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Japan Gas Victims Battle Effects

March 16, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Many victims of the 1995 Tokyo subway gassing continue to have health problems five years later, according to a newspaper survey published Thursday.

The survey of victims, conducted last month by the Mainichi newspaper, said two-thirds of those who responded still feel ill effects from the attack. It also said more than 70 percent of the respondents believe the government has not done enough to monitor their health or help them financially.

Twelve people were killed and thousands injured in the March 20, 1995 sarin gas attack. Japanese courts have found several leaders of a doomsday cult called the Aum Shinri Kyo, or Supreme Truth, guilty in the gassing. The murder trial of the group’s former guru, Shoko Asahara, is still ongoing in a Tokyo court.

Many victims of the attack still complain of poor vision, chronic headaches and psychological problems, the survey said.

Of the 62 respondents, 10 said their health has worsened, 18 see no major improvement and 12 others still have health concerns. Fourteen said their health has improved.

The cult has been under government surveillance and has been declared bankrupt. But it is believed to be raking in hidden profits from a computer software business.

The Japanese government toughened its laws late last year to allow the authorities to seize the cult’s assets more easily and monitor the cult more closely. But only two of the Mainichi survey respondents said they were satisfied with such government measures. Almost all respondents also complained that Asahara’s trial is moving too slowly.

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