A Liberal Democratic Party project team plans to submit a bill to create a new law that would provide financial relief in the form of a ‘solatium‘ for people who are still awaiting full compensation from the Aum Supreme Truth cult, LDP sources said Sunday.
According to a summary of the bill compiled by the LDP project team, headed by House of Representatives member Chuko Hayakawa, the government will pay compensation that should have been paid by Aum as solace for the suffering experienced by the cult’s victims. The team’s main task has been to formulate basic policy for crime victims, and the LDP plans to submit the bill to the ordinary Diet session next year.
Many of those due to receive compensation from Aum have only received 35 percent of the agreed amount. As the Aum Supreme Truth looks set to be declared bankrupt in March next year, however, there is only a slim chance that Aum victims will ever receive the full amount of compensation.
It is rare for the government to extend relief to crime victims in the event that compensation is left unpaid due to bankruptcy.
People injured in certain Aum attacks, and the families of those killed, will be entitled to the solatium payments. Eligible cases include the February 1989 lynching of cult member Shuji Taguchi, who had tried to leave the cult, and the November 1989 murder of all three members of the family of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who had criticized the cult. The eligible cases also include the sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on June 27, 1994, and the massive sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995. A total of 27 people were killed in Aum-related incidents.
Those who suffered only psychological or property damage will not be eligible for the solatium, according to the sources.
The project team estimates the total amount of solatium payments at about 2.5 billion yen.
The team cited the “peculiarities” of the Aum cases as the reason for offering the special solatium to the Aum victims, the sources explained.
The bill is said to be based on the following principles:
- The Aum cases were a challenge to democracy, with innocent citizens paying the price instead of the state in the subversive crimes.
- The victims and their families, have done their best to cope on their own.
- The cases already have prompted the government to introduce a special law abandoning its claims to Aum’s assets.
Paperwork concerning the payment of the solatium will be entrusted to the bankruptcy administrator for the cult, according to the sources. Details of how the government will fund the solatium payments have been left for later discussions.
According to lawyers working on aid for Aum victims, the Aum Supreme Truth’s aggregate liability is about 5.1 billion yen, including damage compensation due to be paid to victims and claims for refunds of fees by former Aum members.
Among these, compensation due to victims in the Matsumoto and Tokyo sarin attacks and other incidents totals about 3.8 billion yen. Aum has so far paid about 1.3 billion yen, but there is now little prospect of repayment of the remaining sum, with the cult’s bankruptcy proceedings due to be completed in March next year.