30% of subway gas attack survivors still suffer from stress

Kyodo News Service/Associated Press / August 9, 2000

TOKYO, Aug. 9 (Kyodo) -- About 30% of the survivors of the 1995 nerve gas attack on the capital's subway system by the AUM Shinrikyo cult still suffer from stress-induced disorders resulting from the incident, a support group for the victims said Wednesday.

Medical examinations conducted on 362 victims between March and April in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo, showed they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the group, led by Saburo Abe, a lawyer and bankruptcy administrator of AUM, which now calls itself Aleph. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include sleep disorders, depression and anxiety.

The examination included eyesight and blood tests, as well as diagnostic interviews, the group said. According to the results of the examinations, 117 victims showed symptoms of the illness.

Among the 117, 13 said they still avoid riding subway trains, and 60% said they suffer from poor vision. Abe submitted letters of request to three ministers, asking the government to provide financial support for regular health examinations for the victims. The ministries he petitioned are the Heath and Welfare Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry.

"The victims need measures for their damages for five to 10 years in the future and the government has to support them," Abe said. Twelve people were killed and more than 5,000 others injured in the subway gas attack March 20, 1995.

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