All six remaining death row inmates who were former members of the AUM Shinrikyo cult were executed on Thursday for their involvement in the killing of 13 people in a deadly sarin gas attack in subways here in Japan in 1995.
Government sources confirmed the hanging that came after the cult founder Shoko Asahara was executed with six of his former followers on July 6 for a series of crimes committed by the cult.
Asahara was arrested two months after the sarin attacks for being the mastermind of the attack that also left more than 6,000 others severely injured.
The Aum Shinrikyo, or Aum Supreme Truth cult, which mixed Buddhist and Hindu meditation with apocalyptic teachings, staged a series of crimes including simultaneous sarin gas attacks on subway trains during rush hour in March 1995. Sarin, a nerve gas, was originally developed by the Nazis.
The images of bodies, many in business suits, sprawled across platforms stunned Japan, and triggered public safety steps such as the removal of non-transparent rubbish bins that remain in force to this day.
As well as killing the 13, the attack injured at least 5,800 people, some permanently.
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa read out the names of the seven at a news conference and said what they had done was “extremely atrocious”.
“These crimes … plunged people not only in Japan but in other countries as well into deadly fear and shook society to its core,” Kamikawa said.
Chizuo Matsumoto, the cult’s leader who went by the name Shoko Asahara, was the first to be hanged, media said as it broke into regular programming to report the news. Announcements of other hangings followed through the morning. Family members of attack victims expressed relief.>