College defends rejection of Asahara’s daughter

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Wako University told the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday that it denied enrollment to a daughter of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara earlier this year not because of who she is but because it believed she still had strong ties to the cult.

In a written statement submitted to the court, the university said the 21-year-old third daughter of Asahara might have faced harassment on campus, but the school “would not be able to fulfill our responsibility to protect her and to maintain an appropriate learning environment for the other students.”

The woman had been considered a successor to Asahara during Aum’s heyday, before he and several other key cultists were sentenced to hang or handed long prison terms for various crimes, including the 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo’s subway system.

The four-year private liberal arts college in Machida, western Tokyo, accepted the woman’s enrollment in February after she passed the entrance exam.

But it reversed its decision after learning who she was after she submitted enrollment documents.

The woman then sued the university.

When the case came to light last March, Wako University President Osamu Mihashi said she was unwelcome because her presence on campus might deprive other students of the opportunity to study in a calm environment.

Asahara, 49, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death in February by the Tokyo District Court for his role in masterminding Aum’s crimes.

Since 2003, the woman has been rejected from three universities, including Bunkyo University in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, after passing entrance exam requirements.