• Kyodo

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The Yokohama District Court on Wednesday ordered Aum Shinrikyo to vacate its branch office in a Yokohama apartment building, supporting a request by the building’s management association.

Presiding Judge Susumu Suenaga handed down the eviction order, saying it was possible Aum members could again commit heinous crimes, making it difficult for the building’s other tenants to feel secure and live peacefully.

The Aum office, located in a building in Yokohama’s Naka Ward, is the home of 37-year-old Fumihiro Joyu, a senior member of the cult who was released from prison in Hiroshima last December after completing a three-year jail term for perjury.

Police have been put on alert around the building because right wing groups have staged periodic protests against the cult.

According to the order, Aum opened its Yokohama branch at the apartment around 1989.

The building management association filed a suit with the court in January 1996, seeking the eviction of the group, whose members allegedly recited sutra loudly late at night and slept on emergency stairways.

A number of Aum members have been convicted or are on trial in serious criminal cases, including the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.

In its suit, the building management association said the cult had not changed its behavior, despite the arrests and convictions of many followers, and that those living in the building still feel anxiety and fear toward the group.

Aum said it no longer poses a danger as it has apologized for serious crimes committed by its members and is compensating victims of those cases.

The cult, which now calls itself Aleph, claimed that building residents were not being objective in their feelings about the group.

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