highest since surveillance began in 2000, agency sources said.
The surveillance, based on a related law, allows authorities to conduct on-site inspections of the groups’ facilities.
The three groups subject to the surveillance are Aleph, which is Aum Shinrikyo’s successor organization, “Hikari no Wa,” which is a splinter group of Aleph, and another group that separated from Aleph in 2015, called “Yamada-ra no Shudan.”
Members of Aum Shinrikyo were responsible for a number of crimes, including the March 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system, which claimed 14 lives and injured more than 6,000 people.
According to the agency, the previous record of inspections on related facilities was 32 in 2017. This year, the agency had inspected a total of 43 facilities in 13 prefectures 38 times as of Wednesday, 31 of which were Aleph’s.
“Aleph’s activities are becoming increasingly unclear, and we’re stepping up the monitoring,” an agency official said.
The law requires the groups to report on their activities every three months.
But the reports that Aleph submitted after February last year did not contain required information such as the assets of profit-making activities and the ranks of live-in followers. Aleph has not come up with any report since May this year, ignoring repeated instructions to do so by the agency.
In October, the agency for the first time sought approval from the Public Security Examination Commission to restrict Aleph’s activities.
Later, Aleph submitted a report, but without some necessary information. The agency is working to understand the situation through on-site inspections.