The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday unveiled drafts of two bills designed to tighten control of Aum Shinrikyo and facilitate redress to its victims.
The government plans to submit a bill that will enable the Public Security Investigation Agency to regularly supervise and restrict Aum activities, the Justice Ministry said.
Once the legislation is in place, another bill, to be submitted by the LDP-led ruling coalition, will enable victims of alleged Aum crimes to receive more redress from the cult. The second bill is intended to clarify Aum’s total assets, believed to exceed figures claimed by the cult.
Both pieces of legislation are scheduled to be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session that begins Friday.
In 1996, the Public Security Investigation Agency sought but failed to use the Antisubversive Activities Law to outlaw Aum and ban all acts committed on the sect’s behalf.
At the time, the Public Security Examination Commission said the agency’s claim that there is a “clear danger” the group will carry out terrorist attacks “in the future” was not sufficient to evoke the law, which was originally intended as a measure against leftist extremists.
However, since last spring, municipalities and residents near Aum facilities have grown wary of the cult and its members.
According to the outlines of the first bill — which aims “to impose control on a group whose members have carried out or attempted indiscriminate murders in the past, with the leader still holding a strong influence on members,” — the Public Security Examination Commission can supervise the group at the request of the Director General of the Public Security Investigation Agency. The supervisory period is limited to three years, it says.
Every three months during the period, the targeted group must inform the director general of the names and addresses of group members, the locations of its facilities, the amount of its assets and the details of group activities.
If necessary, members of the agency will be allowed to enter the group’s facilities for further inspection, according to the bill.
If it becomes necessary to prevent the cult from performing more dangerous activities, the commission, within six months, can stop the group from obtaining or using any land or facilities for its activities.
The commission can also stop the group and its members from receiving donations or holding sermons that may spread the cult’s teachings.
The commission can also ask police to cooperate if necessary, the bill says.
The appointed group or its members would receive a penalty of one to two years in prison or be fined if it disturbs the inspections. Authorities would also be punished if they abuse their power, it said.
The other bill aims to collect the assets of the bankrupt Aum Shinrikyo and its affiliated companies and groups, and submit them to the trustee assigned to dispose of the cult’s assets.
The Tokyo District Court declared Aum bankrupt in March 1996. However, it is speculated that some of its assets flowed out and were used to continue the group’s activities through dummy businesses.
However, as Aum did not keep records or have bank accounts, the trustees have had difficulty grasping the true amount of the cult’s financial assets, the ministry said.
About 2,100 victims and their families have sued Aum for damages related to activities including the 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attack. Only about 20 percent of what they have claimed has been distributed so far.
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