Intelligence agency inspects 22 AUM cult-related facilities

Officials from the Justice Ministry's Public Security Intelligence Agency inspected 22 facilities related to the AUM Shinrikyo cult across Japan on Friday, the first such nationwide inspections since November 2012.

Based on the outcome of the inspections and other factors, the agency will decide whether to extend its surveillance of Aleph, renamed from AUM Shinrikyo in 2000, and AUM's splinter group Hikari no Wa founded in 2007 for a fifth time by the Jan. 31 deadline.

The inspections, based on a law regulating groups that have committed random mass killings, involved about 270 officials at 17 Aleph and five Hikari no Wa facilities.

AUM founder Shoko Asahara and a dozen senior members are on death row for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes.

The number of Aleph followers stood at around 1,450 as of the end of July, while that of Hikari no Wa, launched by former AUM spokesman Fumihiro Joyu, was about 200, according to the agency which suspects the two groups are still under the influence of Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto.