TOKYO, March 19–(Kyodo) Survivors of the AUM Shinrikyo cult’s deadly sarin nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system gather in Tokyo on Saturday on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the tragedy to raise public awareness about their plight and urge the government to provide more aid.
Three members of a New York-based support group for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States will also take part in the gathering to share their experiences.
They are in Japan at the invitation of Shizue Takahashi, the widow of one of the two subway workers who died. She represents a group of the sarin victims.
Survivors, family members as well as medical and support staff for the victims took part in a memorial walk in Tokyo before gathering at the Japan National Press Club for the pre-anniversary rally.
The events are aimed at reminding the government of the situation of the victims who are still suffering from physical and psychological effects. It is also hoped it will have a therapeutic effect for the participants.
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The sarin gas attack on March 20, 1995, became one of the worst attacks in Japan’s postwar history and greatly shattered a nation that had long prided itself for its security. It took place around 8 a.m. in five trains on three subway lines during the morning rush hour.
The attack killed 12 people and sickened more than 5,500 others. Of the 12 who died, two were subway workers at Kasumigaseki Station, connecting the three subway lines — Hibiya, Marunouchi, Chiyoda.
AUM founder Shoko Asahara, 50, was sentenced to death Feb. 27 last year for his role in 13 criminal cases, including the subway attack, that resulted in the death of a total of 27 people. His defense team has appealed the ruling.