Doomsday Cult Members Executed Over Subway Attacks In Japan
Japan has executed six members of a Japanese doomsday cult over gas attacks and other crimes committed in the 1990s. The members were the last ones remaining on death row for the crimes. Thirteen members of the group had received death sentences. The first seven were executed about three weeks ago. Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Japan has never executed so many people in one month.
The executed prisoners were once members of a cult called Aum Shinrikyo, or Supreme Truth, led by Shoko Asahara. Asahara, whose original name was Chizuo Matsumoto, founded the cult in 1984 and quickly attracted followers, many of them top university graduates working in science, medicine and other elite fields. The cult amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in anticipation of overthrowing the government.
The cult was found to be responsible for a sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways on March 20, 1995 that killed 13 people and sickened 6,000. Cult members on the subway cars used umbrellas to puncture plastic bags containing the deadly nerve agent as they approached the Kasumigaseki station. The subway attack was intended to disrupt an investigation into the group.
Four of the six cult members most recently executed were convicted of releasing sarin on the subway in the 1995 attack. The two others were convicted of a 1994 sarin attack in the city of Matsumoto that killed seven people and injured more than 140 and the 1989 murders of a lawyer, his wife, and their 1-year-old baby. Overall, the cult was blamed for 27 deaths before authorities raided its compound near Mount Fuji in 1995.
During an eight-year trial, Asahara never acknowledged his responsibility or offered meaningful explanations. While some of his followers later offered explanations for their actions, their admittances brought them no mercy. The executions were announced only after they had happened, as is the practice in Japan.