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