Japanese police poised to seize cult members

Japanese police investigating last month's nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway appeared to be close to making arrests yesterday, as mysterious fumes were reported for the second time in two days in the city of Yokohama.

Investigators were preparing charges last night against the Aum Shinri Kyo religious group, widely believed to have manufactured the sarin gas which killed 12 commuters and injured 5,500 on 20 March. Yesterday 24 people were treated in Yokohama hospitals after a noxious smell was reported 200 metres from the site of a similar incident earlier in the week.

The fumes were reported in a department store opposite Yokohama's main station, where 700 people were affected by a strange smell on Wednesday. A group of schoolgirls complained of pain in their throats and eyes. "When I smelt it I started choking, and felt a pain in my eyes," said a young man who was with the girls. "It stung my nose and made me want to spit."

Within an hour the department store had been closed off, and those affected were taken to hospital, although none was expected to be detained. Police and firemen with breathing equipment searched the area, but last night no clues had been found to the nature of the fumes or their source.

At an emergency meeting in Tokyo, Yuko Sekiguchi, deputy general director of the National Police Agency, told regional chiefs to step up investigation of the recent terrorist incidents. "At home and abroad, people are voicing concern about Japan's domestic security," he said, in an unusually frank public statement.

"We must not shy away from our responsibility, but aim to solve the case as a whole. The investigation has reached a turning point: we have to tear down the thick walls surrounding the case and disclose the entire allegations."

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, police have identified seven members of Aum Shinri Kyo's so-called "science and technology ministry", believed to have synthesised sarin at the cult's laboratory on the slopes of Mount Fuji. The chief of the "ministry" has appeared frequently on television in the past few weeks to deny the cult's involvement in the gas attacks, claiming that tons of chemical ingredients recovered from Aum premises were for the manufacture of fertilisers and ceramics. The Aum guru, Shoko Asahara, has not been seen in public since before the sarin attack.

The sister of a man alleged to have been kidnapped by Aum appeared on television last night, describing her ordeal at the hands of the sect. Aiko Nishina, 62, joined the sect after being told that she would be able to make contact with the spirit of her dead husband. She donated 60m yen (£470,000) at the behest of senior members, including Mr Asahara. In return, she underwent initiations involving the drinking of a fluid, apparently a narcotic.

On 24 February she escaped from the group's Tokyo headquarters to the home of her brother, Kiyoshi Kariya. Three days later, Aum members visited Mr Kariya and an argument ensued when he refused to tell them where she was. On 27 February, he was seen being bundled into a van by unidentified men; he has not been seen since.

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried