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Japan marks 24th anniversary of Tokyo subway sarin gas attack

8 Comments

Japan on Wednesday marked the 24th anniversary of a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

About 20 Tokyo Metro staff and relatives of victims held a moment of silence at 8 a.m. at Kasumigaseki subway station on the Hibiya line to remember two former colleagues who died in the attack. A moment of silence was observed at five other subway stations.

In all, 13 people died and 6,300 were sickened after the Aum Shinrikyo 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, were executed last July, 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 realized 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.

© Japan Today

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8 Comments
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Don’t celebrate such sad events. I always see at least one nutter on the train. They might get ideas.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Don’t celebrate such sad events.

For the past 24 years, most of the attention has been focused on the perpetrators, their ideas, their appeals etc. etc.

The victims and their families should be remembered too.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wouldn't use the word celebrate in this case. I don't agree. Keeping people informed of how horrible a deed this was is the best way to prevent more attacks. Education works, ignorance doesn't.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Goodlucktoyou:

How on earth is this a celebration? Its simply paying respects to the dead.

Are you suggesting we stop remembering those who died in other terrorist attacks - Who were all innocent. Whilst relatives of the dead may not wish to be reminded of the actual event, I am sure that they wish they are not forgotten either.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Goodlucktoyou - Don’t celebrate such sad events.

It's a commemoration not a celebration.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Perhaps the celebration of a loved one's life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This event also marked the death of thousands of much needed trash cans/gomi bako/bins throughout Tokyo. That is how Aum affected daily life here. I wish the Japanese government would bring back the bins.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let us not forget that a full nine months earlier Aum had killed 8 people and hospitalized hundreds in a warm-up run in Matsumoto, Nagano in an attempt to kill a few judges. The Tokyo attacks were the result of a monstrous failure in policing and intelligence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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