crime

Japan marks 22nd anniversary of Tokyo subway sarin gas attack

15 Comments

Japan on Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

About 20 Tokyo Metro staff at Kasumigaseki subway station on the Hibiya line held a moment of silence at 8 a.m. to remember two former colleagues who died in the attack. Memorial services were held at five other subway stations.

In all, 13 people died and 6,300 were sickened after the Aum Supreme Truth cult released sarin in five subway trains during co-ordinated rush-hour attacks on March 20, 1995.

Thirteen Aum members, including cult leader Shoko Asahara, remain on death row, while others are serving prison sentences. The last fugitive was arrested in 2012.

In what some believe was an attempt to divert the authorities that Asahara thought were closing in on his base in the foothills of Mount Fuji, he sent five teams of two people to attack the Tokyo subway.

Five adherents -- among them a senior medical doctor and several physicists -- dumped packages of sarin on busy trains, puncturing them with sharpened umbrella tips, before being driven away from a pre-determined station by their co-conspirators.

The nerve gas, so toxic that a single drop can kill a person, evaporated over the following minutes as thousands of unwitting commuters got on and off each train.

Staff and passengers were among the dead. Many of those sickened only realised what had happened as their symptoms worsened throughout the day and news broadcasts began piecing events together.

Aum was never officially disbanded. It went bankrupt because of the massive damage payments it was forced to make to victims of its crimes.

Former members have continued under different groupings with new names, such as Aleph.

© AFP/Japan Today

  • Sort by
  • Oldest
  • Latest
  • Popular

15 Comments
Login to comment

Um. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. Yes, I still vividly remember seeing the breaking news of the abhorrent sarin gas attack. Speaking of Kasumigaseki, that was the place I used to go out very often at that time. But fortunately, I happen to be at home when the incident occurred.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rest in Peace to all the victims of this shocking case of terrorism. Having read a little and watched some documentaries, it seems sadly the authorities had plenty of intelligence on this terror group, but were unable to prevent the attacks. The tragedy is that many hundreds of victims were that day rendered disabled by the nerve gas and still today, unable to function without 24-hour care. Heartbreaking for their families - and it must be equally frustrating that none of the terror group have yet had their death penalties served.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

22 years ago, seems like yesterday. I am glad they still hold a memorial service.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Was living in Akasaka then, office was in Kamiyacho, did the Chiyoda-sen from Akasaka to Kasumigaseki, and transferred there to the Hibiya-sen to Kamiyacho. Would have been going through this route right at the time of the attack, but had to be in the office early to finish an urgent report.

Missed it by 30 minutes, but stood on the balcony of the office building as they started tending to victims on the street around the main Kamiyacho intersection.

I will never forget that day. Every year I say a prayer of remembrance for those who lost their lives.... and a prayer of thanks for having been spared.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@zones

Holy crap! That was really close. I was living in Toshima-ku at the time and remember the breaking news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Tsuchifumazu,

It was horrific. The whole day was surreal.

To be honest, 1995 was not a great year. The Kobe earthquake in January, the sarin jiken in March and then endaka in the summer, with the FX rate hitting Yen 79 to the dollar.

I think that was the year everyone really started to realize that the bubble days were gone.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Remember it well. And all the info involving the Aum Shinrikyo that was divulged after that. Everyday for the longest time was Asahara Shoko and his minions. Rest in peace to all the victims, and give their surviving loved ones the strength to carry on.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well those decades flew by. How sad for the vicims and their families.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

'Underground' by Haruki Murukami is the only book that's ever made me cry (a couple of the interviews it contains with survivors and bereaved are utterly gut wrenching); it's a really good look at what happened that day, and how, and why. Highly recommended reading. RIP to the victims and thoughts with those still living with their injuries psychological and physical

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Haruki Murukami is aiming the Nobel Prize in literature, LOL.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

If daring to take on such a topic and writing really beautifully (as far as the word beautiful goes on this topic) and realistically at the same time, Why shouldn't he?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I grieve for the victims. On another note, why isn't Asahara dead yet?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@zones

Holy crap! That was really close. I was living in Toshima-ku at the time and remember the breaking news.

Really?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tina,

Murukami wrote an excellent book on the topic at hand. I would agree that his literature isn't the stuff of Nobel prizes, but what on earth has that got to do with the Aum attack and what on earth does have to do with "an anti-Japan stance"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I take the train from this station back home from work daily (use another to get to work). It's always spooky for me, the last 6 alphabets of the station name when split into two words....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration