TOKYO, March 20–(Kyodo)– Japan marked the 11th anniversary Monday of the deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, with subway workers and families of victims offering silent prayers and flowers at sarin-hit stations.
At Kasumigaseki Station at 8 a.m., 16 subway workers observed 30 seconds of silence. It was at around 8 a.m. on March 20, 1995, that members of the AUM Shinrikyo cult released sarin on five trains on three central Tokyo subway lines. The attack eventually took the lives of 12 people and left more than 5,500 injured.
A flower tribute stand was also set up at the station and subway workers and Shizue Takahashi, the wife of a station employee who lost his life in the attack, placed flowers there.
“Offering flowers on the hour my husband was suffering made me recall my emotions on that day,” Takahashi said. “We have been under the same circumstance for the past 11 years, and we want the government to map out measures to provide means of closure,” she said, speaking of other families of victims.
Hiroshi Araki, head of public relations at Aleph, which is the name of AUM now, offered flowers at around 9 a.m. at the station, saying, “Our efforts to compensate the victims are still half-way and lagging, but we want to make up for the delay as soon as possible.”
Five other sarin-hit subway stations — Nakanosakaue, Kodemmacho, Hatchobori, Tsukiji and Kamiyacho — also set up flower tribute stands and marked the occasion with a moment of silence.
AUM Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was sentenced to death at the Tokyo District Court in February 2004 for his involvement in the sarin gas attack and 12 other crimes. His defense team is seeking to have him declared mentally incompetent to undergo court proceeds in an appeal process.