Victims say 2,500 still suffer from sarin aftereffects


Kyodo/March 20, 1999

TOKYO -- Survivors and families of those killed in the 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by the AUM Shinrikyo cult said Saturday some 2,500 people still suffer from aftereffects of the gassing.

Shizue Takahashi, 52, leader of a victims' group who lost her husband Kazumasa in the deadly gassing, told reporters that many of the sarin attack survivors are still concerned about their health four years after the incident.

Citing the findings of a survey conducted by the group and the National Police Agency, Takahashi and others pointed to the lasting psychological scars the attack left on its victims.

"Some people see a psychiatrist once a week and others become uneasy when the anniversary of the gassing nears," they said.

They also expressed victims' wishes for an early conclusion of the trials in the case and dissolution of the AUM cult.

A 44-year-old man, who complained of sore eyes, urged the government to continue to investigate the physical and psychological harm done to survivors.

At 8 a.m. -- the time the lethal gas was released -- subway workers and representatives of the victims offered a 30-second silent prayer for the souls of the victims and laid flowers in their memory in a ceremony held at Kasumigaseki Station.

White chrysanthemums adorned an altar set up for the station's two subway workers -- Kazumasa, 50, and deputy station master Tsuneo Hishinuma, 51 -- who were killed in the attack.

Altars and flower stands were also set up at five other subway stations in central Tokyo -- including Tsukiji, Hatchobori and Kamiyacho -- where people were killed or seriously injured in the attacks.

The sarin attack killed 12 people and injured more than 5,300 others.

AUM leader Shoko Asahara and other former senior members of the religious cult have been arrested and are on trial for alleged involvement in the release of the nerve gas in trains on five subway lines.

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