Following the execution of cult leader Shoko Asahara earlier this month as reported on by the Inquisitr, the final members of Aum Shinrikyo have been put to death as penance for their crimes against innocent Japanese civilians, according to the BBC.
On March 20, 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult released a nerve gas agent in the contained space of the Tokyo subway system. The results were horrifying, especially given that there was no prior warning or advance knowledge that such an attack could ever take place — urban terrorism being a fleeting notion during this time, particularly in Japan.
As a result of the terror attack committed by Aum Shinrikyo members, thousands of Japanese citizens of all ages were sickened with 13 succumbing to the poison entirely by losing their lives, according to CBS. Beyond this particular incident, it was later discovered by investigators that the cult was also likely responsible for a 1994 sarin gas attack that killed eight and sickened hundreds more.
Japan’s current Justice Minister, Yoko Kamikawa, gave her reasoning for ordering the hanging of the remaining cultists.
“The pain and anguish of the people who were killed and their families as well as of the survivors left with disabilities, was unimaginable.”
Those put to death earlier today include a number of cult members who directly participated in releasing the sarin gas in the mid-1990s that killed so many and injured many more, as well as a key Aum Shinrikyo recruiter.
The execution of all 12 cultists directly responsible for the act of domestic terrorism had been delayed following a moratorium on capital punishment as well as an appeals process that had dragged on for years.
The primary aim of the doomsday cult at the time was to overthrow the established government. Beginning in the 1980s, Aum Shinrikyo, meaning “supreme truth,” was founded. The group was a spiritualist one at first, blending Hindu, Buddhist, and apocalyptic Christian belief systems together under the guidance of founder Shoko Asahara. The BBC reports that Asahara declared himself to be the figure of Christ embodied, as well as the first truly “enlightened one” since Gautama Buddha.
The group gained many followers throughout the latter part of the 1980s and achieved officially recognized religious status by the Japanese state in 1989. For his part, Asahara attracted a huge following, speaking at universities and lecturing publicly as well as penning books and articles. During its apex of popularity, Aum Shinrikyo boasted tens of thousands of adherents worldwide.
Former members of the cult that had escaped the bonds of the doomsday ideology claim that they had paid large sums of money to participate in strange rituals involving Asahara’s hair and bathwater. One apostate of the cult claimed he paid $8,100 in 1988 for a “blood initiation” in which he drank the presumed blood of Asahara.
With these hangings having been undertaken, no known living members of the doomsday cult directly responsible for the attack on Tokyo’s subway system remain. The number of executions, despite the dark crimes of those who have been executed, has spurred renewed debate as to the nature of Japan’s justice system, according to The Japan Times.