Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Reminder Needed

Friday marked the 14th anniversary of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by cult AUM Shinrikyo, which killed 12 and injured more than 5,000 people.

The Mainichi Shimbun quoted a lawyer affected by the attack as noting "The threat of a chemical attack against civilians is being forgotten." He has proposed the construction of a memorial for victims. "We should pass down our memories of the attack to future generations, to prevent it happening again" he concluded.

Yes, that is one purpose of a memorial. And it is the same one voiced by so many of Japan’s war victims. They want a physical, visual, lasting presence of their suffering. It is supposed to remind people to never repeat, to never allow again their government to inflict such human indignities upon others.

In December 2008, victims of the attack began to receive compensation from the Japanese government for their injuries and suffering. The Aum cult, itself, is bankrupt and thus the government took on the responsibility for compensation. Aum's assets were only enough to pay for 40% of the compensation required to its victims, which they did not begin to receive until after March 2008. 

Interestingly, it was DPJ-sponsored legislation that set up the government funding for the rest of the compensation package.  As the settlement took so long to be accomplished under the LDP, only half of those eligible for compensation have applied and about 20% have yet to be located.

Gosh, I thought I was going to be writing about historical memory and I end up detailing but another failure of the LDP.

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