Survivors of the 1995 sarin gas attack by the Aum Supreme Truth cult on the Tokyo subway system urged the government Friday to ensure that treatment for continuing effects on their health is paid for from public funds.
Representatives of a group, comprising 150 survivors and bereaved family members, said that many survivors continue to suffer physical aftereffects such as headaches, vision defects and psychological disorders. Saturday marked the fourth anniversary of the attack.
The group made their request in writing to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Health and Welfare Minister Sohei Miyashita.
The representatives said that they would also submit the written request to ministers of the Home Affairs and Justice ministries, as well as to the commissioner general of the National Police Agency and the Tokyo governor.
The group also requested that the government organize checks of victims' medical conditions, that a system of regular medical check-ups be established, and that they be provided with ongoing professional medical care at public expense, the representatives said.
They also requested close monitoring of the future activities of Aum, whose members carried out the gas attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.
The group representatives complained that cult followers had continued in their day-to-day activities as they did before the attack, suggesting that they had reflected little on the dire results of Aum's criminal actions.
One representative, Shizue Takahashi, 52, said that in the four years since the attack occurred the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments had done nothing for survivors and their families.
Nonaka: Law may be revised
Daily Yomiuri Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Friday that it may be wise to revise the Antisubversive Activities Law in reaction to Aum Supreme Truth's renewed activities, following the rejection of a request by the public security authorities to apply the draconian law to the cult in 1997.
"I'm tempted to ask why the law exists when I stop to think of the growing concerns held by residents in many areas where Aum members are increasingly active today," the top government spokesman said during a press conference.
Nonaka added, "The (security authorities') request was dismissed in the belief that the cult would never come back in strength."