BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 13 April, 2001, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Japan warns of cult internet boom
Rescue workers
Thousands were hurt in the Sarin gas attack
Doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which was behind the 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, is growing and remains a threat, according to the Japanese justice ministry.

In the latest annual review of the cult, the ministry said it was reasserting its influence via the internet.

The ministry said Aum Shinrikyo now had about 650 leaders and teachers and a further 1,000 followers in Japan and elsewhere, and uses the internet and video conferencing to stay in touch.

Shoko Asahara remains the cult's guiding figure
Cult leader Shoko Asahara is in jail
The group hit the headlines in 1995 after releasing deadly Sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway, killing 12 people and injuring thousands of others.

The cult, which changed its name last year to Aleph - the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet - insists it is now a benign religious group.

Dangerous

Noting that it had changed its name and apologised for the gas attack, the report said however that the organisation's "deceptive nature" remained unchanged.

"The sect attempts to conceal its organisational management by using systems such as the internet and video conferencing to relay its orders and manage and teach its members", the French news agency AFP quoted the Justice Minister, Masahiko Komura, as saying.

The report concluded that the group's "dangerous nature has not changed", even though no poisonous substances or ingredients have been found in their facilities.

It noted that Aleph was expanding its computer-related business and making profits from other companies involved in publicising the teachings of its jailed leader, Shoko Asahara.

Since the jailing of Asahara - a half-blind, charismatic man whose real name is Chizo Matsumoto - daily control of the cult has fallen to Fumihiro Joyu, the former head of Aum's operations in Moscow.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

06 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aum member jailed for murder
28 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Seventh Japan cult killer to hang
20 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cult apologises for death gas attack
01 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's computers hit by cult fears
26 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cult revival
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories