Jul 15, 2018

Family feud rises over remains of executed Aum Shinrikyo guru

July 9, 2018

A family dispute is brewing and concerns about renewed cult activities are growing over the cremated remains of Chizuo Matsumoto, the Aum Shinrikyo founder and convicted mass murderer who was executed on July 6.

The body of Matsumoto, who went by the name of Shoko Asahara when he masterminded a series of crimes by his followers, including the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo, was cremated in the capital on the morning of July 9.

Just before he was hanged at the Tokyo Detention House, Matsumoto requested that his remains be given to his fourth daughter, who is estranged from the cult and her family members, according to sources.

However, Matsumoto’s widow and some of his other children jointly submitted a formal letter to the Justice Ministry on July 7, requesting that they be given custody of the remains. They argued that it was “impossible” for Matsumoto “to name a particular person as a recipient (of the remains), given his mental condition.”

Meanwhile, the Public Security Intelligence Agency, an external bureau of the Justice Ministry, fears the remaining bones could end up becoming “sacred” objects of worship among cultists who never abandoned their faith in Matsumoto, despite his multiple convictions over crimes that killed 27 people in total and sickened thousands in the 1980s and 1990s.

On July 9, Taro Takimoto, attorney of the fourth daughter, said on his blog that the daughter gave the go-ahead for the cremation of her father’s body, but she “will not immediately accept the remains.”

The ministry intends to fulfill Matsumoto’s request about his remains, but it will store them at the Tokyo Detention House for the time being, taking the fourth daughter’s intentions into account.

In November 2017, the daughter held a news conference to announce she had abandoned her faith in Aum Shinrikyo and severed all ties to her family and the cult’s succeeding groups.

She also said she took legal action to prevent her parents from receiving her assets upon her death.

The cult renamed itself Aleph in 2000 and has been under surveillance by the Public Security Intelligence Agency. Aleph itself has split up.

For the release of the body of an executed prisoner, priority is given to the wishes of the death-row inmate. But if the person named refuses to accept the body, the detention house will seek family members to receive the body, starting with the spouse, then the children and the parents.

The detention house will cremate the body on the request of the recipient before the handover.


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