Sarin victims say more must be done

Asahi Shimbun, March 20, 2000

With today marking the fifth anniversary of Aum Shinrikyo's sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system, victims of the assault and their supporters say the government has done little to assist them.

``We've made many requests for aid from the central and metropolitan governments,'' said Shizue Takahashi, a representative of a victims' group, whose husband died in the attack.

``What we've been given is a questionnaire from the National Police Agency to describe our status. Our pursuit of responsibility from the bureaucracy will continue,'' she said at a news conference Saturday.

She, along with other victims and sympathizers, blasted what they called the government's unwillingness to compensate victims.

Kenji Utsunomiya, head of a legal team monitoring victims since the March 20, 1995, attack, criticized the government and municipalities for showing little support for survivors and other victims.

``The only financial compensation has come from the Aum's bankruptcy proceedings,'' he said.

Aum leaders have announced it will pay 10 million yen in monthly compensation packages to a bankruptcy administrator.

However, ``this doesn't mean we are willing to pardon the assailants,'' Takahashi said. ``We would like (cult followers) to recognize their involvement in the attack.''

Utsunomiya also said various issues concerning the government's desire to care for victims also were exposed after the gas attack, which killed 12 and sickened thousands.

On Saturday in Tokyo's Adachi Ward, a charity group, the Foundation for the Victims of the Sarin Gas Attack, began offering free consultations to victims suffering from either physical of psychological post-traumatic stress.

Examinations were made on 84 people who visited the Adachi Ward Office on Saturday.

The checkups will be offered until the end of April. More than 300 victims are expected to visit the organization to seek help.

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