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Subway workers offer prayers on sarin attack anniversary • Thursday March 20, 2003

Japan Times, Mar. 21, 2003

Tokyo subway workers offered prayers and flowers Thursday at Kasumigaseki Station to mark the eighth anniversary of the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.

At 8 a.m., about the time that members of the cult released the nerve gas in subway cars March 20, 1995, 23 employees at Kasumigaseki Station on the Hibiya Line observed a moment of silence at a signal given by station official Hisashi Aoyagi.

Fumio Tajima, stationmaster at Kasumigaseki Station’s Chiyoda Line platform, laid a wreath of lilies.

Of the 12 people who died, two were station workers at Kasumigaseki — Kazumasa Takahashi, 50, and Tsuneo Hishinuma, 51.

Hiroshi Araki, head of public relations at Aum, which renamed itself Aleph in January 2000, also laid flowers at the station.

“At the time of the incident, we seemed to have been only thinking of ourselves,” Araki said. “I am pained and can find no words.”

As in past years to mark the anniversary, special locations were set up for wreaths at Nakanosakue, Kodemmacho, Hatchobori, Tsukiji and Kamiyacho subway stations.

Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara has been on trial since 1995 in the Tokyo District Court on murder and other charges related to the attack. Prosecutors are scheduled to wrap up their argument against Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, on April 24.

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