NIIGATA – Two senior members of Aum Shinrikyo laid flowers at the sites where the bodies of an anti-Aum lawyer and his family were hidden after they were murdered by Aum members in 1989.
The cult’s public relations chief, Hiroshi Araki, and his deputy, Seiwa Ito, visited the town of Nadachi, Niigata Prefecture, and Uozu in neighboring Toyama Prefecture on Sunday to mourn lawyer Tsu-tsumi Sakamoto, 33, and his wife Satoko, 29.
The two later visited Omachi, Nagano Prefecture, where the body of the couple’s 1-year-old son, Tatsuhiko, was discovered.
They first visited the mountainous area in Uozu where Satoko’s body was found and then drove to Mount Okenashi in Nadachi, where they prayed silently for five minutes and laid bouquets at a memorial stone and tower dedicated to Tsutsumi.
The pair also laid at the Nadachi site a card written by Araki that said: “We truly apologize. We’ll never repeat our mistakes.”
Araki said at the site where Tsutsumi’s body was found that he was visiting the location to pray for the dead family as a representative of the cult.
“When we think of what we did in the past, we cannot help but accept whatever criticism comes,” Araki said. “But we decided that the first thing we had to do was to apologize for the deaths.”
Uozu locals placed obstacles on roads to Satoko’s memorial to protest the cult’s move to lay flowers, forcing the two to walk some 10 km to and from the stone.
The Sakamotos were murdered by senior Aum members at their Yokohama home in November 1989, and their bodies were found in September 1995 based on depositions by the culprits. Tsutsumi had been helping families of Aum members to pull their loved ones out of the cult.
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