• Kyodo

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A successor group to the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult that killed 13 Tokyo commuters and poisoned many others with sarin gas in 1995 has set up a new operating base in Hokkaido, intelligence officials said Thursday.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency inspected the facility of Aleph in Sapporo’s Shiroishi Ward the same day under a law governing groups that have committed mass murder.

The agency suspects the group will use the facility, believed to be the largest of its kind, to hold seminars or other meetings with believers.

No new Aleph facilities have been confirmed for several years, the agency said, adding the Sapporo facility would be its 33rd.

Aum renamed itself Aleph in 2000. Along with the other successor group, Hikarinowa, or the Circle of Rainbow Light, Aleph remains under surveillance by Japan’s security services.

The revelation of the facility comes in the same week as a former member of Aum Shinrikyo pleaded not guilty Monday in his trial appealing the life sentence he received for his role in the group’s attack on March 20, 1995 on the Tokyo subway system.

Katsuya Takahashi, 58, was sentenced to life in prison by the Tokyo District Court in April 2015 after being convicted of murder and other charges over his role as a driver for one of the cult members who released the deadly poison in subway cars.

As well as killing 13 people, the attack also left more than 6,000 injured.

Information from AFP-JIJI added

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