Tomorrow the world may end, or so says Yuko Chino, the 69-year-old leader of the bizarre wandering “Japanese cult” clad in white called Pana Wave, reports England’s The Independent .
However, a purported “cult” making doomsday predictions is nothing new.
Many groups before the turn of the century seemed enveloped in a kind of “millennial madness,” making dire predictions of coming catastrophe and calamity.
If it were not quite planetary extinction, then at least there would be a kind of technological meltdown due to the “Y2K” computer glitch.
Never mind. Cult leaders and/or prophets of doom simply came up with some savvy spin to satisfy their followers and moved on, with the tragic exception of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments in Uganda.
Historically long-established groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses have learned that failed end times dates don’t mean “The End” for them and actually may increase baptisms, essentially becoming a useful recruitment tool.
People join up as if membership is the equivalent of an insurance policy against the event of Armageddon.
Yuko Chino seems to be carefully hedging her bets, by alternating between the claim that a lost seal in the news will somehow save humanity and/or that changes in outer space have already provided for a postponement, reports the New York Times.
One Pana Wave follower said, “I think it will be delayed till around May 22.”
But Japan’s Prime Minister just doesn’t get “why people believe in things said by such a group,” he asked plaintively.
This week police raided Pana Wave locations just to make sure the group wasn’t concealing anything dangerous, like Aum once did, reports Mainichi Daily News.
However, one Japanese resident observed, “They’re not dangerous.” And added his main worry was “their…cars blocking…traffic.”
Yuko Chino has become a familiar figure in Japan through a series of such traffic jams. Perhaps that is what she always wanted.
Many cult leaders do seem to crave attention.
Despite Chino’s claims that she is suffering from terminal cancer and at death’s door, it appears the woman in white will be around for the foreseeable future.
Though judging from the reactions reported from several Japanese towns, Pana Wave is not a popular potential neighbor.