Anniversary of subway nerve gas attack observed

Japan Times/March 18, 1998

Memorial events were held March 20 to mark the third anniversary of the deadly Tokyo subway nerve gas attack, which key members of Aum Shinrikyo have been accused of carrying out.

Survivors and relatives of victims of the attack held news conferences in Tokyo in an effort to increase what they consider to be waning public awareness of their situation; many still suffer from the aftereffects of the gassing and complain of little official support.

Others submitted a petition to government offices in the Kasumigaseki district regarding the doomsday cult's ongoing bankruptcy procedures. At Kasumigaseki Station early March 20, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, along with Transport Minister Takao Fujii, laid flowers and delivered a eulogy for the victims of the March 20, 1995, nerve gas attack, which claimed 12 lives and injured thousands. "I understand that a lot of people are still hospitalized and receiving outpatient treatment,"

Hashimoto said. "This sort of thing must never happen again." Two subway employees were killed at the station.

At a station office on the Hibiya Line, about 20 employees offered a silent prayer at 8 a.m., the time the nerve gas was released on a number of subway lines. On the Chiyoda Line, subway officials put up memorial columns and flower stands in memory of Assistant Stationmasters Tsuneo Hishinuma, 51, and Kazumasa Takahashi, 50, who died in the attack. Subway workers placed flower stands at all the stations where their colleagues or commuters were killed. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department's Motofuji Station took to the street in an attempt to jog the public's memory over information on three Aum fugitives wanted in connection with the gassing.

Survivors and relatives of the dead visited the Justice Ministry, along with their lawyers, to submit a petition bearing some 30,000 signatures calling for administrative backup to give them priority in claiming Aum's assets as redress.


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