KYOTO – Police on Monday raided facilities of the main successor group to doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo in connection with an alleged case of fraud involving a condominium lease, investigators said.
The facilities of the group, known as Aleph, are in Kyoto’s Minami Ward and are believed to have been used for training and other purposes.
Aum Shinrikyo was responsible for the 1995 sarin attack on Tokyo’s subway system that killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000. The cult, led by guru Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, renamed itself Aleph in 2000.
According to the Public Security Intelligence Agency, Aleph has about 1,500 followers and has seen an increase in young members in recent years.
In some cases, Aleph has been luring young followers without disclosing that it is a religious group or informing them of its links to Aum and its criminal history, according to police officials.
Aleph has also set up yoga classes as a means to encourage potential followers to join, they said.
The cult has two other successors, Hikari no Wa (Circle of Rainbow Light) and an offshoot of Aleph.
In November, the police searched facilities used by Aleph in Sapporo and Fukuoka on suspicion that the group swindled a young woman out of tens of thousands of yen in membership fees without having her fill out the legally required paperwork.
Out of Aleph’s followers, about 300 live in Hokkaido, which has the largest concentration of members among the 47 prefectures.
A four-story building the police searched in Sapporo’s Shiroishi Ward is thought to be its largest facility.