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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Japan cult guru 'close to death'
Members of white costume cult drive their vans decorated with spiral patterned stickers
The cult is on the move again

The alleged leader of a mysterious Japanese cult has said that she will die in the next few days.

The woman, who claimed to be Yuko Chino, the guru of the Pana Wave Laboratory, told Fuji TV that she would lose her fight with cancer in four to five days.

Members of her group have threatened to take revenge for her death with the extermination "of all humankind".

Her group attracted attention last week when it refused to move its caravan of vehicles from a mountain road in central Japan.

It was reported on Tuesday to now be heading for Oizumi in central Yamanashi prefecture from its previous base in Gifu prefecture.

The cult, whose members are clad entirely in white, is reported to believe that the world will be devastated on 15 May by natural disasters, caused by a reversal of the magnetic pole.

They reportedly say that Yuko Chino is being killed with electromagnetic waves sent out by communists.

The woman told Fuji TV: "I cannot live in one place because of extremists."

Fuji TV's reporter - whom Jiji Press reported had to remove his trouser belt and other metal objects, wear a white robe and wrap his equipment in white cloths before he was granted an interview - said the woman did not appear seriously ill.

The journalist said that his interviewee spent most of their conversation talking about a seal, known as Tama-chan, who sparked a media frenzy earlier this year after he got lost in a polluted Yokohama river.

The French news agency AFP reported that a group linked to the cult failed in its attempt to catch and transport the animal to a makeshift pool at a dome-like building owned by Pana Wave in the village of Oizumi, where the group is now said to be heading.

Sadakazu Tanigaki, chief of the national public safety commission, said Pana Wave was not powerful enough yet to cause damage to society at large but vowed to "watch them from a preventive viewpoint".

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