Japan, victim families long waiting execution of cult leader

Shoko Asahara whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto

"Their death penalties had been finalized after sufficient deliberations at courts", Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a press conference in the afternoon, adding that she made careful considerations before ordering the executions on Tuesday.

Asahara had been on death row for masterminding a deadly 1995 Tokyo subway gas attack and other crimes. 13 were sentenced to death.

Asahara guided the attack, according to testimony by his right-hand man, Yoshihiro Inoue, who also was executed Friday. "However, the death penalty is never the answer", said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

He "lured young people, who felt a sense of emptiness in Japanese society", she said.

It goes without saying that the other six members of Aum Shinrikyo will equally face the same fate in the near future.

The executions Friday of a doomsday cult leader and six of his followers closed a chapter on one of Japan's most shocking crimes, the poison gas attack on rush-hour commuters in Tokyo's subway that killed 13 people and sickened more than 6,000.

On March 20, 1995, members of the cult left punctured bags filled with liquid nerve agent on train lines going through Tokyo's political district. The attack killed 13 people and injured 5,500.

Sources say that for the past several years, Matsumoto refused to meet his family members or lawyers. Victims, families and their supporters, as well as those involved in the legal system believe it is necessary to come to terms with the crimes and draw lessons from them to avoid a similar incident happening again.

She said the crime affected not only Japan but also sowed fear overseas.

He masterminded a horrific attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, where his cultists released sarin gas inside a packed train.

"A third of my life has been affected by AUM".

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"When I heard the news, I reacted calmly".

A Japanese government spokesman confirmed the execution of Asahara.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency on the same day inspected Aleph offices and other related sites nationwide.

Asahara and dozens of his followers were arrested in the months that followed, after police raids across the country.

Japan forgoes executing death row inmates if an accomplice is still on trial.

The executions were a long time coming, but they were expected as the last trial in the case had been completed and some of the condemned convicts had been transferred to other prisons earlier this year.

It is extremely complex to label the religious fundamentals of Aum Shinrikyo.

As the cult grew, the families of members began to raise the alarm, and complaints of brainwashing and abuse within Aum Shinrikyo became more common.

Japanese authorities said they were on alert for potential retaliation after the executions and local media reported police were visiting groups linked to the Aum and successor cults.

"I've been in pain for years".

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