Blind and barely able to move, Sachiko Asakawa listened as her brother informed her on Nov. 21 that the last trial for Aum Shinrikyo's crimes had ended.
In a voice that has become increasingly inarticulate, Asakawa struggled but managed to utter to her brother: "That's good."
The trials may be over, but the physical and mental suffering continues for victims of the cult's crimes, including the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March 1995, which killed 13 and sickened more than 6,000.
Many continue to undergo medical examinations for the effects of the nerve gas, while signs of depression are becoming clearer.
And the multiple death sentences handed down to former senior Aum Shinrikyo members offer little solace for a number of the victims.
"(The conclusion of the last trial) is only a passing point," Asakawa's 51-year-old brother, Kazuo, said.
Asakawa, now 48, was on one of the Tokyo subway trains where cultists released the sarin. She spent eight and a half years in a hospital before returning to her family's home in a Tokyo suburb.
The sarin caused Asakawa to lose her eyesight and become physically disabled. She can now only eat rice gruel and food ground in a mixer.
Kazuo, other family members and helpers attend to her on a daily basis.
Asakawa used to hold her nephew in her arms. On March 11 this year, it was the nephew, 23, who carried Asakawa out of the home when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.
The government has paid about 3 billion yen ($39 million) in benefits to 6,074 victims of Aum Shinrikyo's rampage based on a relief law that took effect in 2008.
But Kazuo is worried who will take care of his sister in the future.
"(The payout) will not be enough for my sister to live alone," he said. "The perpetrators are guaranteed a minimum level of living (in detention houses and prisons)."
Kazuo holds great contempt for Aum Shinrikyo founder Chizuo Matsumoto, whose death sentence has been finalized. But he has a bit of sympathy for Matsumoto's lieutenants.
"(Matsumoto) may have taken advantage of their desperate hope in leaning on him," he said. "They must have once been proud children for their parents."
In November 2009, Asakawa sat in the Supreme Court gallery to observe the appeal process of Kenichi Hirose, convicted of murder by releasing sarin in Tokyo subways.
"Obaka (You idiot)," she said in a barely audible voice at a news conference after the top court upheld his death sentence.
Kazuo will likely have mixed feelings when Hirose is eventually hanged, saying he is not comfortable with the opinion that all Aum Shinrikyo members who committed crimes should be executed.
On Nov. 21, three groups working to support Aum Shinrikyo victims said 12 former senior members on death row should be spared to provide testimonies to prevent a recurrence of the cult's crimes. Matsumoto was not one of the 12.
Sarin causes eye disorders, such as spasms of the eyelids and constriction of the pupils, as well as physical disabilities, such as paralysis of limbs.
And 16 years after the attack, the horrors of that day have led to emotional problems that are hampering some victims' efforts to move on with their lives.
A woman in her 40s who was a victim of the Tokyo subway attack is one of them, according to a lawyer who has been supporting survivors.
When she told a staffing company in April that she was meeting a psychiatrist once a month, the company stopped introducing job openings to her, citing "health concerns."
The Recovery Support Center, a nonprofit organization, was set up in 2001 to conduct medical examinations once a year on victims of the Tokyo subway attack.
But the organization is funded by donations from the private sector. It receives no financial assistance from the central or local governments.
This year, 133 victims received medical examinations from October to November.
"Headaches and eye fatigue have become more serious even after more than 10 years have passed, and I also have nightmares," a 47-year-old woman said.
She said she has difficulties driving a car for many hours or working on a personal computer.
Sixty-seven percent of the 121 victims who received medical examinations last year said their eyes become tired easily. Sixty-percent said their vision is blurry, and 49 percent said they have difficulties focusing their eyes.
Forty-nine percent said their bodies become tired easily, and 43 percent said they do not have energy and feel depressed.
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