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Monday, 31 January, 2000, 13:18 GMT
Stricter surveillance for Japanese cult

aum temple Members of the cult will be under greater scrutiny

The Japanese Government is to step up surveillance of the cult Aum Shrinrikyo following fears of a revival of the group responsible for a deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo.

The public security examination commission agreed on Monday to allow security authorities to put Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth Sect) under surveillance for up to three years.

The decision will take effect on Tuesday when the legislation is officially published.

The law will allow the regular inspection of cult facilities.

It will also require the cult to report to the authorities the names of its members and details of its assets.

Back in November, Japan's cabinet approved a bill restricting the activities of the cult.

Although the bill did not name Aum, it effectively targetted the cult, as it controlled "a group that carried out random mass murder in the past and its leaders at the time of the murder."

Terror Attack

Twelve people were killed and thousands more injured when Aum Shinrikyo members released the nerve gas sarin in Tokyo's subway system in 1995.

Shoko Asahara Shoko Asahara has been deposed as the cult's leader
Aum only recently acknowledged and apologised for the attack.

On Saturday it announced it would pay 120m yen ($1.1m) a year as compensation to the victims.

The money is to come from cult assets, money handed over to its bankruptcy administrators, and from profits from computer companies run by the sect.

Police say it earns about 7bn yen ($66m) a year from its discount computer chain stores.

Cult Kidnap

The cult was also in the news last week following the kidnapping of the son of former Aum cult leader Shoko Asahara.

Two cult members were arrested in connection with the abduction of the seven-year-old boy, who was found unharmed.

Police say a group of six people, including two daughters of Asahara, were behind the kidnapping.

'Power Struggle'

The motive was uncertain, but correspondents say it could be related to a power struggle within the cult.

The cult issued a statement earlier in January deposing Shoko Asahara as leader. They also stated publicly that he was probably involved.

Analysts say that this, and moves by the cult's new leaders to change its name to Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and to apologise for the gas attack, have angered some hardliners.

Mr Asahara has denied any involvement in the crimes committed by his followers

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See also:
26 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cult revival
18 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Aum cult blames leader for gas attack
01 Oct 98 |  World
Sarin uncovered
22 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Aum kidnap boy rescued
23 Oct 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cultist sentenced to death
25 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Japanese sect's nerve gas plant destroyed
02 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan targets Aum cult

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