Mastermind behind 1995 Japan sarin-gas attack executed

Shoko Asahara whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto

Recounting how the doomsday cult attracted educated youths, Tadashi Moriyama, a Takushoku University professor, said he feels that "it was not fully revealed at the trial or among researchers why many highly educated people or those with high social status were involved in the crimes". Therefore, with all legal appeals of other death row inmates being exhausted, then now is a time to close the book on this awful event while never forgetting.

With their deaths, Japan will now have to grapple with the aftermath of unanswered questions over the crimes - with no longer any chance of hearing explanations directly from Asahara or the six others.

Japan's justice minister, who approved the hangings, said she doesn't take executions lightly but felt they were justified in this case because of the unprecedentedly seriousness of the crimes.

Asahara guided the attack, according to testimony by his right-hand man, Yoshihiro Inoue, who also was executed Friday.

Since an effective moratorium ended in 2010, Japan has executed as many as eight people a year. "However, the death penalty is never the answer", said Hiroka Shoji, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

Kamikawa said that capital punishment is "unavoidable" for such heinous crimes.

Japanese doomsday cult leader Shoko Asahara (center) sits in a police van following an interrogation in Tokyo on September 25, 1995.

Shoko Asahara was hanged Friday morning for masterminding a series of deadly crimes including a 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

Matsumoto insisted he did not instruct his followers to carry out the attacks.

13 people died in the attack, and more than 6,000 were made sick.

She said the crime affected not only Japan but also sowed fear overseas.

"The time has come".

"A third of my life has been affected by AUM".

"When I heard the news, I reacted calmly".

The Public Security Intelligence Agency on the same day inspected Aleph offices and other related sites nationwide.

Under intensifying scrutiny from the government, the cult plotted the larger sarin attack on the subways in Tokyo on March 20, 1995.

Asahara, whose original name was Chizuo Matsumoto, founded Aum Shinrikyo in 1984.

Despite the horror that persists over the Aum's subway attack and other crimes, some experts had warned against the execution of Asahara and his acolytes.

Executions are rare in Japan but surveys show most people support the death sentence.

On 16 May, Shoko Asahara was finally arrested.

Japan forgoes executing death row inmates if an accomplice is still on trial. But during his 2004 sentencing the Tokyo District Court said he deserved ultimate condemnation as the mastermind.

Two days after the attack police raided the compounds of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

"I've been in pain for years", he told AFP.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency's analysis is that all three groups are still under the influence of Matsumoto and continue to have unsafe characteristics. The followers of the three groups total about 1,650 in Japan and about 460 in Russian Federation, while the groups hold more than 1 billion yen ($9 million) in assets, according to the agency.

Many of Asahara's followers were highly educated scientists and engineers, who helped bring in huge amounts of money to the cult's coffers.

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