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Cannot publicly oppose death penalty for sarin gas attackers, says Haruki Murakami

The reclusive Japanese writer made the rare comment in an article in the Mainichi daily today, just days after Japan executed the last members of the Aum Shinrikyo members on death row.


PTI 29 Jul 2018, 02:03 PM

Bestselling author Haruki Murakami says he cannot publicly oppose the hanging of the sarin gas attackers despite his objections to the death penalty, but Japan should not use the case as a pretext for sticking to capital punishment.

The reclusive Japanese writer made the rare comment in an article in the Mainichi daily today, just days after Japan executed the last members of the Aum Shinrikyo members on death row.

Murakami said on the newspaper's English-language website that "as a general argument" he opposes capital punishment.

But having interviewed those who suffered and lost loved ones for his book 'Underground' on the 1995 sarin subway attack, he wrote, "I cannot publicly state, as far as this case is concerned, 'I am opposed to death penalty'."

Yet Murakami said the Aum-related cases did not come to a close with the latest executions.

"If there was any intention of 'bringing a closure to those cases,' or an ulterior motive of making the institution called the death penalty a more permanent one by using this opportunity, that is wrong, and the existence of such a strategy must never be allowed," he said.

Murakami said he was in the courtroom when the death sentence was handed down to one of the 13.

The shock made him feel "as if a blunt weight was inside my chest" for the following days.

Hearing news of the Aum executions, "I similarly feel the existence of that weight in my chest", he said.

On July 6 Japan hanged the Aum guru and six former senior disciples for their involvement in the attack on the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people, left others with lifetime injuries and plunged the capital into chaos.

The authorities sent six other former followers to the gallows last week for the sarin attack and other crimes, completing the execution of all 13 Aum death-row inmates.

The executions brought criticism from rights groups and the European Union. But Japanese authorities are unwavering on maintaining capital punishment, which enjoys overwhelming public support.

According to public security officials, Aum successor groups still have around 1,650 members in Japan and hundreds more in Russia.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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