Currents in Japanese Religions, March 2010
TV research team, Center for Information on Religion
Checking the head lines news in Japan during March, one can see that there is a lot of media focus on the incidents perpetrated by Aum Shinri-kyo.
Fifteen years have passed since Aum Shinri-kyo released sarin gas in the crowded Tokyo subway network on March 20th, 1995. Subsequently, the Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo began an investigation of Aum Shinri-kyo, which resulted in a criminal conviction. The investigation also shed light on other criminal acts that Aum had been involved in and was planning to carry out.
The court proceedings have already rendered judgments in some in regard to some of the incidents, but decisions in regard to others are still pending. For example a case involving the shooting of the head the Metropolitan Police Department, which happened ten days after the sarin incident, has not yet reached a conclusion. There is suspicion that this attack was related to the Aum incident, but this is unclear and the case was still under investigation when the statute of limitations expired on March 30th 2010.
As a result of the criminal convictions of the leader Shouko Asahara (Chizuo Matsumoto) and of other members Aum was disbanded by court order. For a short time their activities did seem to cease, but certain members of the group continued to remain active in various ways, eventually changing the name of the group from Aum to Aleph in 2000. Disbanding Aum is not perfect solution for the series of incidents because it does not improve the bad reputation of it and offer no way to rehabilitate for the enthusiastic practitioner of it.
Chizuo Matsumoto along with certain other members was sentenced to death. But many aspects of their activities, criminal and other have not been fully clarified or resolved. Chizuo Matsumoto remained completely silent during the court proceedings, which added a mysterious aura to the case.
15 years have passed, but the crimes still are still vivid in people’s memories. People, especially survivor of the incidents, still want to know why that terrible incident happened.
For your References:
Drama: March 20, CX, "Struggling 15 years for life since Tokyo Subway Gas Attack – What happened on the very day in Kasumigaseki."
News: NHK, March 22, "!5 years since Tokyo Subway Gas Attack – fear and hope of the neighbors in consideration of the memory," in Ohayo Nippon.
News: NHK, March 30, "the expiration of the investigation for the shooting of the head the Metropolitan Police Department," in Ohayo Nippon.
For further reading:
Robert J. Kisala and Mark R.Mullins,eds., Religion and Social Crisis in Japan: Understanding Japanese Society through the Aum Affair, Palgrave, 2001.