As noted, some cult apologists came to the defense of Aum Shinrikyo - after its nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system(!)
Their reported aim was "to warn that the Japanese police were threatening the group's religious freedom."
Wiser minds later pointed out that Japanese authorities had actually been "negligent and deferential" precisely because of Aum's status as a New Religious Movement.
Reliable reports since 1995 have shown that Japanese authorities were actually not just overly cautious, but negligent and deferential, if not protective, regarding criminal activities by Aum, because of its status as an NRM. ''Some observers wonder what took the Japanese authorities so long to take decisive action. It seems apparent that enough serious concerns had been raised about various Aum activities to warrant a more serious police inquiry prior to the subway gas attack'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 321). The group can only be described as extremely violent and murderous. ''Thirty-three Aum followers are believed to have been killed between ...1988 and ...1995...Another twenty-one followers have been reported missing [and presumed dead]'' (Mullins, 1997, p. 320). Among non-members, there have been 24 murder victims. One triple murder case in 1989 and another poison gas attack in 1994 which killed seven have been committed by the group, as well as less serious crimes which the police was not too eager to investigate (Beit-Hallahmi, 1998; Haworth, 1995; Mullins, 1997). So it is safe to conclude that religious freedom was not the issue in this case. Nor is it likely, as some Aum apologists among NRM scholars have claimed, that this lethal record (77 deaths on numerous occasions over seven years) and other non-lethal criminal activities were the deeds of a few rogue leaders. Numerous individuals must have been involved in, and numerous others aware of, these activities.
In January, 2000, Japan's Public Security Examination Commission granted permission that allowed authorities to put Aum Shinrikyo under surveillance:
The Aum Supreme Truth cult was officially put under the scrutiny of public security authorities Tuesday after the surveillance was approved in record time the day before.
The surveillance was approved under a law to regulate dangerous organizations.
The Public Security Examination Commission took only about a month to grant the permission after the Public Security Investigation Agency made the request.
The commission's official decision became effective Monday in what was considered an unprecedented speeding up of procedures.
On Jan. 31, 1997, the commission turned down a request to dissolve the cult based on the Antisubversive Activities Law, a decision that a former Cabinet minister described as "extremely regrettable."
After that the cult revitalized its activities and clashed with local residents in many places across the nation. The result was the enactment of two anti-Aum laws and the commission's decision Monday.
Following is a listing of articles that deal specifically with Japan's surveillance of Aum Shinrikyo. For our complete news archive on Aum Shinrikyo, see Religion News Blog's Aum Shinrikyo News Tracker.
- Japanese police want Aum sect placed under surveillance, Dec. 27, 1999
- Agency requests Aum be put under its watch, Dec. 27, 1999
- Cult makes case against new surveillance law, Jan. 1, 2000
- Agency gets OK to monitor Aum, Jan. 29, 2000
- Japan to put doomsday cult under surveillance, Jan. 31, 2000
- Aum put under surveillance, Feb. 2, 2000
- Security panel starts Aum surveillance, Feb. 1, 2000
- AUM begins life in a straitjacket, Feb. 1, 2000
- Aum placed under surveillance, Feb. 1, 2000
- Surveillance is unnecessary as cult poses no danger, Aum leader claims, Jun. 16, 2000
- Aum's request to end surveillance is rejected, Jun. 14, 2001
- Still Dangerous: Government to extend Aum surveillance 3 years, Oct. 16, 2002
- Aum files for end to surveillance, Nov. 7, 2002
- Extended surveillance on Aum sought, Nov. 23, 2002
- Security agency requests Aum surveillance extension, Dec. 2, 2002
- Aum faces another three years' watch, Dec. 2, 2002
- Japan Security Agency Wants No Let-Up on Aum Cult, Dec. 2, 2002
- AUM faces another 3 years under surveillance, Dec. 2, 2002
- Joyu slams planned extension of AUM watch, Dec. 9, 2002
- AUM voice heard over end of gov't surveillance, Dec. 26, 2002
- Aum asks for end to surveillance, Jan. 10, 2003
- Surveillance of Aum to continue, Jan. 19, 2003
- AUM surveillance to continue for 3 more years, Jan. 23, 2003
- Joyu attacks extension of Aum surveillance, Jan. 24, 2003
- Aum must prove itself 'harmless', Feb. 8, 2003
- Aum kept under watch-and at arm's length, Feb. 22, 2003
- Japanese doomsday cult still a threat to society, government says, Apr. 16, 2004
- Court Rejects AUM Cult's Request to Stop Surveillance, Oct. 29, 2004
- LDP Backs Extension of Surveillance Law on AUM Shinrikyo, Nov. 10, 2004
- Aum said still dangerous, to be kept under tight watch, Nov. 11, 2004
- Justice Minister Backs Extension of AUM Surveillance Law, Nov. 11, 2004
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