The government must respond to growing fears neighbors of Aum Shinrikyo facilities have and make efforts to restrict the cult’s activities, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Wednesday.

“There are requests from locals every day for the government to act to restrict the group’s activities. We must fully consider ways to tackle this problem,” the top government spokesman said.

Nonaka said the government is considering a new law to block the sect’s activities, but it is having difficulty formulating one. “It is extremely difficult to draw up a new law targeting Aum Shinrikyo. If we use the term ‘cult’ in new legislation to regulate the group, it would also provoke problems in modern society,” he said.

Nonaka said ministries and government agencies will study the issue. The government earlier applied to the Public Security Commission, an independent seven-member board, to disband the cult under the Antisubversive Activities Law, but its request was rejected in 1997.

Nonaka’s comments followed those made earlier in the day by Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda, who suggested at a news conference that the government make another attempt to invoke the law against Aum.

Police on Tuesday morning searched Aum-related facilities in Aichi, Nagano and Fukushima prefectures, as well as in Tokyo, in connection with a case in which a 39-
year-old male follower of the cult allegedly used forged documents to buy land without revealing Aum was involved in the deals.

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