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Japan executes Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult leader and several followers
07 July 2018, 04:07 | Erica Roy
Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara had been on death row for masterminding the 1995 deadly Tokyo subway gassing and other crimes
The leader of the Japanese doomsday cult that carried out a deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway was executed on Friday along with six of his followers, decades after the shocking crime.
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 Tokyo subway trains during rush hour on March 20, 1995.
Shoko Asahara, who masterminded the attack in which 13 people died and more than 6,000 others fell ill, was hanged at a detention centre, reports said, citing justice ministry sources. Twelve of them, not including Matsumoto, who were involved in any of the three major incidents - the Sakamotos' murder and the sarin attacks in Nagano and Tokyo - had their death sentences finalized by the Supreme Court over a period from May 2005 to December 2011.
As a result, The Japan Times notes that the cult leader's death "leaves several critical questions unanswered, because even during his trial, Asahara never explained the actual motivations for the crimes". I wanted experts to ask them questions.
Some people argue that Aum Shinrikyo and spinoff cultsremain risky, so its imprisoned members should be kept alive and grilled for information.
Joyu said he first learned about the executions of Aum founder Shoko Asahara and six other condemned cult members during a telephone call Friday morning from an acquaintance.
Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken on September 25, 1995.
Half-blind, with a shaggy hair and beard, Asahara was the key figure in the stunningly random and lethal attack targeting Tokyo commuters.
He "lured young people, who felt a sense of emptiness in Japanese society", she said.
Scores of Aum members have faced trial over the attack - 13 were sentenced to death, including Asahara.
Cult scientist began testing sarin at a sheep farm in rural Western Australia while others launched a failed attempt to manufacture automatic rifles.
Japanese executions take place without any further warning.
Virtually every aspect of Aum Shinrikyo's crimes and the prosecution has been the subject of deep controversy in Japan over the years.
The trains were scheduled to arrive at central Kasumigaseki station within four minutes of each other, and the cult hoped not only to kill everyone on board, but also use the trains to deliver the gas to a massive interchange used by thousands of passengers at a time.
In all, 12 followers had been on death row with Asahara for the crimes, which killed 27 people. By 2006, he had exhausted the appeals process.
The religion persists and has since split into the renamed Aleph and Hikari no Wa groups.
At its peak, the cult had at least 10,000 members in Japan and overseas, including graduates of some of Japan's most elite universities.
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