The Aum Supreme Truth cult received revenue totaling about 2.6 billion yen, including about 1.6 billion yen from sales at computer shops, during a three-year period from 1997 to 1999, the cult announced at a press conference Saturday night.
The cult used most of the revenue to purchase new facilities, support its members and for other purposes, Fumihiro Joyu, a 37-year-old senior member, and Aum spokesman Hiroshi Araki said at the cult's Yokohama branch. According to the announcement, the revenue came from sales at its computer shops in Akihabara, Tokyo, and other locations where about 200 followers were employed. During the three-year period, the cult also generated about 400 million yen in revenue from sales at computer software companies operated by its members, and about 600 million yen from seminars and other branch-level activities.
Meanwhile, the cult's expenditure during the period totaled about 2.66 billion yen, they said.
Among the expenditures, the largest was for living expenses for about 600 members at live-in facilities operated by Aum, which totaled about 1.8 billion yen.
The cult also spent about 300 million yen on the purchase of facilities at Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, and to obtain a lease for printing facilities in Sanwamachi, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Other expenses included 290 million yen to construct shelters and stockpile food and other emergency equipment in the event of a global-scale disaster, such as an "Armageddon" war predicted by Aum founder Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Asahara.
The legal costs to defend suits filed against the cult over various crimes allegedly committed by it totaled about 33 million yen, they said. The cult also estimated that its followers have about 180 million yen in cash and deposits.
Joyu and Araki said that Aum members are living off personal assets and stored provisions as the computer stores are no longer profitable. Commenting on a recent report that Aum-related companies had received contracts to provide software to government offices and major companies, the cult said the group of Aum members operating such software companies will be disbanded after they complete the current contracts. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the so-called M Group, which comprises five companies run by the cult's followers, has developed sales personnel and client management systems and other software for the Defense Agency, Construction, Posts and Telecommunications and Education ministries, and about 80 major companies including NTT. Sarin attack survivors meet Survivors of Aum's alleged sarin attacks in 1994 and 1995 and victims' family members held a symposium in Tokyo on Saturday, calling for social support for the incurable injuries suffered by survivors of the attacks. At the symposium, titled "We'll Never Forget You," participants emphasized that they are still suffering from the aftereffects of the deadly nerve gas attacks in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994 and on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.
The Matsumoto poisoning attack killed seven people and injured more than 200, while the gassing on the Tokyo subway system killed 12 commuters and sickened thousands of others.
The symposium was organized by the group that raised funds to financially support survivors and bereaved families of the two attacks. March 20 will mark the fifth anniversary of the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
In a keynote speech at the symposium, Yoshiyuki Kono, a victim of the Matsumoto attack, stressed the need for financial support for the sarin victims.
"Every evening, I have a slight temperature," Kono said. "My medical costs are very high."
Kono, 50, was the first person to report the Matsumoto attack to police, and was once considered a prime suspect before being exonerated later.
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