Aum turns to bar for help against closed localities

Aum Shinrikyo followers, whose residency applications have been refused by municipalities nationwide, asked the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Tuesday to defend their human rights.

It is against the Constitution and the Residency Registration Law for local municipalities to reject such applications on religious grounds and is a grave violation of human rights, the cult said.

In its complaint, Aum points to the city of Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, which has refused the residency requests of two of cult founder Shoko Asahara’s offspring.

Besides Otawara, 20 municipalities in the prefectures of Ibaraki, Nagano, Saitama, Shiga, Tochigi, Tokyo and Yamanashi have turned down cultists’ applications for residency, according the Aum.

Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka were also accused of human rights violations in the complaint lodged with the bar federation.

The local governments have defended their refusals based on the public welfare of their communities. But “(the local municipalities) abuse the vague term of public welfare without sufficiently examining each follower’s actions and influence on their communities,” Aum Shinrikyo said.

The cult said it would file a complaint with the Tochigi Prefectural Bar Association later Tuesday.

The same day, the cult asked for the Metropolitan Police Department’s list of Aum members.

Aum also sent a written inquiry to Tokyo’s Adachi Ward Office asking how the municipality identified cult members and mailed the MPD a request not to release its list of followers to the ward, it said.

Adachi Ward, which is already home to living quarters and warehouses used by the cult, has declared it will not accept any more residency requests from Aum followers.