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The Tokyo District Court on Monday ordered top leaders of Honohana Sampogyo to pay 150 million yen in damages to 31 people who accused the cult of conning them into contributing huge sums of money in the name of religious training.

In handing down his decision, presiding Judge Koichi Tsukuda upheld the plaintiffs’ claim that the cult members, including founder Hogen Fukunaga, 55, coerced the victims into giving the money to the cult between 1992 and 1996 by fueling anxieties about their health.

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