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Computer outlet staffed by AUM followers to open in Tokyo+.

TOKYO, June 16 Kyodo

A firm run by two human right activists plans to hire AUM Shinrikyo followers to work at a personal computer sales outlet in Tokyo as part of their program to protect the human rights of AUM cult members, sources close to police and the company said Thursday.

The two activists -- Eizo Yamagiwa and Yukio Yamanaka -- plan to open the computer outlet in a condominium in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Saturday and hire eight AUM members as employees, the sources told Kyodo News.

The outlet also plans to sell PCs by mail order.

Yamagiwa, 67, a movie director by profession, heads a human rights group called "Network for Human Rights and Media," and Yamanaka, 51, runs another human rights group called "Relief Liaison Center."

The AUM cult, which now calls itself "Aleph" and used to run computer shops to finance its operation, denied involvement in the launch of the new computer outlet.

The AUM followers plan to use their salaries to pay compensation to victims of crimes caused by the cult, the sources said.

Profits the outlet makes will be used to expand its operations so that the firm can hire more AUM members in the future, they said.

"I thought it would be nice to give AUM followers not involved in past AUM crimes the opportunity to make contacts within society. I'm against the public's discrimination against AUM followers and violation of their human rights," Yamagiwa told Kyodo News.

"I'd like to make the outlet's account transparent to avoid public criticism of our activities," he added.

Lawyer Saburo Abe, who serves as the bankruptcy administrator for the cult, once approved the idea of AUM selling PCs so that it could earn money to pay compensation to victims of its crimes.

Lawyers representing the victims expressed strong opposition to the idea, saying such activity would lead to keeping the cult alive.

All four shops selling PCs run by companies affiliated with AUM were closed in late January. It was believed that the shops generated 6 billion yen in sales in 1998.

AUM founder Shoko Asahara and a number of other cultists have been on trial or convicted of committing a number of crimes including the 1995 fatal sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and left thousands sick.
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Comment:Computer outlet staffed by AUM followers to open in Tokyo+.
Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jun 19, 2000
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