Aum agrees to hand over 5 cult facilities

Yomiuri Shimbun, January 18, 2000

Executives of the Aum Supreme Truth cult have expressed their willingness to hand over five of its facilities to Saburo Abe, its bankruptcy administrator and lawyer, in partial compliance with his request, it was learned Monday. Abe plans to sell the facilities and use their proceeds to compensate Aum victims and their families.

Cult leaders said they plan to hand over five facilities, including one in Tokigawamura, Saitama Prefecture. In addition, the cult is likely to give Abe the proceeds from the sales of two facilities--one in Minamiaikimura, Nagano Prefecture, and another in Fukiagemachi, Saitama Prefecture--both of which Abe confiscated last month.

Abe had requested that Aum hand over nine facilities across the country. However, the cult refused to give up four buildings, claiming that two facilities in Shiga Prefecture were private property and unrelated to the cult, and that two others in Gifu Prefecture were not under the cult's jurisdiction.

In addition, cult leaders said part of the five facilities to be confiscated would be handed over as private property of cult members, not as cult assets.

They added that they also plan to give up a facility inhabited by cult members in Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture. Although the building's former owner had filed an eviction order against the tenants, the cult had asked for a one-year grace period to leave the facility for the sake of current residents.

Aum: New law unconstitutional

In preparation for a hearing scheduled for Thursday, Aum on Monday issued a written statement to the Public Security Examination Commission. In the statement, the cult argues that a recently enacted law aimed to curtail its activities is unconstitutional.

The statement, submitted by one of its lawyers, was issued partly in response to the application submitted to the commission by the Public Security Investigation Agency seeking permission to monitor the cult's activities.

The statement said that the law, if enforced, would require the cult to periodically submit reports on assets and the names and addresses of members, which would infringe on the freedoms of thought, religion and residence of members. It added that the new law aimed at restricting the cult's activities is unconstitutional and violates human rights. In a previous written statement issued on Dec. 13, the cult stated it was no longer a menace to public safety.

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