An ordinance proposed by Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward to subsidize a residential campaign against Aum Shinrikyo was approved Monday by a committee of the ward assembly.

About 80 Aum followers, including the cult’s representative, Fumihiro Joyu, live in an apartment complex in the Karasuyama area, which has effectively become Aum’s headquarters.

The ordinance, OK’d by the committee on issues related to local residents’ lives, is expected to be endorsed Thursday by the full assembly.

Setagaya officials said it is the first time that a local government has put forth an ordinance that legitimatizes the use of subsidies to help residents campaign against Aum.

Several local municipalities, including the city of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, and Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, have used public money to help local residents pressure members of the cult to leave their neighborhoods.

According to the ordinance, the ward must probe the impact of Aum’s activities on Setagaya residents’ lives when it is feared their safety may be threatened.

It also allows the ward office to provide public funds for residential campaigns aimed at preventing damage that could be caused by Aum activities.

Aum spokesman Hiroshi Araki said the bill, which only targets Aum, violates the constitutional equality of people while stirring up public discrimination and hatred toward the cult, whose members carried out two deadly nerve gas attacks and other heinous crimes.

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