Three years after the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, the prosecution of high-level Aum Shinrikyo religious cult leaders – including cult founder Shoko Asahara – continues. Press reports indicate that, if it maintains its current sluggish pace, the trial could take 30 years to complete. Japanese security officials reported a rise in Aum Shinrikyo membership and business activity in 1998, despite a severe police crackdown on the group following the sarin attack. The United States designated Aum Shinrikyo a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
On 3 June the highest criminal court in Lebanon rejected an appeal made by five convicted Japanese Red Army members and endorsed their three-year prison sentence for forgery and illegal residency. Tokyo has asked that they be deported to Japan upon completion of their jail terms.