Sep 26, 2017

Surveillance of doomsday cult spin-off group ended by judge

Fumihiro Joyu of Hikari no Wa, an offshoot of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, speaks at a news conference after the Tokyo District Court removed it from official surveillance Sept. 25. (Goto Ryota)
Fumihiro Joyu of Hikari no Wa
Asahi Shimbun
September 26, 2017

A court lifted government surveillance of an offshoot of Aum Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult that orchestrated deadly sarin gas attacks on Tokyo's subway system in 1995.

Hikari no Wa (Circle of light) split from Aleph, formerly Aum Shinrikyo, in 2007, but a surveillance order imposed on Aum continued to be applied to both Aleph and later Hikari no Wa.

Tokyo District Court Presiding Judge Toshiyuki Hayashi revoked the order for Hikari no Wa on Sept. 25, which has been active for a decade, saying it was “unlawful as it is a separate group from Aleph.”

The judge reasoned Sept. 25 that Hikari no Wa “is quite different in nature (from Aleph), manifested in its refusal of absolute devotion to Chizuo Matsumoto (Shoko Asahara), the Aum Shinrikyo founder on death row, and other aspects.”

Hikari no Wa took the case to court claiming the renewal of the surveillance order of 2015 was illegal. It argued that placing it under surveillance based on the organization control law, special legislation that took effect in 1999 to keep tabs on Aum Shinrikyo's activities, was unjustified.

The government placed Aum under surveillance in 2000.

In 1995, Aum Shinrikyo carried out the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system that left 13 people dead and thousands sickened.

Later it came to light that the cult carried out countless criminal acts, including murder and another sarin gas attack.

The surveillance order was renewed every three years. When the group renamed itself Aleph in 2000, the order stayed with it.

In 2007, Hikari no Wa, led by Fumihiro Joyu, split from Aleph. The government continued its surveillance on both and renewed the surveillance order against them in 2009, 2012 and 2015.

When a group is under surveillance based on the organization control law, the Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA) has the authority to inspect facilities related to it, and the group is required to regularly reveal names of members and other details.

“The unjust order that continued a decade significantly breached our human rights,” said Joyu at a news conference in Tokyo the same day after the group's success in court. “We are going to demand compensation from the government.”

A PSIA official said the decision was “out of blue.”

“If the decision is finalized, it will be difficult for us to grasp the activities of the group and that may cause security concerns for the public,” the official said.

The surveillance order on Aleph was not part of this case and remains in force.

No comments: