Japanese Justice Ministry Slaps Measures on Group Linked to Aum

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The building that houses the Public Security Intelligence Agency is seen in May 2021

The Justice Ministry’s Public Security Examination Commission has taken regulatory action against Aleph, a group linked to the Aum Supreme Truth cult, over its asset reporting.

The measures prohibit Aleph from receiving donations and using their land and most of their buildings for six months.

At a press conference on Monday, the commission’s chairman Makoto Kaiami said, “We’ve concluded that it is necessary to take action to prevent a recurrence of an indiscriminate act of mass murder.”

It is the first time such measures have been implemented since the enactment in 1999 of a law aimed at regulating such groups.

“We reached a decision after carefully examining the need and appropriateness of the disposition,” Kaiami said.

Among Aleph’s about 20 facilities nationwide, it will be prevented from using all four of the facilities it uses for seminars to solicit new followers and other purposes, and some of its nine lodging facilities for followers.

In January, the Justice Ministry’s Public Security Intelligence Agency asked the commission to take measures against Aleph as the group failed to report some of its assets.

The commission scheduled a hearing in February, but the Aleph side did not show up. The group also failed to provide statements and other documents sought by the commission.

If Aleph does not abide by the regulatory measures, the group faces a fine of up to ¥1 million or its leadership faces up to two years in prison.

The agency intends to ensure the effectiveness of the disposition in close cooperation with police authorities. It plans to post ban notices on target facilities, and if the notices are removed or damaged, it will issue fines of up to ¥500,000.

In February, Aleph filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against the central government, demanding the agency not take any regulatory measures.

Aleph claims the assets identified by the commission are those of organizations not linked to the group, according to sources.