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Japan Doomsday Cult Reorganizing

January 18, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ The doomsday cult behind the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subways said Tuesday it would reorganize itself and change its name.

Aum Shinri Kyo also admitted for the first time that its charismatic founder, Shoko Asahara, was involved in the gassing that killed 12 and sickened thousands, according to a statement sent to local media.

The 44-year-old former guru is on trial for masterminding the sarin gas attack. He also is being tried in the deaths of several cult members, his family, and a lawyer who had been investigating the cult.

In Tuesday’s statement, the cult said it was sorry for its crimes and that it intended to pay compensation to victims and their families.

``We deeply apologize to the victims and their families, while at the same time recognizing our own responsibility as members of the group,″ the statement said.

As part of its plans to ``drastically reorganize,″ the cult said it would change its name to ``Aleph,″ the statement said. The word is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

In addition, acting leader Tatsuko Muraoka will take over as head of the cult, the statement said.

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