National

One year on, Aum founder's ashes still in detention house

JIJI

The ashes of Chizuo Matsumoto, who headed the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, still remain in the Tokyo Detention House one year after his execution for his involvement in a series of crimes committed by his group, including a deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995.

Saturday marks the first anniversary of the execution of Matsumoto, who went by the name of Shoko Asahara. His remains have yet to be retrieved by family members due to fears that successor groups of the cult that still worship him may deify them.

Just before his execution on July 6, 2018, Matsumoto said that his fourth daughter should take possession of his ashes, according to sources.

The daughter, who had severed ties with other members of the Matsumoto family and the cult, agreed to accept the remains on the grounds that they should not be handed over to Aum successor groups.

Concerned that a burial would create a mecca of sorts for people still worshipping Matsumoto, the daughter plans to scatter his ashes in the Pacific Ocean.

However, other members of the Matsumoto family demanded that his remains be handed over to his wife, saying that they do not believe he would designate a particular individual to collect his remains.

The wife is believed to have ties with Aleph, an Aum successor group. To avoid the dangers of such a group trying to snatch Matsumoto’s remains, the daughter has asked the Tokyo Detention House to keep them for the time being.

The daughter asked Tokyo Family Court to appoint her as the legal inheritor of his remains. Other Matsumoto family members followed suit.

Also kept at the detention house are the kurta religious clothes and headgear that Matsumoto wore during his arrest in May 1995, as well as books and other items given to him during his detention. These items are also expected to be handed over once negotiations by Matsumoto family members come to a conclusion.