Number of executions now equals that of Tokyo subway gas attack deaths.

Japan’s Ministry of Justice has announced that on the morning of July 26 six members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the organization behind the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack, were executed. As is customary in Japan, the method of execution was hanging.

Earlier this month, on July 6, Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara (born Chizuo Matsumoto) and six other members were executed, leading to speculation that the remaining death row cultists would also have their sentences carried out in rapid succession in the near future. The second round of hangings took place at three facilities, with 60-year-old Yasuo Hayashi executed at the Sendai Detention Center, Kazuaki Okasaki (57) and Masato Yokoyama (54) at the Nagoya Detention Center, and Satoru Hashimoto (51), Kenichi Hirose (54), and Toru Toyoda (50) at the Tokyo Detention Center.

In addition to the Tokyo sarin gas attack, which killed 13 and injured more than 6,000, Aum Shinrikyo was found to have been involved in a number of other homicides, including the home invasion murder of a Yokohama lawyer and a deadly gas attack in Matsumoto. Though the Tokyo attack occurred in 1995, Japanese law prevented any executions until any appeals by over 190 people indicted in connection with the incident were completed. That process took over two decades, but finally concluded in January of this year.

The six new executions make for a total of 13 Aum Shinrikyo members put to death, coincidentally the same number of people who were killed by the subway gas attack. No additional members of the cult are facing death sentences.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, NHK News Web
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