On March 20th, 1995, a deadly poisonous gas, sarin was released on five different trains on the Tokyo subway system. As of March 2010, estimates goes up to total of 13 deaths, and over 6000 injured as a result of the incident. Not long after the incident, Shoko Asahara and his cult, Aum Shinrikyo was accused of the attack. Even to this day, the sarin attack still affect the Japanese Society, as it was the most disastrous terrorism to occur in Japan since the end of World War II in 1945.
Looking back at the news from 1995, and other works related to the Subway attack, it is hard for me to believe that it has already been 15 years since the whole thing occurred. Even though I was only 3 – 4 years old at the time, I remember hearing the name “Aum” on the news all the time. I did not know the what the deal was back then, but I somehow knew that it significantly impacted the society. It was not until recent years that I came to realize how traumatizing the incident would have been. Ironically enough, I have wrote a paper on this incident every year of my four years at Urbana High School, as I was given an assignment each year that fit the attack. And now I feel that I should look back at it one last time, as some of the criminals got away with the crime, as Japan used to have a 15 year statute of limitations for any crime where the criminal would receive the death penalty. This was renewed in 2005, as the statute of limitations was extended to 25 years, but only applied to crimes committed after the year 2005.
Shoko Asahara founded Aum in 1984, under the name Aum no Kai (Aum Club), as a one-room yoga class. Born to the name of Chizuo Matsumoto in 1951, and blind in one eye, Shoko Asahara was the fourth son of his family. He often had an ambition to be a leader, such as Prime Minister of Japan, which was never successful. After marrying woman named Tomoko in 1970, Chizuo established Matsumoto Acupuncture Clinic. Later, in 1984, he created Aum Inc, which was nothing more than a yoga class. However, through many supernatural experiences, Chizuo started to believe that he was the only one capable of saving the world, and changed his name to “Shoko Asahara.” The group name was changed to Aum Shinrikyo(Aum Supreme Truth) in 1987.
The year 1995 was already a hard time for Japanese citizen, as there was a major earthquake in Kobe on January of that year, and economy was still failing. Then, on 8:10 AM, March 20th, 1995, few Aum members released sarin on five different trains of the Tokyo Subway system. Total of 13 were killed, and over 6000 were injured. Survivors and witnesses described the scene as chaotic, or “hell itself.” However, at first, most who were infected did not care much, as they felt that they were just being sick; only very few were severely infected to the point were they lost consciousness. For those who were severely infected, some tried to help them, but most people ignored the issue.
Sarin is a odorless, colorless liquid that is used as a chemical weapon, and was first discovered in 1938, in Germany, by German scientists attempting to create stronger pesticides. It is the strongest of the G-agents made by Germany. Also, it was named after its discoverers: Schrader Ambros, Rüdiger and Van der Linde, and codenamedT-144 or Trilon-46. Sarin was classified as a weapon of mas destruction in UN Resolution 687. The nerve agent is extremely toxic, as it is estimated to be over 500 times more toxic than cyanide. Even at very low concentrations, sarin can be fatal, and even at non-lethal dosage, it could cause permanent neurological damage. Symptoms of exposure to sarin include runny nose, tightness in chest and constriction of pupils. Soon after, the victim will experience nausea, drooling, as well as difficulty breathing. The victim will continue to lose control over bodily functions, as they vomit, defecate, and urinate. Then, it is followed by twitching and jerking. Eventually, the victim will fall into a coma, and suffocate in series of convulsive spasm.
When sarin was released in a co-ordinated attack on five trains on the Tokyo subway system, five Aum members, Ikuo Hayashi, Kenichi Hirose, Toru Toyoda, Masato Yokoyama, and Yasuo Hayashi, released sarin, while five more, Tomomitsu Niini, Koichi Kitamura, Katsuya Takahashi, Kiyotaka Tonozaki, and Shigeo Sumimoto, served as get-away drivers. Each team carried chemical, liquid sarin, in a plastic bag, which was later wrapped in newspaper. Each perpetrator carried approximately 900 milliliters of sarin. Once the perpetrators boarded the assigned trains, each of them dropped the sarin packets and punctured the bag several times, using a sharpened tip of an umbrella. The men then got off the train, exited the station, then met up with their accomplice. Since the sarin packets were left, after being punctured, the liquid managed to leak out into the train, as well as the stations. Many passengers and subway workers were affected. Of the perpetrators, Ikuo Hayashi and Koichi Kitamura were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Tomomitsu Niimi, Masato Yokoyama, and Shigeo Sugimoto were sentenced to death.
After the attack, Aum lost its status as a religious organization. As of July 2004, eight Aum members have been sentenced to death, for their roles in the terrorism. The cult leader, Shoko Asahara was sentenced to death by hanging, on February 27th, 2004, and currently awaiting execution.

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