The Metropolitan Police Department turned over to prosecutors Wednesday their case against three men linked to the Pana Wave Laboratory group who are suspected of falsifying information on vehicle registration papers.
The cultlike Pana Wave made headlines during the Golden Week holidays spanning late April to early May when its members, dressed all in white, drove around in several central prefectures in a convoy of white vehicles. They occasionally squatted on sections of mountain roads, claiming they were trying to protect their leader, Yuko Chino, 69, from electromagnetic waves.
The group is an offshoot of the Chino Shoho movement, which was founded by Chino.
The three men are a 50-year-old senior member of Chino Shoho, a 39-year-old man from the western Tokyo suburb of Musashino who is a former senior member, and a 55-year-old man residing in Okayama Prefecture.
According to police, the Musashino man is the only one denying the allegations.
An investigation found that the three men conspired to purchase three station wagons under the Okayama man’s name between June and September 1998 that would be used by Chino Shoho and Pana Wave Laboratory. The Okayama man was registered as the owner with the local transport bureau.
Several locations linked to Pana Wave were searched by police in connection with the allegations on May 14.
Police said they suspect the group first tried to purchase the vehicles in the name of an affiliated publishing firm. However, because the firm had already bought several cars, it was difficult to secure a fresh auto loan.
Also, the parking lot at Pana Wave’s headquarters in Fukui Prefecture was almost full, prompting the suspects to register individuals as the owners, they said.
Investigators have confirmed that Chino Shoho currently has some 1,000 members and income of around 2.48 billion yen between September 1993 and last month, including donations. While most of the contributions were in the 5,000 yen to 100,000 yen range, one woman contributed 80 million yen to the group during this time, they added.
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