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13 were sentenced to death.

Asahara was one of seven members of the cult hanged this week.

Inoue, who was among the transferred seven, filed for a retrial at the time.

Since an effective moratorium ended in 2010, Japan has executed as many as eight people a year.

He "lured young people, who felt a sense of emptiness in Japanese society", she said.

Aum Shinrikyo killed a total of 27 people at its height. He is the first of 13 people set to be hanged for the attack.

The former leader of the Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) doomsday cult and several of its members were executed on Friday. The attack, which failed, used a refrigerator truck to release the gas and a wind dispersed it in a residential neighbourhood, killing eight and injuring hundreds.

"The time has come".

The attack in 1995 woke up a relatively safe country to the risk of urban terrorism.

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

"I reacted calmly. But I did feel the world had become slightly brighter", said Atsushi Sakahara, a film director who was injured in the sarin attack at Tokyo's Roppongi station.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said only that the Justice Ministry would make an announcement later Friday.

The top Japanese government spokesman confirmed Asahara's execution but wouldn't comment on the others.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency on the same day inspected Aleph offices and other related sites nationwide. As trials of cult members began taking place, numerous crimes were confessed to by members, including the production of VX nerve gas, attempts to manufacture automatic weapons, kidnapping, chemical attacks, and the murder of people deemed to threaten the cult. The cult's activities in various parts of Japan sparked anxiety years after the sarin gas attack.

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.

There has been strong public support for the Aum convicts to be put to death.

It is extremely complex to label the religious fundamentals of Aum Shinrikyo.

The following are brief descriptions of three major acts of violence by the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult.

Japanese authorities said they were on alert for potential retaliation after the executions and local media reported police were visiting groups linked to the Aum and successor cults.

"The fear, pain and sorrow of the victims, survivors and their families - because of the heinous cult crimes - must have been so severe, and that is beyond my imagination", Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told a news conference.


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