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Hikari no Wa | Circle of Rainbow Light

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Former Cult Spokeman and Leader Forms New Group

Note: This group has been referred to in English-language media reports as 'Circle of Light' or 'Circle of Rainbow Light.'

In March, 2007, the former spokesman for Aum Shinrikyo -- the Japanese cult known for its 1995 Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway -- formally left the group in order to start a new organization.

Fumihiro Joyu, ertswhile spokesman and later one of the leaders of Aum Shrinrikyo, has long claimed he wanted to distance himself from Shoko Asahara, the group's jailed guru.

It is now reported that Joyu has indeed formed a new group:

Followers of former AUM Shinrikyo spokesman Fumihiro Joyu reported to the Public Security Intelligence Agency on Monday that they have officially organized themselves into a new group consisting of 163 members, the agency said.

The group, called "Hikari no Wa" (Circle of Light), comprises 57 live-in followers, including Joyu and nine other executives, and 106 lay members, according to the agency.

The new group will also be subject to surveillance under the law just like AUM, which renamed itself Aleph in 2000, the agency said.

The group endorsed its rules at a meeting of executives Saturday and plans to hold a conference of all members on Tuesday, followed by a press conference by Joyu to explain the background and aims of the new group, it said.

Joyu, 44, said in March that he has left AUM along with members close to him to set up a new organization to signal his intention of completely discarding the influence of AUM founder Shoko Asahara.

AUM has been divided between Joyu's group which is critical of Asahara and another group supportive of him.

Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, is on death row for a series of crimes committed by AUM, including the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system that left 12 people dead.
- Source: Former Aum Shinrikyo cult spokesman sets up new group, Kyodo News Service, Japan, May 7, 2007

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This post was last updated: Jun. 15, 2012