The Japanese Panawave group that believed the end of the world was due May 15 when Planet X would pass close to the Earth, has now revised the date and says this will occur on Thursday, May 22. The 1,200 members of the group all dress in white and drape trees and buildings in white sheets because they believe that white protects them from the dangerous electromagnetic waves that have affected the health of their leader, 69-year-old Yuko Cino, who claims to have terminal cancer. They’ve fled to the mountains, blocking roads with their long convoys of white vans.

While we may scoff at them here, they remind the Japanese of another doomsday group, the Aum Supreme Truth cult, that killed 12 people by releasing sarin gas in the Tokyo subway in 1995. Taxi driver Tatsuhiko Sato speaks for many Japanese when he says, “What Panawave say has no basis in reality so you can only call them a cult. It reminds me of Aum. They seem only one step away from turning into a terrorist group.”

Planet X may not be a reality, but sometimes it really is doomsday.

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