Five former followers of the Honohana Sampogyo religious sect Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against its guru, Hogen Fukunaga, and 12 other cult executives, their lawyers said. The former followers filed the suit because fraud allegedly committed by the sect has become a serious social issue and needs to be stopped before more people are victimized, their lawyers said. A total of 1,107 people from across the nation, including the five who filed the complaint, have already filed damages suits against the group. The suits seek a total of 5.389 billion yen. According to Tuesday’s complaint to the Metropolitan Police Department, the five, all women in their 40s and 50s from Tokyo, accuse Fukunaga and the others of falsely diagnosing serious ailments such as cancer after “reading” the soles of their feet on different occasions from December 1994 to August 1996. The five claim they were duped into paying a total of 24 million yen as participation fees to the special “training” sessions, which the group said would ward off the illnesses. The money also included payments for what the sect claimed was a holy hanging scroll, which cost 3.33 million yen, as a token of completing the training session and for a revelation called “heaven’s voice” that came to Fukunaga. Honohana Sanpogyo’s foot diagnosticians use a manual that instructs them to instill fear in people by claiming that they may commit suicide or suffer cancer if they do not take the sect’s training sessions. It costs an average of 2.25 million yen to join such sessions. Believers are told that soles provide “an insight into physical conditions, state of mind, future well-being and the lives of ancestors.” They are urged to “take one’s head off,” or abandon their ego, through the sessions, in order to solve all their problems.

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