Japan Executes Last Doomsday Cult Members on Death Row

July 26, 2018 Updated: July 26, 2018

TOKYO—Japan executed six more members of the doomsday cult group Aum Shinrikyo on Thursday that perpetrated the deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, public broadcaster NHK said.

All 13 members of the cult that were on death row have now been executed, after Chizuo Matsumoto, the cult’s former leader who went by the name Shoko Asahara, and six other members of the group were hanged on July 6.

Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 25, 1995. (Kyodo/via Reuters)
In this handout from the Japanese Defence Agency, personnel of the Self Defence Agency are seen clearing Sarin off platforms after the 1995 Sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subways. (Japanese Defence Agency/Getty Images)

Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa announced the executions at a news conference on Thursday.

Kamikawa repeatedly said the executions were carried out after careful deliberation and in consideration of the fear, pain and sadness inflicted on many of the victims of the cult’s crimes. She added that Japan is not ready to abolish the death penalty despite overseas pressure.

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. The main attack on Tokyo killed 13 people and injured at least 5,800 people, shattering the nation’s myth of public safety. Sarin, a nerve gas, was originally developed by the Nazis.

This picture taken on March 20, 1995 shows fire department officers moving into Kasumigaseki subway station following a sarin gas attack by doomsday cult Aum Supreme Truth (Aum Shinrikyo) in Tokyo. (Jiji press/AFP/Getty Images)

By Kaori Kaneko