Bankruptcy process at Aum ends; taxpayers to foot rest of redress

Kyodo News/November 27, 2008

Bankruptcy procedures for Aum Shinrikyo effectively came to an end Wednesday following the disbursement of ¥1.54 billion in compensation to victims of the doomsday cult's 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes, a lawyer in charge of the process said.

The redress, however, is only about 40 percent of what the cult was supposed to pay, lawyer Saburo Abe said at the victims' final meeting in Tokyo.

New legislation aimed at compensating Aum's victims with taxpayer money is due to start next month. Each victim is eligible to receive up to ¥30 million, depending on the degree of suffering.

The remaining bankruptcy procedures for Aum are only technicalities, and Wednesday was the effective end of the process, the lawyer said.

The cult was declared bankrupt by the Tokyo District Court in March 1996 in order to sell off its assets and help finance compensation for the victims.

According to Abe, about ¥3.81 billion of Aum Shinrikyo's ¥5.16 billion in liabilities is compensation.

After the cult split up in the late 1990s - Aum Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph and a small group led by senior member and former spokesman Fumihiro Joyu broke away to form Hikari no Wa - the victims had a hard time getting their money, Abe said.

The Diet drafted the compensation measure in June to get the victims the rest of their compensation.

"I don't want Aum to believe this is the end of its responsibility toward the victims," said Shizue Takahashi, who lost her husband in the subway gassing.

The sarin attack on the subway system killed 12 people and injured 5,500. Aum's other crimes include a separate sarin gassing in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1994 and the 1989 killings of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family.

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