March 20 will mark the 19th anniversary of the toxic nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by members of the Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) doomsday cult. That attack, which shook Japanese society to its very foundations, resulted in 13 deaths and thousands of injuries. Thirteen high-ranking Aum members, including its founder, Chizuo Matsumoto (aka Shoko Asahara), currently await execution on death row for their crimes.
Aum’s name was back in the news recently. Nikkan Gendai (Jan. 13) reported that former members of the cult may have been planning a caper to spring three condemned members — Tomomasa Nakagawa, Yoshihiro Inoue and Yasuo Koike — from captivity while they were being driven between the Tokyo Detention House in Kosuge, Katsushika Ward, and the Tokyo District Court in Kasumigaseki to testify at the trial of their former cohort Makoto Hirata. Hirata, 48, turned himself in to the police on New Year’s Eve 2011 after 16 years on the lam. He has been implicated in several murders.