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Victims of AUM crimes to get compensation from government

Mainichi Daily News, Japan
June 11, 2008 • Wednesday June 11, 2008

A bill aimed at paying compensation to victims of serious crimes committed by the AUM Shinrikyo cult was passed into law on Wednesday.

The House of Councillors unanimously passed the bill at a plenary session Wednesday morning. It had earlier cleared a full House of Representatives.

Shizue Takahashi, 61, who heads a victims’ group of the cult’s sarin attack on subway trains in March 1995, smiled as the Upper House approved the bill.

“Thirteen years of efforts (to seek legislation on compensation for victims) finally bore fruit. I feel a sense of accomplishment,” Takahashi said following the plenary session. She lost her 50-year-old husband Kazumasa, who worked as an assistant station master at Kasumigaseki Subway Station, when it was gassed by the cult in 1995.

During her campaign, Takahashi met with legislators and appealed to them for help for those who are still suffering from the after-effects of the nerve gas attack and families who support bed-ridden victims.

The law requires the government to pay compensation to approximately 4,000 people — surviving victims and the bereaved families of victims of eight crimes committed by the cult. The government will subsequently demand compensation from the cult.

The incidents include the murder of anti-AUM lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, his wife and their son in 1989, a sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, which killed seven people and sickened hundreds of others and the subway gassing that left 12 people dead and thousands of others ill.

Under the law, 30 million yen will be paid to each of survivors who need nursing care for serious after-effects, 20 million yen each to those who died or suffered serious after-effects in the incidents and up to 5 million yen for other survivors.

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