Extension sought for Aum watch

The Justice Ministry’s Public Security Investigation Agency will ask the Public Security Examination CommisEsion for permission to keep Aum Shinrikyo under surveilElance for another three years, sources said Monday.

The agency has inspected 85 Aum facilities in 16 prefecEtures since January 2000, monitoring the group’s activities under an anti-Aum law.

The law, under which the cult is obliged to report the names of its members and details of its assets to security authorities, gives the commission final say over whether the group is a danger to the public and whether ongoing surveilElance is necessary.

The agency has decided that the inspection should continEue because Aum founder Shoko Asahara, 47, currently standing trial for his role in crimes including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, still holds influence over Aum members, the sources said.