Aum Shinrikyo is becoming increasingly active and establishing new facilities in the Tokyo area with profits from its lucrative computer business, the Public Security Investigation Agency warned Monday.
The agency, under the Justice Ministry, still considers the sect its biggest target for surveillance. An independent commission turned down the agency’s request for outlawing Aum under the Antisubversive Activities Law in January 1997.
In announcing the findings of its latest investigation, the agency said Aum “warrants continuous rigorous surveillance.” According to the report, Aum has about 1,500 active members, including at least 500 live-in followers, across Japan. The agency’s membership estimate did not change from the last report in February.
But recently, the cult has concentrated many of its housing facilities in Tokyo’s Adachi and Katsushika wards, apparently to let followers live near founder Shoko Asahara, the agency said. Asahara is detained at Kosuge Prison in Katsushika Ward.
Aum’s major departments including legal affairs and public relations have been moved to a three-story building in Adachi Ward, the agency said.
In the last six months or so, Aum has acquired five large facilities in the Tokyo metropolitan area, according to the report. Among them is a two-story building in Sanwa, Ibaraki Prefecture, that boasts 770 sq. meters of floor space, the agency said. Although the building is apparently being used as a printing factory, it could be used for training, the agency warned.
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