Japan marked the 26th anniversary Saturday of AUM Shinrikyo cult's sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 14 people and injured over 6,000 others, amid calls for tighter monitoring of its successor groups.
Officials of the subway operator, Tokyo Metro Co., and relatives of the victims observed a moment of silence at a memorial service at Kasumigaseki Station at 8 a.m., around the same time when the deadly sarin agent was scattered in train cars on March 20, 1995.
Two Tokyo Metro employees at the station were among the 14 killed in the terror attack. Shoko Asahara, the doomsday cult's founder and mastermind behind the crime, and 12 of his former followers were put to death in 2018.
After laying flowers, Shizue Takahashi, 74, who lost her husband Kazumasa, then deputy stationmaster at Kasumigaseki, said she would continue to pass on her memories of the terror posed by the cult.
"Time never heals the loneliness and sadness" she felt that day, said Takahashi, who heads a group of victims and their families.
Stands were set up for mourners to lay flowers at Kasumigaseki, Tsukiji and four other central Tokyo stations where the lives were claimed.
The attack simultaneously hit five train cars on three separate lines during the morning rush hour, causing havoc at the stations and the whole transport network in the capital.
Among victims who suffered from the after-effects of nerve gas exposure was Sachiko Asakawa, who died at 56 in March last year.
Ahead of the anniversary, the group met with Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa on Friday to request the government step up measures to keep the cult under control.
AUM Shinrikyo renamed itself Aleph in 2000. Together with the two other successor groups -- Hikarinowa or the Circle of Rainbow Light, and a smaller offshoot of Aleph -- the cult still has some 1,650 followers and remains under surveillance by public security authorities.
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