Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Japan remembers subway gas attack


Subway officers yesterday offer silent prayers for the victims of the 1995 deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo.

Photo: AFP

Japan yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of coordinated attacks on the Tokyo subway system when a doomsday cult released a Nazi-developed nerve gas on packed trains, killing 13 people and injuring 6,000.

At Kasumigaseki, one of the hardest hit subway stations, staff and relatives of some of those who died in the biggest attack on post-World War II Japan, fell silent at 8am to remember those who died and those still affected.

“Twenty years have passed, but I think the victims are still suffering,” said Fumiko Suzuki, who was there to pay tribute to a friend made ill by the invisible clouds of sarin that spread through rush-hour trains. “We should not forget about the attack.”

Thirteen members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult remain on death row for their part in the March 20, 1995, terror and for other murders and kidnappings the group carried out.

Cult leader Shoko Asahara was convicted of ordering five teams of followers to dump packets of sarin on trains, puncturing them with the sharpened tip of an umbrella.

Thousands of commuters were unknowingly exposed to the colorless, odorless nerve gas, which even in low doses can cause paralysis of the lungs and neurological damage.

Some died almost instantly, while others suffered gradually worsening symptoms.

More than 6,000 people were treated in hospital after having inhaled sarin — an agent developed in Nazi Germany and used by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in Iraq.

Kasumigaseki station master Mitsuaki Ota led tributes to Tokyo subway worker Kazumasa Takahashi who unknowingly picked up a punctured packet of the nerve gas from the floor of one of the trains.

He and another colleague died.

“I’d like to offer my deep condolences to those who died, and I’m praying from the bottom of my heart for the quick recovery of those who are still suffering,” Ota said.

Takahashi’s widow, Shizue, told reporters at the scene that the 20th anniversary of the attack should serve as a wake-up call over the risk of terrorism.

“It’s possible we’ll face the danger of terror attacks. I want [Japanese people] to be more aware,” she said after laying a flower on a makeshift altar.

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