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Japan marks 29 years since Tokyo subway sarin gas attack

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Japan on Wednesday marked the 29th anniversary of a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway system by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

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.

In all, 14 people died and about 6,300 were sickened after cult members released sarin in trains during co-ordinated rush-hour attacks on March 20, 1995. Five train cars were attacked simultaneously on three separate subway lines (Hibiya, Chiyoda and Marunouchi), causing havoc at the stations and paralyzing the subway network in the capital.

Thirteen Aum members, including cult leader Shoko Asahara, were executed, 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 three different groupings with new names, such as Aleph.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

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13 Comments
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Thirteen Aum members, including cult leader Shoko Asahara, were executed, while others are serving prison sentences. The last fugitive was arrested in 2012.

It was done by Japan's cult member, however around station foreigner who'll be checked from time to time.

-16 ( +5 / -21 )

These multiple terrorist attacks were among the most shocking moments of modern Japanese history. Hearts go out to those victims of the attacks - and the hundreds of people whose lives were destroyed.

The only tiny consolation is that the terrorist ringleaders were deservedly hung.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I worked in Tokyo at the time but was not directly affected. What a heinous crime from a freaky new religion. And even down to today, good luck finding a rubbish bin in Tokyo.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

OMG, has it been that long ? I feel so old now.

I remember it like it was yesterday

9 ( +10 / -1 )

What day isn't an anniversary of something? Sorry, but making every single day a major remembrance of some disaster or another only lessens the importance of remembering it. I can see the 30th being a big one, or the 25th, etc., but these days they have "half anniversaries" or "half-coming of age days" for ten-year-olds, and wasn't it just the 8th annivesary of something else? Or was it the 13th? I forget.

Don't get me wrong... these things should never be forgotten, but often what should be gatherings of family and friends of the deceased to mark the tragedies, and in some cases and some times national remembrances, are too often being the news of the day -- and it desensitizes people to it all, not to mention hurts those who wish to mourn and remember privately or together with those who suffered with them.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

This guy was not a revolutionary,but a self delusional insecure man,if he had problems,he should of took his fight to the powers to be,like the government of Japan,that have fell their people and not innocent citizens

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

he should of took his fight to the powers to be,like the government of Japan

Just to be perfectly clear: You are saying his sarin gas attack was not wrong, just in the wrong place?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That morning, I was supposed to be on the Chiyoda Line and for whatever reason I did not get on and my Australian friend at that time warned me to stay off the trains that day.

There are still so many today, suffering from the aftereffects of that day and from my understanding there is very little financial support for them, and so, I wish to remember those who are still present in this world and who need the now support.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Yrral

At the bare minimum, Wikipedia is your friend. It was an apocalyptic totalitarian sect. It got a problem with anybody and everybody which was not a perfectly subservient member.

Perhaps you should try more careful wording.

https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/aum_chrn.pdf

https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/the-lessons-from-aum-shinrikyo-tokyos-terrorist-cult-5e5213c1d0e4

6 ( +6 / -0 )

making every single day a major remembrance of some disaster or another only lessens the importance of remembering it.

Huh? How does it do that?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I remember seeing this on TV before I came to the Country to work in the very same area, shortly afterwards. Friends of mine back then, recounted how lucky they were, to have caught an earlier train.

It's been a one-off event, and I'm still here in Japan, though not sure for how much longer - given the "Native" Language requirements for employment these days.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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

And why are these people allowed to continue in these newer groups, so they can pull this stunt again? They are NOT a religion but a cult and a terrorist group. Real religions don't perform terrorist acts or kill.

smithinjapanMar. 20  07:41 pm JST

What day isn't an anniversary of something? Sorry, but making every single day a major remembrance of some disaster or another only lessens the importance of remembering it. I can see the 30th being a big one, or the 25th, etc., but these days they have "half anniversaries" or "half-coming of age days" for ten-year-olds, and wasn't it just the 8th annivesary of something else? Or was it the 13th? I forget.

That exact same year on April 19 in the US, Tim McVey pulled his terror act on a Federal building in OKC. There may be a reason for not wanting to remember the date. When I visited Lexington and Concord in 2019, I saw an entry sign stating the American Revolution 'officially' began there on April 19, 1775. Do the math. Tim McVey based his act on a neo-Nazi novel, 'The Turner Diaries'. He wanted to kickstart a Nazi revolution that thankfully didn't happen. On the 220th anniversary of Lexington and Concord. A sick coincidence? No.

FluteMar. 20  11:56 pm JST

@Yrral

At the bare minimum, Wikipedia is your friend. It was an apocalyptic totalitarian sect. It got a problem with anybody and everybody which was not a perfectly subservient member.

With the end of the millennium coming in 5 years there was a lot of sick crazy crap going on, all over the world. And look how things have been since. We must be diligent and never forget.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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