On anniversary of Japanese subway attack, many fear cult resurgence
March 20, 1999
TOKYO (CNN) -- Four years after a deadly nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, subway workers held a solemn ceremony to mark the anniversary at Kasumigaseki Station in central Tokyo.
Two subway workers died there on March 20, 1995, when trying to remove a bag containing the nerve gas sarin from a morning rush hour commuter train.
Now, as Japan marks the anniversary, new fears have surfaced about a resurgence of the doomsday cult which was responsible for the attack.
Victims of the gas attack, which killed 12 people and made 5,300 ill, have submitted a petition to the government asking it to monitor the health and mental condition of those stricken in the incident and to keep a close eye on the Aum Shinri Kyo cult.
The victims also pressed demands for full compensation, saying they had been compensated for only 20 percent of the claims lodged against the cult.
Leaders of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult are on trial for crimes including the subway attack. The cult's guru, Shoko Asahara, has been indicted on 17 counts and is on trial for charges that include murder and attempted murder.
In December, Japan's Public Security Investigation Agency warned in its annual security review that the cult was working to boost its membership and coffers.
"Aum is attempting to re-enlist former members and step up recruiting of new members nationwide. It is also initiating advertising campaigns and acquiring necessary capital," the report said.
They said the most pressing concern about Aum was the group's acquisition of real estate.
"This is a commune-based cult, and once they're in their own space they aren't ruled by Japanese laws, but Asahara's laws. And they see no reason to obey Japanese laws," one official said.
The cult has Internet pages that get as many as 1,000 hits a day, security officials said earlier this year.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Japan marks subway attack anniversary, worries about cult
Public Security Investigation Agency (in Japanese)
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