Japan Eyeing Measures against Aum Cult Successor Group over Asset Reports

The government is eyeing measures against Aleph, the mainstream successor to the Aum Supreme Truth cult, over its asset reporting. The group reported assets totaling about ¥20 million as of last October, equivalent to just 1.5% of the ¥1.28 billion it reported in October 2019.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency is expected to shortly request the Public Security Examination Commission to take regulatory measures against Aleph, claiming the report it received — as required under the law controlling the organizations — is insufficient.

The agency, which surveils the group, issued a similar request once before but later withdrew it, and there have been no cases in which the commission has taken regulatory measures against the organization. If such steps were taken against Aleph, its use of facilities and solicitation of new members would be severely restricted.

Under the law, Aleph is obliged to provide details regarding its assets and members every three months to allow the agency to ascertain the group’s status, and whether it poses a danger to society.

However, from February 2020, the group did not report on assets obtained via its businesses and members, prompting the agency in October 2021 to request that the commission take regulatory action.

Later, however, the organization resumed its reports, and the agency withdrew its request in November 2021. According to officials, the group has continued to submit reports since.

Recently however, the agency began to consider taking action due to concerns that the group’s reports on its profit-making businesses were inadequate and that the organization had not complied with the agency’s instructions to improve its reporting.

After submitting a request, the commission would hear opinions from the group then draw up its conclusions in about a month, in principle. If the control measures are issued, the group could be banned from acquiring or renting new land or buildings; using its land or buildings, except for residential use; recruiting new members or interfering with the withdrawal of members; and accepting donations. If the organization’s operators refuse to comply with the measures, they could be subject to such penalties as imprisonment for up to two years.

In November 2020, Aleph was ordered to pay over ¥1 billion compensation in a lawsuit filed by an organization set up to support the victims of Aum cult that attempts to win compensation for people affected by the group.

However, the compensation payment has been delayed. The agency believes Aleph’s reluctance to provide sufficient details is based on a desire to “conceal its assets” to avoid paying the compensation.

According to the agency, Aleph claims that business-derived assets have nothing to do with the group and it is thus not legally obliged to provide such reports.