Aftermath of Aum Shinrikyo Sarin Attack, conviction of perpetrators
The sarin attack was the most serious attack upon Japan since the United States' bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. It caused massive disruption and widespread fear in a society that had previously been perceived as virtually free of crime.
Shortly after the attack, Aum lost its status as a religious organization, and many of its assets were seized. The Diet (Japanese parliament) rejected a request from government officials to outlaw the group. The National Public Safety Commission received increased funding to monitor the group. In 1999, the Diet gave the commission broad powers to monitor and curtail the activities of groups that have been involved in "indiscriminate mass murder" and whose leaders are "holding strong sway over their members", a bill custom-tailored to Aum Shinrikyo.
Asahara was sentenced to death by hanging on 27 February 2004, but lawyers immediately appealed the ruling. The Tokyo High Court postponed its decision on the appeal until results were obtained from a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, which was issued to determine whether Asahara was fit to stand trial. In February 2006, the court ruled that Asahara was indeed fit to stand trial, and on 27 March 2006, rejected the appeal against his death sentence. Japan's Supreme Court upheld this decision on 15 September 2006. Two re-trial appeals were declined by the appellate court. In June 2012, Asahara's execution was postponed due to the further arrests of the two remaining Aum Shinrikyo members wanted in connection with the attack. Asahara is currently awaiting his death sentence. (Japan does not announce dates of executions, which are by hanging, in advance of them being carried out.)
On 27 November 2004, all the Aum trials concluded, excluding Asahara's, as the death sentence of Seiichi Endo was upheld by Japan's Supreme Court. As a result, among a total of 189 members indicted, 13 were sentenced to death, five were sentenced to life in prison, 80 were given prison sentences of various lengths, 87 received suspended sentences, two were fined, and one was found not guilty. In May and June 2012, the last two of the fugitives wanted in connection with the attack were arrested in the Tokyo and Kanagawa area. Of them, Katsuya Takahashi was taken into custody by police near a comic book cafe in Tokyo.
The group reportedly still has about 2,100 members, and continues to recruit new members under the name "Aleph" as well as other names. Though the group has renounced its violent past, it still continues to follow Asahara's spiritual teachings. Members operate several businesses, though boycotts of known Aleph-related businesses, in addition to searches, confiscations of possible evidence and picketing by protest groups, have resulted in closures.