Get off at Nishi Ogikubo Station (Suginami-ku, Tokyo) on the JR Chuo and Sobu lines and walk for less than three minutes. After turning into an alleyway along a shopping street dotted with trendy restaurants, the building comes into view.
At first glance, the building looks like an ordinary apartment building, but as you get closer, you will notice numerous security cameras and a sign that says “No Entry. This is the dojo of Aleph, the successor organization to Aum Shinrikyo.
In mid-October, the quiet, upscale residential area where the dojo is located was in an uproar. A resident of the neighborhood said.
A resident of the neighborhood said, “Because of the Aleph organization, there are always security guards wearing armbands from the Public Security Intelligence Agency hanging around this area, which makes the people living nearby feel safe. But the other day, a bunch of guys in suits walked into the apartment all at once. Because of the location, I was worried that something had been done by Aleph.
When we went to the site, we learned that it was an on-site inspection by the Public Security Intelligence Agency of a total of 32 Aum Shinrikyo-related facilities in 15 prefectures. According to the agency’s website, these on-site inspections have been conducted a total of 536 times.
The affiliated facility is now a residence for its followers, and a portrait of Shoko Asahara still hangs in the facility. In fact, in recent years, Aleph has been chronically short of money, and since September 21, gifts of money and goods have also been prohibited under a recurrence prevention measure. The dojo in Nishiogikubo is also rented, not owned.
According to the Public Security Intelligence Agency, the assets of the three successor groups to Aum, which include Aleph, Hikari no Wa, and Yamada and others, have decreased from approximately 1,291 million yen in 1919 to approximately 216 million yen in 2010.
In recent years, there have been no notable problems between Aleph and its neighbors. However, there have been serious disputes in the past. A member of the shopping district union revealed, “When the dojo was built, it was called ‘Dojo’.
The dojo was built around 2000. The residents were concerned, and Suginami Ward installed cameras to monitor their movements. However, the ward lost a court case with the cult and the cameras were removed. Two or three years later, after a shooting incident in which bullets were fired into the facility, we, the shopping district, installed security cameras ourselves. We have been taking countermeasures while greatly increasing the number of cameras.
It will soon be 30 years since the sarin gas attack on the subway, an unprecedented terrorist attack. Even now, people who appear to be believers can be seen entering and leaving the dojo. The anxiety of nearby residents is unlikely to subside in the future.
From the November 10 and 17, 2023 issues of FRIDAY