Japan on Friday marked the 25th anniversary of a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway.
Tokyo Metro staff, relatives of victims and Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba observed a moment of silence at 8 a.m. at Kasumigaseki subway station on the Hibiya Line to remember those who died in the attack. A moment of silence was observed at five other subway stations.
In all, 14 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 of those killed died by the end of 1996 while the 14th, Sachiko Asakawa, 56, who had been bedridden with severe brain damage following the attack, died on March 10 this year, Kyodo News reported.
Thirteen Aum members, including cult leader Shoko Asahara, were executed in 2018, 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 in 1996 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 and Hikari no Wa in 15 prefectures. The Public Security Intelligence Agency says the groups have about 1,650 members and assets estimated at 1.3 billion yen.© Japan Today