• Kyodo


Gifu Prefectural Police began an investigation Thursday into a group whose members dress completely in white on suspicion of violating the traffic law.

The group, with about 40 members, has been blocking a forest road with about 15 vehicles for almost a week.

“Their attire and behavior is odd and there is great unease among local residents,” Hidehiko Sato, chief of the National Police Agency, said at a news conference in Tokyo. “It is similar to the initial stage of Aum Shinrikyo.”

Members of the Aum cult have been found guilty of numerous serious crimes, including the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack, which killed 12 and injured over 5,000.

The Pana Wave Laboratory group has its members wear white from head to toe, claiming the outfits protect them from electromagnetic waves. It believes the waves pose a danger to nature and the human body.

About 300 Gifu officers are involved in the investigation, police said.

Earlier in the day, the NPA instructed police across the country to crack down on illegal acts and strengthen probes into the group.

The mayors of the towns of Hachiman and Yamato in Gifu Prefecture asked the group Wednesday to leave the area because it is restricting the passage of vehicles, causing trouble for local residents. The group said it would leave the area by Sunday.

The group members moved to the forest road from the neighboring village of Izumi, Fukui Prefecture, last Friday and said they are on their way to Yamanashi Prefecture.