Japan Marks 28th Anniversary of Deadly Sarin Attack by Aum Shinrikyo Doomsday Cult

Pool / Jiji Press
Workers observes a moment of silence at Tokyo Metro Co.’s Kasumigaseki Station in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A ceremony was held in Tokyo on Monday to mourn the victims of the sarin nerve gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult on a subway system in the Japanese capital 28 years ago.

Fourteen workers at Tokyo Metro Co.’s Kasumigaseki Station observed a moment of silence at 8 a.m., around the time when the sarin attack took place, and flowers were laid for the victims. The attack killed 14 people and injured over 6,000 others.

Shizue Takahashi, a 76-year-old bereaved relative, visited the subway station later on Monday morning and remembered those killed in the incident. She said: “More and more people don’t know about the incident. It mustn’t be forgotten, as problems related other cult groups are emerging.”

In the morning rush hour of March 20, 1995, senior members of the now-defunct cult released sarin on trains on three lines of the Teito Rapid Transit Authority, now Tokyo Metro, running through Kasumigaseki Station, close to many Japanese government offices. At Kasumigaseki, Takahashi’s husband, Kazumasa, then 50, deputy head of the station, and Tsuneo Hishinuma, then 51, also an employee of the Teito Rapid Transit Authority, died in the attack.

In July 2018, Aum Shinrikyo leader Chizuo Matsumoto, then 63, who went by the name of Shoko Asahara, and 12 others were executed over the subway attack and other crimes committed by the cult, after their death sentences were finalized.

Earlier this month, the Public Security Examination Commission, an affiliate of the Justice Ministry, has decided to restrict the activities of Aleph, a successor group to Aum Shinrikyo, under a related law for the group’s failure to submit part of required reports, including on its assets. The penalty will run until Sept. 20.