Gov't will help cultists quit AUM

Mainichi Daily News, November 2, 1999

The Government will take special measures to help followers of the doomsday cult AUM Shinrikyo adapt themselves to society by providing job information and counseling, the Mainichi has learned.

The measures are needed because the doomsday cult will still be a source of terror unless most followers quit and rehabilitate themselves to society, the officials say.

Two bills tightening regulations on the cult and rescuing victims of their terrorist activities are slated to be submitted to the current Diet session on Tuesday. This could prompt many AUM members to desert and so made the reforms more urgent.

The measures are aimed at correcting cultists' brainwashed minds by counseling and helping them go back into normal social life.

In a related development, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Komeito is set to submit a bill that is designed to help victims of AUM activities receive damage awards more easily. After the Tokyo District Court declared AUM Shinrikyo bankrupt in March 1996, victims of AUM's fatal sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system and in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, claimed that the religious cult owes them some 3.8 billion yen in compensation. The government-appointed trustee of AUM property said in October 1998 that only 863 million yen would be paid to victims.

However, government sources say turnover of businesses such as computer shops controlled by AUM, for example, reached more than 7 billion yen in 1998. Apparently using the profits, the cult purchased real estate property, mostly in the Kanto and Koshinetsu regions.

Meanwhile, the government plans to submit another bill regulating AUM's activities on Tuesday. This bill would stipulate even more severe measures, such as raids on cult facilities and obliging cult members to regularly report their assets and financial conditions to law enforcement officials. Those measures would be instituted because people in areas where the cult has made inroads wanted the government to clarify AUM's real activities.

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