Japan’s final sarin gas trial unlikely to bring closure
Julian Ryall’s story “Japan’s final sarin gas trial unlikely to bring closure,“ The
Telegraph, 16 January 2015
Almost 20 years have passed since the Aum Shinrikyo cult released sarin nerve
gas in the Tokyo subway system during the rush hour commute. The last trial of a
member of the cult will finally conclude the trials on this cults attack on the Japanese
public. When the last trial is done and over, the executions will begin.
To give some context for people who are not aware of the Aum Shinrikyo cult,
the founder is Shoko Asahara, who proclaimed he was a reincarnation of the Christ.
Asahara founded the cult in 1984; 11 years before the sarin gas attacks took place. Eleven
followers of Asahara are to be executed after the last trial ends. The Aum Shinrikyo cult
is listed as a terrorist organization by several countries. The sarin nerve gas attack took
place on March 20th, 1995, with more than 6000 people hospitalized and 13 commuters
and station staff dead.
The last follower to make an appearance in court is Katsuya Takahashi, who has
been on the run for 16 plus years. Takahashi is charged with murder for being involved in
the gas attack. The trial is expected to last until April, and the prosecutors have indicated
that they will call least three members of the cult to give a testimony.
Many feel that this will bring closure for people who have been directly affected.
Jun Okumura, a visiting scholar at the Meiji Institute for global affairs said that the
legacy of the attack would linger on both physically and in security arrangements to the
Tokyo transit system. Similar to the attacks in New York City on September 11th, after
these attacks in Tokyo, transit has taken drastic measures to increasing security, so
something like this won’t happen again.
The doctrines of this cult are interestingly as they take from many other religious
traditions and ways of thought, mainly cite that Christianity as the core of these Religious
traditions. The cult leader said that he was the reincarnation of the Christ and cites the
book of revelation as an important part of his doctrines, but in my opinion this system of
thought just cherry picks verses and sayings from the Bible to help justify his doctrines of
xenophobia (against the United States in particular) and leader worship. Various online
users from Japanese twitter and forums when discussing this cult usually cite Aum
Shinrikyo as a Japanese Manson family. One reason for comparison, both have
charismatic leaders who first gain their followers trust and later incite violence onto
outsiders who do not follow their doctrines. My opinion is that this cult, is a thinly veiled
terror organization, with touches of Christianity, Yoga, and Nostradamus, to give it
enough credit as a new religion, to help bring in followers, who are seeking spiritual
guidance, and later use them for violence.
The last trial of the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack, will in my opinion, bring
some closure for some individuals and their families, but like any traumatic event this
will be very much in the minds of who were directly or indirectly affected.