Japan executes 6 more members of doomsday cult

This file photo taken on March 20, 1995 shows a commuter being treated by an emergency medical team after being exposed to sarin gas fumes in the Tokyo subway system.
This file photo taken on March 20, 1995 shows a commuter being treated by an emergency medical team after being exposed to sarin gas fumes in the Tokyo subway system. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (NYTIMES) - Japan on Thursday (July 26) executed all six former members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult who remained on death row after the execution of the group’s founder and six other members earlier this month, Japan’s Justice Ministry said. 

The six – Satoru Hashimoto, Toru Toyoda, Kenichi Hirose, Yasuo Hayashi, Masato Yokoyama and Kazuaki Okazaki – were convicted of involvement in one or more of three crimes: the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, another sarin attack in Nagano prefecture in 1994, and the murders of a lawyer, his wife and their baby son in 1989. 

“After 20 years of investigation, the execution is adequate – although some people say we should hear more from them” in terms of contrition, said Mr Masaharu Yamada, a former police officer who investigated the attacks by the group. 

“Taking into account the agony and sorrow of victims and their families, it may be too late.” 

The executions came nearly three weeks after officials carried out death sentences against Shoko Asahara, the group’s mastermind, and six of his former followers. 

The three attacks, which the courts said were committed to further Asahara’s bid to “control Japan in the name of salvation”, caused the deaths of 29 people. 

The most notorious case, the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, killed 13 people and injured thousands, making it the largest attack in Japan since World War II. 

Japan remains one of the few developed countries to maintain the use of capital punishment for murders by hanging. 

Inmates and family members are only notified of the execution on the day it is carried out. 

Despite international condemnation, public support for the death penalty remains high in Japan.