Guru's streaker past exposed as cult wins defamation case against tabloid mag

Tokyo, Japan - Panawave, a cult whose members dress entirely in white and deck out any areas they travel in white sheets, has won a Tokyo District Court battle against weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun for defamation.

Chino Shohokai, the parent organization of the Panawave cult, and Yuko Chino, its leader, were awarded 2 million yen by the court after it ruled that Shukan Bunshun had defamed them is May 15 2003 and June 16 2003 editions.

Bunshun ran stories entitled "Female Guru Yuko Chino's Streaker Past" and "Investigation Development - White-Clothed Cult Was to Blame for Collapsing Power Tower."

"It is true that Chino had a past as a streaker, but there were no compelling reasons to believe the cult had anything to do with the collapse of an electric powerline tower in Kagawa Prefecture in February 1998," Presiding Judge Masami Ichikawa said as he handed down the ruling.

Bunshun officials were not happy with the ruling.

"We have only reported what investigative authorities were saying at the time and do not believe we have acted inappropriately," a spokesman for the weekly said. "The court's decision that it couldn't have happened because the case was not pursued later is very difficult to accept."

Panawave attracted enormous attention in the spring of 2003 as its procession moved through central Japan, covering areas completely in white cloth as it crawled along.