View Full Version : Aum's lingering legacy

Feb 26, 2004, 16:05
BBC News : Aum's lingering legacy (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3513617.stm)

On a sunny morning in March 1995, a secretive group called Aum Shinrikyo quietly released bags of liquefied sarin gas on the Tokyo underground. Twelve people were killed, thousands were sickened, and Japan's image as a bastion of safety was shattered.
Nearly nine years later, Shoko Asahara, the leader of the group, is on Friday due to hear his verdict. Charged with masterminding a series of violent crimes, including two deadly nerve gas attacks, the partially blind guru faces the death penalty if found guilty.

What is less clear is the scale of the threat Aum, and some of the country's other quasi-religious groups, continue to pose to Japan.

Mr Asahara set up a small religious sect in Tokyo in 1984 and renamed it Aum Shinrikyo in 1987. It espoused a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and the writings of Nostradamus.

Members of the cult, who had not demonstrated violent tendencies before they joined Aum, were fed a diet of violent apocalyptic teachings.

"Most of them had very few rebellious periods in their teens... They were from good stable households and were normal kids," Taro Takimoto, a lawyer whose fight against Aum nearly lost him his life at the hands of the cult, told BBC News Online.

Ironically it seems likely their backgrounds made them more vulnerable to the charismatic Mr Asahara's power.

"Many of them were naive about the corrupted nature of some people in society... they joined Aum with the true belief that they were going to make the world a better place," Mr Takimoto said.

"The threat that Aum poses today hasn't changed since the [sarin] attacks on Matsumoto and Tokyo"

Japanese government

Isn't it incredible that this sect still exists after what happened, even when Japanese authorities admit that the threat that it poses hasn't changed. :(