Japan commemorates sarin gas attacks

Japan commemorated the 16th anniversary of the deadly sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on Sunday with a moment of silence at 8 a.m., the same time that the attacks occurred.

The attack occurred on March 20, 1995, and was perpetrated by members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, now called Aleph, UPI reports.

Employees of the Tokyo Metro Co. observed the silence in honor of the 13 people who were killed during the attack and the more than 6,000 others who became ill.

The gas was released at five stations on three central Tokyo subway lines.

“There are still victims who are bedridden and under treatment,” Shizue Takahashi, the 64-year-old widow of a worker who was killed in the attacks at Kasumigaseki Station, said, according to UPI. “Please do not forget about us.”

In early March, Masumi Tsuchiya was the 11th member of Aum to be sentenced to death. Chizuo Matsumoto, the founder of the cult, is on death row for overseeing crimes that include the sarin gas attacks, the Kyodo News reports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin is a human-made chemical agent that affects the nervous system. It works similarly to certain types of pesticides called organophosphates, though sarin is much more potent. Exposure to large doses can cause convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure leading to death.