crime

Woman arrested for harboring cultist had 8 million yen in her possession

16 Comments

Akemi Saito, 49, the woman who turned herself in to police claiming to have sheltered Makoto Hirata, a former senior member of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, had 8 million yen in her possession at the time of her arrest, police have revealed.

During police questioning, Hirata allegedly told investigators that he was given 10 million yen in "escape funds" by a female former Aum executive in 1995. Police are currently investigating the possibility that the funds are connected, TBS reported.

Saito, a former nurse and Aum Shinrikyo cult member, turned herself in to police on Jan 10, claiming she had been with Hirata for nearly 17 years until he surrendered on New Year’s Eve.

Saito also claimed that she had changed her name each time the couple moved around the country on the run. According to police, Saito supported Hirata by working in a restaurant, a coffee shop, an osteopathic clinic and other places, while Hirata, 46, "never left the house."

Saito is suspected of harboring Hirata, who was wanted in connection with the abduction of a notary in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward in February of 1995. The notary was later killed by the cult after being injected with chemicals. Saito is thought to have lived with Hirata from June 2004 to Dec 31, 2011.

According to Saito's statement, Hirata first began to consider surrendering when he lost faith in cult leader Shoko Asahara after reports of his erratic behavior in court. However, Hirata was still wanted in connection with the attempted murder of the then chief of Japan's National Police Agency, Takaji Kunimatsu. Kunimatsu was shot several times near his home in Tokyo in March 1995.

As a result, the couple decided not to turn themselves in until New Year's Eve, when the March 2010 statute of limitations would cause the investigation to expire.

The cult's sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995 left 13 dead and thousands injured or sickened.

© Japan Today

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16 Comments
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49 year old woman possessing Y8M...what's so important? Amount sounds big due to Strong Yen (against $ or Euro) ?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Police are currently investigating the possibility that the funds are connected,

Two quick questions:

First, do the police really think Saito's 8 million is part of Hirata's 10 million after 17 years? If so, then Saito is a very careful shopper.

Second, even if the 8 million is part of Hirata's 10, so what? I believe religions can dupe... er.. request their followers to tithe. Churches then do with the money what they wish. Is there something illegal going on with the money?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Aum, or now Aleph is more than a religion, better call it a CULT and it is a very DANGEROUS cult, they have already proven themselves by killing many people, if they do have this underground network to keep on giving money to these criminals that are hiding from the Japanese police, well time to change the laws here in Japan and give them all the DEATH PENALTY. I was here in Japan already when they attacked the subways with SARIN gas and it was not fun to be scared all of the time, not knowing if that bag on the floor was just garbage or more potential sarin gas ready to kill us. Japan needs to change many laws, for one thing, how can Japanese run around hiding from the police and change their names every time?? Japan has no national ID system?? No Social Security numbering system? This is one big mistake on the Japanese side so fools here lucky enough to have Japanese nationality can continue to do this kind of crap??

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

'There's nothing usual about keeping eight million yen at home', says Ozawa.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Eight million!?!?!? I wish I had that much.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This arrest brought to you by the statute of limitations. You may well find yourself missing it in the future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

8 million yen is thick and heavy. I paid off a 6 million yen loan last year and it was a burden.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Hm, it sounds like the police want to make an arrest as the article states that the statue of limitations ran out. Maybe they are trying to figure out another crime that they can arrest those two on? I don't understand why they would bother turning themselves in if the statue of limitations ran out. Why not just come out of "hiding" or just not bother to hide anymore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If she had changed her name she would not want to put the money in the bank. If she worked for 17 years, then it is quite a reasonable amount to save. Let her keep it. She'll need it in old age.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

ElbudoMexicano:

" Aum, or now Aleph is more than a religion, better call it a CULT and it is a very DANGEROUS cult, "

You will find it hard to explain your imagined difference between a "cult" and a "religion". If (lets hope it never happens) Aleph ever reaches a billion members, we would all be calling it a "religion", although nothing changed except the size.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

we would all be calling it a "religion", although nothing changed except the size.

Well, that's it right there. A cult has negligible following and thus not established. Religions typically are cults which have morphed to allow greater acceptance. The greater acceptance itself is a great transformation you are blissfully willing to look over.

It's kind of the difference between monopoly money and real money. Monopoly money has currency within the game, but not much acceptance outside whereas real money allows you liquidity and facilitates commerce in real life.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

WilyV@thanks for enlightening us all on the size difference between a real religion and your common everyday doomsday provoking terrorists that make up Aum and Aleph, now go out and ask your average Tanaka San if they would allow Aum members to move in next door?? Have Aum kids attend the same school with their kids??

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

the couple decided not to turn themselves in until New Year’s Eve, when the March 2010 statute of limitations would cause the investigation to expire. .....................

pretty slick. The dude should consider a poltical career .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ElbudoMexicano, pretty sure you've been in Japan long enough to understand the juminhyo system. Unless you start with forged documents, you can't just change your name at will. And a SlaveSerial Number system is most reprehensible! The new driver's licence also has an IC chip with you essential info. Sadly, all the new technology is being used to create a surveillance state as in UK. 1984, anyone?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The greater acceptance itself is a great transformation you are blissfully willing to look over.

Its not part of the official definition for good reason. Most cultists don't hurt anyone. But Aum is specifically known for targeted murders and sarin gas attacks. And that is why its called a cult more than other reason. Meanwhile, some people call Islam a cult despite its wide acceptance, and the reason is because the only thing they know about Islam is that some terrorists are Muslim.

WilliB hit the nail on the head. Use of the terms is selective.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What is the difference between a religion and a cult? I thought they were the same thing?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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