Police raid more Setsuri cult facilities

Toyko, Japan - Chiba police raided Setsuri cult facilities for the second day Friday, searching the home of the former president of a dissolved printing firm in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on suspicion of abetting an immigrations law violation.

Friday's move follows the raids Thursday on a total of eight locations, including the cult's facilities in the city of Chiba, Chiba Prefecture, on suspicion that a senior cult member -- a South Korean woman --has illegally obtained her residency status in Japan for missionary work.

Setsuri, or Providence, was established in South Korea and has been active in Japan since around 1987. Its founder, Jung Myung Seok, 61, is alleged to have sexually assaulted several female members.

The 44-year-old South Korean woman is believed to be the founder's close aide and is suspected of arranging the women who were allegedly abused for him.

The 73-year-old former president is alleged to have conspired with a 55-year-old company president in the city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in having documents filed with the authorities in March 2000 to hire the woman for planning work at the company, enabling her to work as a missionary, investigators said.

Lawyers working against the cult filed criminal complaints with the authorities last August against the South Korean woman for allegedly violating the immigrations law and against the two company executives for allegedly abetting her crime.

The lawyers say the printing company in Yokohama had business dealings with a printing and mail-order company run by the president, who lived in Kanazawa.

The Yokohama company was dissolved last March shortly after the lawyers asked the other company in writing to explain its relationships with the Setsuri cult, according to the lawyers. "We suspect there may have been a destruction of evidence" in the move, one of the lawyers said.

The printing and mail-order company, located in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, is listed on the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It signed an official partnership with the Japanese Olympic Committee in February 2003.

The South Korean woman left Japan for South Korea last July.

There are reportedly more than 2,000 followers of the cult in Japan. The cult's founder is now on the international wanted list for his alleged sexual abuse of female followers.