Six Aum Shinrikyo members have been arrested in two separate instances in Okayama and Aichi prefectures, police said Wednesday.
Three cultists were arrested on suspicion of giving false information when renting an apartment in Okayama Prefecture, while the other three were apprehended for allegedly claiming a yoga technique could clear up an Aichi Prefecture man’s skin problems. Police say the three were illegally posing as licensed medical practitioners.
Okayama Prefectural Police officials said they also began searching about 10 facilities linked to the cult in three prefectures.
Okayama police suspect Atsushi Sumi, 30, Hiroki Ishikawa, 35, and Keiko Yoshida, 48, of renting a condominium under false pretenses in March by claiming they would use the condo for housing but instead actually using it as an Aum facility.
They have denied the allegation, according to police.
Aichi Prefectural Police meanwhile arrested Izumi Takahashi, 32, Masayuki Hirata, 48, and Tomomi Ishihara, 33, for allegedly violating the Medical Practitioners Law.
They are suspected of providing medical treatment, in the guise of yoga techniques, that could be harmful unless administered by a professional to a man they met through an Internet dating site.
They allegedly told the man they could help cure his atopic dermatitis and repeatedly made him come to their facility, drink 2 liters of salt water and immediately vomit.
Hirata had a doctor’s license and once served as head of an Aum-affiliated medical clinic; the license was revoked in 1998. The three suspects told the man that everything was all right because one of them was a former doctor.
The man became a cult member in July but left in November and went to police for advice. He paid 10,000 yen for the services, investigators said.
The three initially hid the fact that they were Aum members to solicit him for the cult, police said, adding that they raided four facilities related to Aum, including one in Nagoya.
Investigators say the cult is increasingly turning to yoga classes and Internet matchmaking sites to find potential recruits.
Police have recently been beefing up investigations against the sect across the country.
On Monday, Osaka Prefectural Police arrested three Aum members on suspicion of swindling 500,000 yen worth of goods last year from a mentally ill man and searched several locations, including an Aum facility in Nishinari Ward, Osaka.
Aum, whose members were behind a rash of heinous crimes from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, changed its name to Aleph in 2001.
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