NAGANO, Japan, June 26–(Kyodo) _ Sumiko Kono, who was one of the 144 people injured in the 1994 sarin gas attack by the AUM Shinrikyo cult in the central Japan city of Matsumoto and has remained unconscious since then, was visited by the Matsumoto mayor on Sunday ahead of the attack’s 11th anniversary Monday.
Kono, 57, who is bedridden in a welfare facility for the disabled in the Nagano Prefecture city, is the wife of Yoshiyuki Kono, who was falsely described as a suspect by police and media in the nerve-gas attack, which also killed seven people.
Mayor Akira Sugenoya presented Sumiko Kono with a bouquet of flowers, telling her, “Please hold on.”
Her 55-year-old husband, who became a member of the prefectural public safety commission following the attack, told reporters after the mayor’s visit, “The 11th anniversary does not have much significance to me as each day is important.”
“I’m grateful for the attention the mayor paid to my wife,” he said.
Shoko Asahara, founder of the doomsday cult which now calls itself Aleph, has been found guilty of instructing his followers to conduct the Matsumoto attack to test the sarin that AUM had produced.
Sarin was also used in a later attack on the Tokyo subway system by the cult in 1995.