Use of antisubversive law facing uncertainty

The Public Security Commission will probably not outlaw Aum Shinrikyo under the Antisubversive Activities Law despite a request from the Justice Ministry’s Public Security Investigation Agency, sources close to the commission said Jan. 13. About half of the commission members reportedly oppose applying the 1952 law because they doubt Aum poses a future threat to society.On Jan. 13, the independent commission met and confirmed that it would proceed in its procedures and not take action against Aum, the sources said. The commission hopes to make a final decision by the end of this month, the sources said.In the first attempt to apply the controversial law to an organization, the Public Security Investigation Agency held six hearings on the cult through June and in July submitted a request to the commission calling for the law to be applied. The agency said Aum wants to establish a “despotism” for its founder, Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto. If applied, the law would ban all activities by and for a group, and violators would face a penalty of up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of 50,000 yen.The agency has claimed that although Asahara is in custody and the cult’s top leaders are now standing trial in connection with a number of serious crimes, the cult remains dangerous. The agency claimed that despite Aum’s bankruptcy and despite an order to disband based on the Religious Corporation Law, the cult has begun new activities. The agency also argued that it would be impossible to restrict the cult’s activities without applying the law.Lawyers representing Aum, on the other hand, have argued there is not enough reason for the claim that Aum poses clear danger to society. They also claim the law itself is unconstitutional.