Japan executed the leader and six followers of a doomsday cult Friday, July 6, 2018, for a series of deadly crimes including a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people in 1995.
The reverberations in Japan of an internal religious cult that utilized terrorism and fear remains in the memory today, just like the brutal events of the Tokyo Sarin attack in 1995.
That attack, which involved a refrigerator truck releasing the gas to be dispersed by the wind through a neighbourhood, failed to kill the judges but killed eight other people and injured hundreds.
Shoko Asahara, the charismatic near-blind leader of the Aum Shinrikyo sect, had been on death row for more than 10 years for crimes including the nerve agent attack, which shocked the world and prompted a massive crackdown on the cult.
Thereby, the New Era, to be named next year, will not be blighted by the most terrifying terrorist attack that hit Japan during the Heisei Era.
A facility of Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult led by its guru Shoko Asahara in Kamikuishiki in Kamikucishiki, Japan.
Even before the attack, in 1989, lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who opposed the cult, his wife and baby boy were murdered by cult members.
In June 1994, the cult spread sarin gas in Matsumoto in central Japan, killing eight people and injuring more than 140 others, in an attack targeting residents who were protesting the cult's presence in their neighborhood and court officials handling their legal disputes.
Asahara was sentenced to death after a lengthy prosecution during which he regularly delivered rambling and incoherent monologues in English and Japanese.
Yuji Ogawara, who heads a lawyers' group against the death penalty at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said the executions do not bring closure to Aum's crimes.
The cult has since been renamed Aleph, with an estimated 2,000 members watched closely by authorities, according to the Associated Press. The sarin gas attack the cult carried out in Tokyo shattered Japan's sense of public safety. After the 1995 attack and arrests, the much-reduced cult went underground and eventually reimerged as a spinoff group called Adelph.
Hikari no Wa promotes itself as having broken away from Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Asahara.
At its peak, the group had 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 followers in Russian Federation, the Associated Press reports.
At a time when the global trend is toward abolishing capital punishment, Japan's death penalty system has sparked worldwide criticism, especially over the secrecy surrounding its executions, and prompted critics to push for its abolition.
Asahara was 63 years old.
They said his death could trigger the naming of a new cult leader, possibly his second son, and his followers could be elevated to the status of "martyrs" among the remaining adherents.
The cult claimed to have 10,000 members in Japan and 30,000 in Russian Federation but has disbanded.