Japan doomsday cult leader executed 23 years after Tokyo sarin attack

09 July, 2018, 09:59 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Shoko Asahara whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto

Some of those transferred were not among the seven hanged Friday. The others are Tomomasa Nakagawa, Tomomitsu Niimi, Kiyohide Hayakawa, Yoshihiro Inoue, Seiichi Endo and Masami Tsuchiya, according to Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kawakami.

Six of the seven, including Asahara, had been implicated in the subway attack. The date of their executions is not known.

Executions in Japan are carried out in secret, with no advance warning given to the prisoner, their family or legal representatives, according to Amnesty International.

Japan's justice minister, who approved the hangings Tuesday, said she doesn't take executions lightly but felt they were justified in this case because of the unprecedentedly seriousness of the crimes.

A Japanese government spokesman confirmed Asahara's death and said six other members of Aum Shinrikyo had also been executed.

"The attacks carried out by Aum were despicable and those responsible deserve to be punished".

The group had 11,400 members in Japan, including graduates from some of the country's elite universities, at the time of the subway attack, as well as members in Germany, Russia and the United States.

And the execution of Asahara's followers risks elevating them to "martyrs" in the eyes of remaining cult adherents, warned Taro Takimoto, a lawyer for relatives of cultists, in an interview with AFP earlier this year.

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The attack killed eight people and injured more than 100. However, ultimately, the death penalty was given to Shoko Asahara and others high in the chain of this organization.

A citizens' group calling for abolishing the death penalty said it was a "mass execution that goes against the global trend". Joyu left Aleph in 2006. Here, Shoko Asahara sits on a throne on a Moscow stage as he meets with followers on February 17, 1994.The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty ImagesDOOMSDAY CULTShoko Asahara (center) and members of his cult when they formed their own political party on January 7, 1990.

Until his execution, there was little information about Asahara.

AUM evolved from a yoga school established by Asahara in 1984 and had about 1,400 live-in followers and over 10,000 lay followers at one point. The killing was eventually linked to the cult. The cult group made sarin, a deadly nerve agent in the facility. Another victim died in 2008.

Though concerns about the Aum had already been raised, the attack prompted a massive crackdown on the cult's headquarters in the foothills of Mount Fuji, where authorities discovered a plant capable of producing enough sarin to kill millions.

On March 20, 1995, cult members used umbrellas to puncture plastic bags, releasing sarin nerve gas inside subway cars just as their trains approached the Kasumigaseki station, Japan's Capitol Hill, during the morning rush. Thereby, the New Era, to be named next year, will not be blighted by the most terrifying terrorist attack that hit Japan during the Heisei Era.

Aum Shinrikyo killed a total of 27 people at its height.

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