UR@|pê|AUM Shinrikyo at Present-June 2, 2008
AUM Shinrikyo at Present
by Taro TAKIMOTO, Attorney at Law
Even after May of 1995 i.e. after the
arrest of the guru Asahara, AUM Shinrikyo has been staying active as it continuously
breaking itself into several factions.
Some of the members are live-in communal disciples who have committed
their full submission to the guru, and some are lay followers who have their
own jobs outside the religious group.
The number of live-in disciples has decreased from 3,000 in 1995 to
approx. 340, while the number of lay followers also has decreased from 15,000
to approx. 1,000, in total of all factions. Majority of the remaining AUM followers are
those who have been AUM devotees since before the sarin gas attack on the
There is a number of pending criminal trials of those arrested leading AUM members from the past. At the same time, there also are a number of pending criminal trials of current members for charges such as violation of Pharmaceutical Law, fraud, and violation of Worker Dispatch Law.
Although the petition for winding-up order in accordance with Subversive Activities Prevention Law has been dismissed, AUM and its offshoots have been under governmental surveillance in accordance with newly enacted law: the Act Regarding the Control of Organizations Which Committed Indiscriminate Mass Murder. In addition, bankruptcy of AUM has been adjudicated. Distribution in bankruptcy has been approximately 40% for those physical victims of AUM with added payments by current AUM followers. The bankruptcy procedure is expected to be terminated in 2008. A the same time, a new law to allow indemnification of ca. 20% of the victimsf receivables by the government is expected to be enacted by June, 2008.
II Time-serial Overview of Events since March, 1995
Mar., 1995 – Asahara and senior members were arrested.
to see Asahara at detention was continued.
Dec., 1995 Public Security Investigation Agency filed a request for application of Subversive Activities Prevention Law.
June, 1996 Asaharafs first and the second sons (3 and 2 years old) became the leaders/guru of AUM, and their elder sisters began to preach and run ascetic trainings.
Jan. 31, 1997 Public Security Examination Commission rejected application of winding-up order under Subversive Activities Prevention Law.
Up until this time, Asahara had been issuing commands and instructions to his followers from behind prison walls.
Apr., 1999 Ostracism against AUM by the public and local governments began to grow. Local governments formed gLiaison Conference of Municipalities for Measures Against AUM.h
made an appeal of revival through performances on the streets of bustling
downtown areas in
Sep., 1999 AUM declared its dormancy.
The special law (i) enabled exaction of reparations from the corporationfs post-bankruptcy assets. The act (ii) effectuated the administrative dispositions of governmental surveillance and recurrence prevention i.e. 6-month total prohibition of activities is enforced in case of any untrue reporting of the groupfs activities.
Dec., 1999 Fumihiro Joyu left prison.
Jan., 2000 Joyu proposed replacement of the name gAUMh with a new one. (Please refer to Sec. VII below.)
Jan., 2000 Asaharafs daughters together with followers were arrested for forcefully seizing their younger brothers (Asaharafs sons). The sons were taken into custody by a child consultation office for a few months. The sons were not considered as the leaders/guru of the group any more. Family members of Asahara continued to be attended by Asaharafs followers, though they had left AUM prima facie.
Around this time, Ninomiya group began to show its growing independence.
Jan.. 2002 Fumihiro Joyu became the leader of Aleph (AUM).
Oct., 2002 Asaharafs wife left prison, and began to engage in the operation/management of Aleph (AUM).
Feb, 2003 Aleph (AUM) changed its name to Religious Group Ahleph.
III Guru Asahara in the Criminal Court
Asahara made religious statements in his first public trial in April, 1996. After his former followers made statements against his interest, he began to interrupt testimonies by witnesses.
In his plea in the public trial at the time of replacement of the judges, he denied his involvement in all charges of all cases except for one, while he admitted involvement of AUM in the cases.
Later, he began to refuse to see his defense counsel because the defense counsel did not make statements exactly as Asahara had asserted. The defense counsel claimed to the court that the defendant Asahara lacks ability to communicate with the defense counsel and that he lacks competency to stand trial, and did not file required documents to the court.
As the result, the death sentence of
Asahara became definitive on
In his inquisition to determine application of Subversive Activities Prevention Law, Asahara was making religious and delusional obsessions in a self indulgent manner.
Access to Asahara has been barred besides members of his family and his defense counsel. Asahara has been refusing to meet with them. After the fall of 2005, one of the groupfs live-in followers become an attorney at law, and visited Asahara at prison by himself.
IV Other Defendants and Discharged Prisoners
12 AUM members have been sentenced to die, and 5 members have been sentenced indefinite prison terms. Although most of these judgments have not become definitive besides a few, the Supreme Court may uphold all of the death sentences. Majority of the defendants have psychologically left AUM /Asahara, and have been writing letters to remaining members to help them leave the group. There remain three escaped criminal suspects placed on the wanted list.
Several dozens of arrestees of non-minor charges have already left prison, and some of them have returned to the group.
V Members of the Gurufs Family
The guru has six children with his lawful wife. Four of them are living on the income contributed by the group as well as 10+ followers who ostensibly have left the group. The children have been raised and educated without being told about the criminal acts by their father and his followers. Rather, they were taught that their father was not involved in the criminal acts. The eldest daughter is suffering mental disorder and has been in and out the mental hospital. She is living independent from other members of the family and living on public livelihood protection subsidy. 19-year old fourth daughter has learned about the criminal cases, left the family, and living independently by herself.
Beside the six children with his lawful wife, Asahara has three children with one woman, two children with another woman, and one child with another. These children have not been affiliated by Asahara. Some of them are living on the groups finance, and some group followers are intending to use them in regaining power within the group.
VI Break-away Factions: minor ones
The group was formed in around 1996 with Nakata, a former gangster as the leader. Possibly in its endeavor to avoid application of Subversive Activities Prevention Law, many of the members became adopted family members of Nakata. The group has been operating souvenir shops and tourists inns. Although they present themselves as gexh AUM members, they still retain faith in Asaharafs teachings as well as personal exchanges with Aleph.
The group was formed in around 1999 with a lay follower as its leader. She asserted that gthe Guru resides in my mind.h She made the members recipients of public livelihood protection subsidy, and made them donate the welfare payments to the group. One of the members was drubbed to death. Children in the group were forced to drink alcohol and inflicted burns. The leader was arrested. She has been seemingly growing weak from serious illness in her ongoing public trials.
Kouichi Ninomiya, a high ranked member of Ahrefu formed the group of about 10 members in around 2000. The group is financially independent with import/sales of Buddhist altar fittings.
Sugiura brothers, who used to be high-ranked members of Ahrefu, formed a group of less than 10 people. The brothers and members are known to be living together in a residential house. Other details of the group are unknown.
There are some other small factions of former AUM (Aleph) members. Members of these groups work together, live together, or started businesses ie.g. fortune-telling, health fool retailing, and massage parlorsj together. The extent of their faith in the gurufs teaching is unknown.
The leader of the group, Fumihiro Joyu was convicted guilty of perjury etc. After leaving prison in Dec., 1999, he gradually took the helm of AUM, and became the leader in January, 2002. In the same year, in October, Asaharafs wife left prison and began to barge into operation/management of AUM together with her second and third daughters. Beginning in Oct., 2003, Joyufs activities within AUM was disturbed.
In July, 2006, Joyu clarified his orientation to form a group independent from AUM, and in fact, he launched a financially independent group within AUM. Subsequent to spinning off from AUM in Mar., 2007, Joyu formally established a new independent group with 57 dedicated members and 106 non-dedicated members. The group has been announcing its intention to pay $100,000 to $200,000/year compensation to victims of AUM.
Joyu announced his intension of not using
any of Asaharafs past preaches and lectures, and thus denounced Asahara. In recent years, he has been touring and
visiting shrines around
In my view, all these activities and surface look of the group is merely a camouflage to hide its true nature.
Although all these offshoot groups assume different names and different outlooks, they are mere factions of AUM. While Aleph is ga childish extremist,h Hikarino-wa is ga sophisticated extremist.h The exact religious hierarchy of AUM Shinrikyo is reflected on the organization of Hikarino-wa.
It should be noted that Joyu, the representative of the current Hikarino-wa announced in Jan. 2000, that his policy for the future is to sweep the image of Asahara under the carpet.
At the meeting of AUM in
i. AUM Shinrikyo should rename itself to gReligious Group Alephh so that;
a. Aleph may aim to expand itself further so that the death penalty of the Guru can be avoided,
b. Efforts should be made to enable Aleph to resume its religious activities, and
c. The Guru, his children, as well as his other family members should be put out of the sight of the general public.
ii. Re. new recruitment activities;
a. Recruitment should be started on the internet for Aleph, a cyber religious group for the 21st Century,
b. Activities by Aleph as a religious group of Aquarius should be started for the purpose of incubating super-humans within whom science and religion find complete accord.
c. Aleph as a gwhite (innocent) freemason,h should pursue salvation without showing the hue of AUM Shinrikyo on the surface,
d. Aleph should establish the basis for business/corporate activities, and
Aleph should become a global
religious group, and pursue recruitment and economic activities in
iii. Behave well in public by;
a. admitting in public, Asaharafs instructions and involvement in the criminal cases in question,
b. making apologies and efforts to pay compensation to the victims,
c. calling the victims gGuardians,h and
d. getting mass media over to our side by making public announcements.
iv. Re. Administrative disposition of surveillance by authorities;
a. Turn the on-site investigation of the facilities as an opportunity to prove that we are not a danger for the society,
b. Try the best to preserve evidences of misfeasance, and
c. Win the general public to our side by emphasizing resemblances of the on-going situation with the Great Empire of Japan.
v. Re: Manuals for the cases of on-site investigations;
a. All statements concerning on-site investigations should be issued under the name of Legal Affairs Division,
b. Check and record the name and title etc. of each official involved in the on-site investigation,
c. Disclose/show whatever seems not-disadvantageous to us, but only slowly and little by little in the way the authorities would feel impatient,
d. Lock all drawers and safes, insist gThis isnft my desk,h and gThis is not my PC, and I donft have the access key to start up.h
e. Tell the authority gThis investigation is only for facilities and financial records, and not for personnel like myself,h and
f. Tell the authority gThese are my personal belongings, and are not the groupfs
VIII The mainstream AUM: AUM to Aleph
Since after 1995, two death cases have been
reported – a member died during the ascetic practices of submersing himself to
hot water of 47 degrees Celsius, another member died while climbing up to the
top to Mt.
After Joyu splintered off from the mainstream AUM, Sugihara brothers (two of the top ranked senior members) left AUM and Muraoka resigned from his high ranking position in 2007. They seemed to have felt difficulty of accepting religious contradictions within AUM (Aleph): e.g. hiding involvement of the Gurufs wife and the 3rd daughter etc. in their current activities from the eyes of the public, and the fact that the wife and the 3rd daughter have been having sexual relationship with male followers.
With the original top senior members leaving from their positions or from the group itself, low-ranked followers began to come into the important positions of the group while the Gurufs wife is holding power in the hierarchy.
One of the remaining original senior members, Noda has been cast out within the group. Another original high-ranked follower, Ninomiya has been leading his own activities independently from the rest of the group, visiting the groupfs facility only for attending preaching/lecture sessions.
On May 20m, 2008, Tatsuya Ueda and Takatoshi Matushita became co-representatives of the group. The current size of the group is estimated to be of 284 live-in followers and approximately 600 lay followers. The groupfs major sources o income are fees for seminar sessions, donations from the followers, and labor exploitation i.e. sending live-in followers to the outside work places to earn money for the group. The group announced that it would seal off Asaharafs preaches, and do not follow/use his teachings of VAJRAYANA i.e. The teaching that allows any nature of acts for supreme objectives. The group also announced that it should continue to make the best effort to pay several-hundred-thousand dollars every year as compensation to the victims.
On the contrary, on the very same day as theses announcements were made, the groupfs name was changed from Ahleph to Aleph as instructed by the Guru behind the bars.
At the same time, the group has been using all of the original audio-visual recordings of the Gurufs words. In some of their events and sessions (some are even titled as gGathering to Talk about the Guruh), the venue is kept dim or in darkness with Asaharafs preaching video on the screen with his loud voice filling the space. In addition, the group has been financially supporting Asaharafs wife by paying a substantial rental fee for displaying her painting on the alter at the groupfs facility. Parents of the remaining followers still have much difficulty acquiring permission from the group to meet their children.
IX True gEx-g Members
Over 2,500 live-in followers and
approximately 20,000 lay followers have left AUM in
In June, 1995, I formed a group of ex-members of AUM and named the group as gKanariya no Kai (the Canaries).h Since it foundation, I have been the only one to keep the residential addressees of all the members. So far, 150 ex-members have participated in the groupfs meeting at least once. The original ranks and positions of the ex-members who have come to our meetings range from fringe members to top positions and some are those who have completed their prison terms, and some are even Asaharafs children.
We have issued 156 news letters (400 copies each) so far, have held 62 meetings of around ten attendees each.
People come to our meetings are those who have more or less gone through psychological processes for recovery i.e. those who have relatively little chance of committing suicide or retuning back to AUM. All the ex-members have had at least a few years of mental instability, and many still suffer mental as well as financial difficulties in the process of integrating themselves back to the society.
Some ex-members are making living on fortune-telling business within socially accepted framework. Oftentimes, it seems difficult for the general public to distinguish current and ex members of AUM. In my view, the line between current and ex members can be whether the person takes Asahara as his/her guru or not.
AUM Shinrikyo has been a destructive cult as well as religious group. With very strict surveillance by the authorities and the society in general, AUMfs destructive nature seems to have been suppressed.
However, in short, AUMfs direct descendants e.g. Aleph and Hikarino-wa remain extremists: Aleph is a gchildish extremisth with explicit devotion to the guru, and Hikarino-wa is a gsophisticated extremisth with implicit devotion (sweeping the guru under the carpet) for the purpose of escaping administrative surveillance by authorities. If the society will allow these groups to enjoy freedom of activities, they surely will regain cultic and destructive nature.
I believe, total disintegration of AUM is strongly needed for the interest of the society, ex-members, and more over, each and every current member of AUM and its descendants.
Attachment A Links on the Internet
AUM Trials in 10 Year (English ver.):
JSCPRfs Statement on Definitive Death Sentence issued to Asahara (English ver.) :
Kanariya-no Uta (The Canaries: the group of ex-members):
(Attachment B is from this site.)
Results of Public Surveillance (Public Security Intelligence Agency) (in English):
BLOG by Taro Takimoto (in Japanese):
Aleph (in Japanese):
Hikari-no Wa (the Circle of Rainbow Lights) (in Japanese):
3 (2) Kazuaki Miyamae:@His final appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Apr. 7, 2005, and the death sentence has become definitive. He has been working on line drawings in prison, and his works have won selections by various exhibition organizations.
3 (3) Masato Yokoyama:@His final appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Jul. 20, 2007, and the death sentence has become definitive.
3 (6) Yoshihiro Inoue:@His final appeal is currently under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (7) Yasuo Hayashi:@His final appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Feb. 15, 2008, and the death sentence has become definitive.
3 (8) Kenichi Hirose:@His final appeal is currently under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (9) Toru Toyota:@His final appeal is currently under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (11) Satoru Hashimoto:@His final appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Oct. 26, 2007, and the death sentence has become definitive.
3 (12) Kiyohide Hayakawa:@His final appeal is currently under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (14) Tomomitsu Niimi:@Tokyo High Court supported the death sentence by Tokyo District Court on Mar. 15, 2006. Currently, his final appeal is under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (15) Seiichi Endo:@Tokyo High Court supported the death sentence by Tokyo District Court on May 31, 2007. Currently, his final appeal is under examination by the Supreme Court.
3 (16) Masami Tsuchiya:@Tokyo High Court supported the death sentence by Tokyo District Court on Aug. 18, 2006. Currently, his final appeal is under examination by the Supreme Court.
Shoukou Asahara, the guru of AUM Shinrikyo:
Tokyo High Court dismissed his appeal on
@A petition for reprimanding the two attorneys of the defense counsel for Asaharafs High Court trial were filed with the local bar associations by me (Takimoto), a general citizen, and the Secretary General of Tokyo High Court respectively for their failure to submit the statement with the court against the interest of the defendant.
@For one of the two attorneys, Disciplinary Committee of Sendai Bar Association has judged that the case merits the decision by Reprimand Committee. The case is currently under examination by the committee. For the other attorney, the case is currently under examination by Disciplinary Committee of Daini Tokyo Bar Association.
I. Introduction of the Author of This Report
Taro Takimoto, Attorney at Law:@Taro Takimoto was born o Jan. 17,
1957, graduated from
@Before daybreak on
@In addition to involvement in litigations concerning AUM, in Aug., 1993, he began to provide counseling to help people leave AUM. In his effort to help AUM followers to realize deceptive nature of Asahara, he managed to levitate (make an aerial jump) and took photos of his levitation, because Asahara had been using his glevitationh photos as the evidence of his ultimate emancipation. So far, with his help, over 30 followers left AUM.
@Because of his fight against AUM, he was attacked by AUM followers repeatedly. One of the attacks took place in Nov., 1995 when he was driving his car. AUM poured liquid sarin around the air inlet of a car running immediate before his. He survived the attack with chemical weapon only by chance with miotic response alone.
@He has been serving as the secretary general and director of the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery (JASCR).
@He co-written Mind Control Kara Nogarete (After Escaping Mind Control), Shuukyou Trouble 110-ban (Responses to Emergency Calls for Religious Troubles), AUM wo Yameta Watashitachi (Leaving from AUM), and Igi-ari! Kiseki-no-Shijinn: Doman-hou, FC-no-Shinjitsu (Objection! The Miracle Poet: Truth of Domanfs Method/FC).
II. Reference Links
@Mugen Kairou (Info. On AUM criminal cases, defendants, court decisions etc.):
@Kanariya-no Uta (The Canaries: the group of ex-members):
UP@|pê|The Ten Years of the Aum Trial
-Written on March 31, 2005 Revised on September 26, 2005
The Ten Years of the Aum Trial
P2 Section 1.
Abstract of the Aum Trial
P3 Section 2.
Outline of the Aum Incident and the Circumstances Surrounding It
P8 Section 3.
Results of the Trial and the Response of Each Defendant
P20 Section 4.
Mind control, Responsibility, and Possible Expectations
P25 Section 5.
The Attorneys for the Victims of the Aum Incidents
P27 Section 6.
Taro Takimoto@@@@@@@@@@@Written on March 31, 2005@@@@@@@Revised on September 26, 2005
Section 1. Abstract of the Aum Trial
The Aum incidents were
brought to light after the police began their Investigation on
Up until the
investigation was started, the
Out of all the cases in which lawsuits were filed, 26 people were murdered and one person died while imprisoned. However, there are thought to be other related deaths in incidents where no lawsuit was filed. It is estimated that about 50 people died as a result of violence stemming from brutal religious practices. In national registration records, some of these people are still indicated as being alive.
Some of the survivors of the sarin and VX gas incidents still suffer from injuries sustained in those attacks. They have seizures, numbness in various areas of their bodies, sight disorders, and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two survivors are still hospitalized and unable to walk.
Out of approximately
500 people arrested, 189 have been indicted. One was found not guilty, while
another was found not guilty on certain counts. The rest of them were found
guilty. Some of these people have already completed their sentence and are out
of jail. Life sentence without parole was given to 3 people. 12 people
including the leader, Chizuo Matsumoto, have received the death penalty. Inoue
received a life sentence from a regional court, but the verdict was changed to
the death penalty by the Supreme Court. Therefore, 13 people are waiting for
their death penalty. The trial of the defendant, Kazuaki Miyamae (formerly
named Saeki and
Four prosecutions related to illegal drug manufacturing (not counting Matsumoto) were exceptionally withdrawn due to the progression of the trial. In addition, all cases other than those involving death and serious injuries resulting from the gas attacks were withdrawn. All other details can be obtained from those who were involved, including Sadao Asami, who has appeared in various courts as a witness.
Section 2. Outline of the Aum Incident and the Circumstances Surrounding It
From here the most important events will be listed in chronological order, as they are indispensable in understanding the characteristics of the Aum cult group.
1988.9. One of the cult members was drowned during an intensive religious ceremony in the gym of the Mt. Fuji headquarters. The body was burned by oil from an oil drum and abandoned in Lake Shoji.
1989.2. Shuji Taguchi was murdered in a container near the gym, and the body was illegally discarded.
1989.11.4 A lawyer, Sakamoto, and his family were murdered.
1990.2.18 The election for the House of Representatives. 25 candidates from the Aum Shinrikyo party ran for the election, but all 25 of them were not elected. There was also illegal movement of resident cards.
1990.4. The Ishigakijima Seminar was held. During this seminar and several months after it, Botulinus toxin was sprinkled around the National Diet building twice. The toxin was thought to be complete when planted, but it was not yet complete.
1990.10.22 In Kumamoto Prefecture, the prosecution against Aum continued with the violation of the National Land Use Planning Act in Namino and document forgery, as well as other illegal activities.
1990.12.7 A father whose child was living with its mother, a cult member, made a claim to take the child back from Aum. The Aum cult lost this case, which is related to the human life protection demand, in both the Osaka regional court and the Supreme Court.
1992.3 Russia relief tours were held. Asahara met with the highest conference chairman and vice president. The meeting was broadcasted for cult members in Japan.
1992. 9. The Aum takes over the company that a cult member owned and brings precise machine accessories into the cult.
1993.2. Aum members visited an automatic rifle manufacturing plant in Russia, and purchased an AK471 rifle and ammunition.
1993.6.6 Naoki Ochi was hanged to death, and the body was illegally disposed.
1993.12 The sarin attack occurred in the Soka Gakkai facility in Hachioji City, Tokyo.
1993.6-7 A nasty smell was been reported to the police twice in the Aumfs Tokyo Kameido headquarters which was in the middle of the construction process. Tanso bacteria had been sprinkled in the area.
1994.5 Aum started selling PSI, a method of introducing electricity of the same wave length as the founder of cult into the heads of the cult members. There were two ways to purchase it: one million yen for one week or was 10 million yen for unlimited use.
1994.1.30 Kotaro Ochida was killed in a lynching.
1994.3 Aum abducted a property owner in
1994.5.9 There was a murder attempted on Taro Takimoto, a lawyer, using sarin gas.
1994.6 A large, former
1994.6 An initiation for new cult members involving LSD and other stimulants was begun. As many as 10 people have died during this initiation process.
1994.6.27 The sarin gas attack occurred in Matsumoto, resulting in 7 deaths.
1994.7 A nasty smell was reported twice in the seventh building, Satyam, in Kamikuishiki.
1994.7.10 Toshio Tomita died in a lynching.
1994.7.15 A male cult member was killed after immersing his body in hot water at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius.
1994.8.24 Wiretaps were discovered in the Takeuchi house and the public halls in Kamikuishiki.
1994.9 A property owner in
1994.9 A lawyer, Takimoto, reported the use of LSD and other stimulants in Aum cult to the police.
1994.9.20 The Shouko Egawa Phosgene gas incident. No prosecution took place.
1994.10.5 Egawa, Takimoto, and their families were guarded by the police 24 hours a day for one year.
1994.10 The Takimoto VX gas incident. No prosecution took place.
1994.10 Police took soil samples from Tamikuisshiki for lab testing.
1994.10 A nurse escaped the cult and reported murder and illegal drug use in Aum to the police. The nurse was a victim of confinement.
1994.11.4 Takimoto was forced to drink juice containing a botulinus toxin at a hotel in Fujinomiya.
1994.11 Aum began the gNew Narco" process, in which electroshocks are used to erase the memory in human brains.
1994.11 A by-product of sarin was detected in the soil from in Kamikuishiki.
1994.12.2 The Noboru Mizuno VS gas incident in
1994.12.5 The eldest daughter of one of the cult members was abducted from the street.
1994.12.9 A pianist who was a cult member was put in confinement. Other members were arrested for the act of confining in March, 1995.
1994.12.12 The Chuuji Hamaguchi VX gas incident in
1994.12 There was a VX gas homicide attempt for Yoshinori Kobayashi, the cartoonist. The case was not prosecuted.
1994.12 Plans for a compulsory investigation were decided at a nationwide police conference.
1995.1.1. The Yomiuri newspaper reported the discovery of a sarin by-product in Kamikuishiki on the front page of the paper.
1993.1.4. The chairman of the victimsf advocate group, Hiroyuki Nagaoka, was attacked by VX gas and seriously injured.
(The Hanshin-Awaji earthquake hit Kobe on January 17, 1995)
1995.1 The son of cult members was abducted from his elementary school.
1995.2 The daughter of cult members was drugged and confined.
1995.2.28 Kiyoshi Kariya was abducted, confined, and later killed on March 1.
1995.3.15. A briefcase filled with Botulinus toxin was found in Kasumigaseki station.
1995.3.19 The Osaka district director of Aum was arrested for the abduction of a college student.
1995.3.19 An apartment previously owned by the professor specializing in religion was bombed. Aum cult members also threw fire bombs into their own headquarters to make it appear as though they were the victims of an attack.
1995.3.20 The sarin gas attack on the
1995.3.22. A compulsory investigation by the police began at all of the facilities throughout the entire country.
(1995.3.30 The chief of the National Police Agency was shot.)
(1995.4.23 Hideo Murai, the minister of Science and Technology Ministry at Aum, was stabbed to death.)
1995.5.5 Cyanide gas was released in an underground rest room at Shinjuku station. The same crime had been attempted twice before that.
1995.5.16. Shoukou Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, was arrested
1995.5.16 A mail bomb exploded in the
Section 3. Results of the Trial and the Response of Each Defendant
There were as many as 189 defendants, making it difficult to grasp the true reaction of everyone involved. However, I have some information based on my own activity as a lawyer, interviews, court appearances by witnesses, and information from the media.
17 who have received the death penalty and life sentences (except for Asahara) are documented below. Responsibility for actions and mind control are explained in section four.
1. Ikuo Hayashi
He released sarin in a
train at the subway station. He was 48 years old at the time. After graduating
On December, 1994, I found out that he and his baby lived in the gym. Because I found this situation to be insane, I tried to talk him out of it.
On the day of the meeting, he was crazy enough to make me drink botulinus toxin. He was desperate to get his parent, an ex-cult member, back to Aum. They tried to use any means necessary to stop me.
Hayashi later told he was a principal drug offender and had known about the manufacture of sarin. In addition to that, he revealed in the witness questioning after the sentence was given that he believed the Aum cult was the victim of sarin attacks by some other group.
The police detective
treated Hayashi gently and called him gSenseih (a respectful way to address
The defending lawyer for Hayashi was court-appointed. By the time the defending lawyer was appointed, Hayashi already understood the contradictions and lies of Shoukou Asahara and the belief system of the Aum Supreme Truth. His faith was destroyed. There was a possibility of a suicide attempt because of his collapsed identity and strong self-dislike. Therefore, there were strenuous efforts made to prevent him from committing suicide in prison.
Hayashi later wrote the book "Aum and I" (the pocket edition in 1998 and 2001 by the Bungeishunju Co.), a book that is extremely valuable in understanding the Aum incidents.
2. Kazuaki Miyamae (former name, Saeki,
Miyamae was the
perpetrator in the Sakamoto family murder. At that time he was 29 years old. He
grew up in a difficult economical situation, and was raised by his stepfather
who did not have a good relationship with him. He changed jobs repeatedly,
doing mostly construction work after he graduated from high school. He joined Aum and started to live in the
gym at the age of 25. He escaped
from Aum in February, 1990, the year after the incident. The death sentence was
given to him on
contacted the police after they began a compulsory investigation in 1995.
However, he partially admitted his participation in the Sakamoto family murder.
He talked with a weekly magazine. He visited
In the first trial, a psychological evaluation was given by the psychologist Oda and Takeshi Tsuchiya, who specializes in criminal law. They concluded that, from the religious psychological perspective, it was difficult for him to do anything other than what Asahara ordered him to do. It is assumed that he was restricted from acting of his own free will. They also noted that he was convinced that all Chizuo Matsumoto's words were the truth, and that the only way to live was by mentally integrating himself with Matsumoto. As such, he felt he was forced to commit the crime since it was what Matsumoto wished. It was discovered that he had been confined in complete darkness in an isolation cell, and was psychologically manipulated by starving for several months.
In the appeal hearing, I met with him for an interview because I was appointed as a witness. It turned out that he still had a sense of fear and obligation towards Shoukou Asahara after he had escaped. When he fled, he had about 200 million yen, including 8.3 million yen received by Asahara. He planned to rebuild a local Aum branch some time afterwards. When he was arrested, he had some religious items, such as badge called Prussia, which is believed to show onefs real self, that he received from Shoukou Asahara.I sensed Miyamaefs feeling for Asahara was similar to the mixed feeling of fear and love one has toward onefs parents.
3. Masahito Yokoyama
He was the primary
perpetrator in the
Yokoyama kept silent in court. It was confirmed that he had completely lost his sense of time while working in the Aum cult. After he was arrested, he was assaulted and severely attacked by the interrogator. He did not reveal any facts that were relevant to the attack, his motive, or the details of his relationship to Asahara. However, he described in his final statement of the first trial that he was "troubled because [he was] unable to make amends for what [he had] done no matter how hard [he] tried." His voice was so low that he could not be heard very well. In the final phase of the public trial, he declared that he was no longer a member of Aum, but later he took that declaration back. He has been reading books related to physics.
By the district court, the judge concluded that "he became a criminal due to his belief that he must obey Matsumoto's instructions" and "his motive was fanatical and self-righteous." It is regrettable that the investigation was not handled more appropriately. No fatalities occurred as a result of the sarin that Yokoyama released.
4. Koichi Kitamura
Kitamura was the driver
who carried the sarin gas that was used in the attack on the
5. Kiyotaka Sotozaki
Sotozaki was also a
driver who carried the sarin gas that was used in the attack on the
6. Yoshihiro Inoue
Inoue was the person
in charge of the sarin attack on the
The lawyer assigned to this defendant was searching for a new method to defend his client. The lawyer took the defense method where the defendant was defended as opposed to defending the Criminal Procedures Law, which, from the authorfs point of view, is exactly the way the defending lawyer should handle the defense. The lawyer used the court room as a place to point out the extent of Shoukou Asaharafs lies in an attempt to let the other cult members know the truth about the cult group so they would stop believing in it. He even visited the defendant every morning, which had a big effect on the defendantfs sense of regret in regard to his actions.
However, at first the defendant did not appear to be truly remorseful, and the victims did not feel that his regret was genuine. Although the defendant was finally able separate himself from Shoukou Asahara, the only thing he had to offer was his prayers that those affected by his actions could find peace. His psychological condition is shown in the report that Director Nishida wrote in his capacity as his psychological examiner. Afterwards an interview was held with the head of the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery, Sadao Asami. During the meeting the preciousness of life was repeatedly stressed to the defendant, and he was recommended to read a book written by Shuhei Fujisawa. Slowly, he was able to feel and show real remorse.
"Think with your own self and never try to escape from the truth by blindly believing the teaching of the religion." The judge's statement at the first trial was based on the following background information. The defendant was given a life sentence, although the prosecutor had asked for capital punishment. The reason for this leniency was because he did nothing more than reporting the site situation at the sarin gas attack. The fact that he was extremely young and vulnerable when he was manipulated by the cult, in addition to the fact that he had a very difficult family situation were also taken into consideration. However, the most important fact that led to this decision was that he showed true regret and remorse for his actions.
Even so, in the appeal trial, the defendant was given the death penalty despite the fact that the prosecution did not provide enough counterevidence. They assumed that his post as a site reporter could be considered as supervising the attack. The verdict seems to have been decided from the start of the proceedings, due to his involvement in several incidents that the Aum group was responsible for. His relatively high position in the group was apparently the main reason for the death penalty he received. The lack of sincere effort and accurate judgment are a marked difference from the first trial.
7. Ikuo Hayashi
Hayashi was the actual
perpetrator of the sarin gas attacks in Matsumoto and on the
One thing that was very unusual was that no one spoke badly of Hayashi while most other higher posts were criticized by the cult members. Another thing was that he voluntarily took the last bag (making a total of three) of sarin to scatter in silence while the others only took two bags. At an interview with the writer, he stated, gI donft know why I did it. I really donfth. In a statement from the judge, it was recognized that he was manipulated by the leaders of the group into taking it.
Hayashi described that he was told by his boss, Shigeo Murai, that Murai and Asahara made a bet regarding who would take the last bag, and they had both thought it would be Hayashi. Although he said he felt doubt about Muraifs statement, he punched in a hole on three bags filled with sarin in the subway car, killing eight people. There is no other way to explain his action other than the intensity of the moment or weight of the feeling that his acts were irreversible.
After the attack,
Hayashi escaped with a female cult member for a year and a half until
Hayashi was sentenced to death at the first trial. The following sentences were included in the closing statement from the judge. gWe cannot criticize the true human nature and quality of the defendant without separating him from Asahara and the cult. The defendant is seen as one man. Doubting the group must have been the hardest thing to accept for the defendant, and from that point of view, we can also say that the defendant was unhappy and unfortunate.h The expression used in the text was very unusual; therefore, we can guess how complicated and different each of the Aum cases is.
In order to understand the nature of the the Aum incidents, it is important to take note of the following:
-They were events of extraordinary monstrosity that were committed by good people who believed that they were doing the right thing.
-Homicide based on malice is clear-cut, but homicide based on good intentions is not.
-As the expression goes, gThe road to hell is paved with good intentions.h
8. Kenichi Hirose
Hirose released sarin
gas in the
Although his studies
of physics in university went against the concept of levitation, he still
believed the teachings of Aum and became one of its most enthusiastic cult
members. He was sentenced to death on
9. Toru Toyota
In his first court appearance, the defendant stated that his "awareness of [his] sins [was] becoming heavier every day" and that "the weight of the crime [was] pulling [him] down". From his statements, we can assume that he was able to escape from the cultfs mind control at an early stage. The fact that he didnft go through Aumfs gmysterious ritualh might have helped him escape from it.
In a district court,
10. Toshiro Sugimoto
He released sarin gas
According to his defending lawyer, he had already been released from the cultfs mind control when he was prosecuted. It seems that those who faced the reality of the incident and were given detailed information about what happened to the victims were more likely to be able to free themselves from the mind control.
For instance, Niimi is
the only defendant who still believed that the Sakamoto familyfs murder was
carried out for a good reason; he also confessed his involvement in it. On the
other hand, Endo and other defendants, who had actually been involved in
producing sarin gas, have still not fully confessed. Tsuchiya is even convinced
that the sarin released in the
Therefore, it can be concluded that those who actually committed crimes and witnessed the murders with their own eyes are more likely to be able to come to grips with the reality of the situation.
11. Satoru Hashimoto
Hashimoto was the
perpetrator in the Sakamoto family murder. He released sarin gas in Matsumoto
and is responsible for other incidents. He was 22 years old at the time. He
studied law at
One year after Hashimoto went to live in the Aum gym, he won first place at martial arts competition; therefore, he was assigned to physically attack the lawyer, Sakamoto. He ended up murdering all three members of the Sakamoto family at their apartment, but those murders did not have enough of an impact on him to stop him from taking part in the Matsumoto sarin attack.
In order to understand his intentions and actions, we need to know that all of his instructions were handed down to him by Asahara, and most of them ended up in failure. He indeed became a perpetrator in the Sakamoto family murder. However, Aum later released botulinus toxin around the Diet building in April of the next year, and it did not have any effects. Additionally, he almost died while he became a subject for an experimental underwater world Asahara was trying to create for the future. He was inside a submarine made from oil drums while keeping a bucket on his head to give him some oxygen. I believe him when he confessed that he never thought they would be successful in the Matsumoto sarin attack.
Aum tried to create all sorts of things such as a flying cushion, an airplane, a miniature black hole, an underwater world, and laser weapons. They also tried to make an atomic weapon out of uranium and manufactured substances, but most of them ended in failure. Therefore, we can assume that top members of Aum could not easily believe they were capable of complicated terrorist acts. Hashimoto had feelings of suspicion and doubt towards Shoko Asahara at the early stages.
The question is, why
he did not leave Aum then? At the very least he could have refrained from
taking part in further criminal activities after the Sakamoto family murder. He
spoke with his mother in the spring of 1990 during a campaign, where families
of the cult members tried to take their family members who are believers back
from the Aum headquarters near
12. Kiyohide Hayakawa
Hayakawa was a
perpetrator in the Sakamoto family murder and other crimes. He was 40 years old
at the time. He got a job at a company after he graduated from the Department
of Agriculture at
Because Hayakawa was
the only senior to the defendant Matsumoto in Aum and went back and forth
Hayakawa left Aum on
the day the defendant, Matumoto, was arrested,
Some people had
suspicions that Hayakawa had gone to
When Hayakawa was arrested, it was assumed that he would receive the death sentence because he was involved in a number of crimes, and he was also the oldest. The defending lawyer questioned him freely in court. Hayakawa was embarrassed when it was revealed that he often wore disguises when participating in Aum incidents in order to hide his identity, and that he also disguised himself as a woman when he escaped.
When the defendant, Matsumoto, refused to testify and left the court, Hayakawa cried bitterly. This symbolized the viewpoints of all the other defendants of the Aum incidents.
13. Noboru Nakamura
Nakamura released sarin gas
in Matsumoto and was responsible for other Aum incidents. He was given a life
14. Hiromitsu Nimi
Nimi was the main
perpetrator in the lynching murder of a fellow Aum cult member. He was also a
perpetrator in the Sakamoto family murder and in the sarin subway attack. He was 25 years old at the time of the Sakamoto
incident. He went into Aum when he was a senior at
Miyamae, who was the
head of production of Aum books and magazines, described Nimi as ga Doberman
that could talk.h However, Aum members were not always afraid of him or looked
at him with disdain. In fact, he was even known to have told jokes on occasion.
In his writings, he talked about how he was healed by Asahara. He had a complex about his cleft palate and scars from surgery. He was accidentally victimized during a Sarin
attack at the Soukagakkai facility in Hachiouji and was in critical condition.
Despite this, he was still committed to taking part in both the Matsumoto and
During the long trial, Nimi kept his silence, but after a while, he admitted that Asahara ordered the attack. He even admitted that the murder was a religious practice called gvagerayana,h resigning his soul to gShoko Asaharah. From the legal point of view, his statement was extremely important in proving Asahara guilty.
After the defending lawyer presented the evidence, Nimi testified in the district court: gI was ready to give myself up for the sake of the world. Therefore, I have nothing to regret even if I get the death penalty. Also, I feel I owe an apology to my parents, relatives, acquaintances, friends, victims, Samana, and Aum believers, religious related people, and all Japanese citizens because I failed to carry out the Shambalization plan.h
Nimi was assigned a private lawyer paid for by Aum. With the defending policy, all the incidents were treated as grebellious crimesh; as such, the death penalty should be given only to the leaders. The fact that he was brainwashed or was just following Asaharafs orders was never even discussed or proved in the trial.
15 Seiichi Endou
sarin and was connected with other criminal activities. He was 34 years old at
the time of the sarin attack. He earned his bachelorfs and materfs degree in
veterinary medicine from
From 1990 onwards, Endou was involved in behind-the-scenes tasks such as removing the toxin from botulinum. However, he was not successful due to his lack of ability. A defendant, Tsuchiya, who became a member of Aum after Endou, was successful in manufacturing sarin, soman, tabun, mustard gas, LSD, stimulants, thiopental sodium, etc. He created a plan for the mass production of sarin, material which was later used by the defense.
However, Endou, in
attempt to obtain the gsalvationh which Asahara had taught, manufactured the
sarin used for the sarin gas attack on the
At first, Endou admitted his guilt per his privately appointed lawyerfs instructions. However, he later dismissed his lawyer, kept his silence, and then began to retell his story from the beginning. I am curious to know whether his lawyer viewed Endou as most other defendants, whose only concern is avoiding the death penalty, and did not do anything to address the mind control issues, characteristics of Aum, etc.
Endou stated in the last defendant question in the district court, gThroughout my life as an Aum believer, I had considered my religious experiences and training as extremely valuable. Those experiences were made possible because of Mr. Asahara, and that makes me his follower. However, I do not feel any devotion to him now.h It is clear that the trial ended without addressing the problems that ensued as result of the experiences to which Endou referred.
16. Tomomasa Nakagawa
He was the main
perpetuator in the Sakamaoto family murders and took a role in producing sarin
gas. He was 27 years old at the time.
When he was in his 6th year at a medical school in
This defendant took part in Sakamoto family murders less than 2 months after joining Aum. What was interesting about him was that he took part in various gmysterious ritualsh as he grew up. He was still in a state of unease about these experiences when he met Asahara. According to Nakagawa, he could actually see himself in his previous life, and could also he see Asaharafs shining aura. He claimed these visions made him feel complete and utter happiness.
Some people view this
condition as the kind seen in those who have experienced a religious
phenomenon. If this is the case, it
must have been easy for Asahara to take him in. Nakagawa had a badge called g
gMysterious ritualsh play a very important role in religion, and especially in cults, where they are used effectively to control the believers as if they were robots.
I was also at the court,
testifying for the prosecution as a victim of the sarin attack. I made the following statement, hoping
he would realize what he had done:
gShow me your hands. Those
hands have committed many crimes.
Nakagawa was the one of the believers the lawyer, Sakamoto, wanted to help.
17. Masami Tsuchiya
Tsuchiya was responsible
for producing sarin gas and various other incidents caused by the Aum
members. He was 30 years old at the
time of the sarin attack on the
He was assigned a lawyer
paid by Aum throughout the trial just like they did for Niimi. Not only did he
insist that he did not realize the sarin they produced was used in the attack
Tsuchiya testified for Matsumoto at the trial and stated, gPlease lead us till all our souls can reach Maha-Nirvana. I eternally devote myself to you, my great teacher. I pray that my contribution helps all spirits reach the higher worldh.
All of the Aum incidents were, according to the Aum believers (and Matsumoto in particular), committed in good faith, and were clearly greligioush murders.
Section 4. Mind control, Responsibility, and Possible Expectations
1. Regarding constituent elements, illegality, and responsibility.
In criminal law theory, three of the above-mentioned are necessary to prove guilt. As homicide must be committed in a homicide case, the act of the theft is necessary to have a theft case. There must be a cause/effect relationship between the execution and the result (assuming a condition causal relation is a judicial precedent), and this is referred to as constituent elements. Therefore, if someone were to embezzle his or her own belongings, thinking it was someone elsefs, it would not be considered as a crime because no theft was committed. If someone tried to kill a person but only injured them, and there was a fire at the hospital where the victim was being treated that caused him or her to die, it is assumed that there is a break in the causal relation chain, and the crime is considered as attempted murder.
Illegality is necessary to prove guilt. For example, even if bodily injury in a boxing match results in death, as long as the defendant acted properly and obeyed the orders of the referee, there is no illegality and the defendant is innocent. If someone kills another person in an act of self-defense, he or she remains innocent. However, if he or she goes to extremes when defending him or herself, it will result in a reduced sentence. If a ship were to sink leaving one plank that could only support one person, and one of two survivors kicked away another resulting in his or her death, he or she is considered innocent iKarneades plankj
Responsibility is also necessary to prove guilt. In modern criminal law, responsibility is considered as "possible criticism", and at the time of the execution of a crime, the one who actually commits the crime has to be punished. The reason for the punishment is not to remove the perpetrator from the society, or remove the griskh of the perpetrator, but rather to give punishment as one form of criticism for the act.
The system of "punishment for security" that isolates a "dangerous person" beforehand would essentially be no different from the penalty if one assumes that the penalty is for defense from society without considering the responsibility principle explained above.
In the case of theft between family members living in the same residence, there cannot be punishment, and even though it is an offense subject to prosecution only upon complaint, it is not possible to carry out a punishment if there is no accusation. This is only a special cause in which the perpetrator is considered guilty, but no punishment is given.
2. Responsibility and possible expectations
In current criminal law, in order to prove responsibility, it is necessary that both the ability to be responsible and the expected possibility for the such as the content, the level, the form of the crime, the defendant's level of involvement, the motive, and the circumstances of the crime are considered in order to determine the degree of responsibility.
The ability for responsibility in Article 39 of the criminal law states that gthe act committed by one who is legally insane shall not be punished. A punishment shall be reduced when an act is committed by a person of diminished mental capacity.h If a person is in a mental condition where he/she could not understand the actions taken, or control his/her actions in any way even though he/she understood what was going on in his/her mind at the time of the crime, the person cannot be blamed for the action, and is considered innocent.
As an example experienced by the author, a case was dropped because the person who committed the crime was considered as legally insane at the time of the act; however, when they examined him, they found that his frontal lobe was widely damaged, and as a result he fell into a state of complex drunkenness@and was considered as having diminished mental capacity.
Although a psychiatrist is consulted in cases involving insanity and/or diminished mental capacity, it is still a legal issue and the court must make the final decision. According to judicial precedent, it is assumed that "criminal insanity is interpreted as a condition where the ability to differentiate between right and wrong is lost due to mental disorder, which results in a person not being able to act accordingly. Diminished mental capacity is where ability to understand and act declines drastically." Mental disorder includes not only certain conditions of schizophrenia, but also pathological drunkenness and conditions where the ability to recognize is completely lost due to stimulant drug usage.
However, there is a criticism that only presence, the level of ability to recognize the situation, and the ability to control onefs action are of importance. If the essence of responsibility is understood as the ability to take action and the awareness of the possibility for legal punishment, there is no reason to determine a medical mental incapacity.
On the other hand, the concept of the gexpectation of the possibility of a legal acth is not in the text, but became necessary in common judicial precedent. Acts committed under coercion or in following with a superior officer's illegal instructions in the military forces are traditional used as examples. The scene from gLes Miserablesh where the main character steals food to avoid starvation is also an example of the problem of gexpected possibility.h
However, when only the presence/level of the ability to control oneself are viewed as important, the difference between the existence/level of the ability to be responsible and the problems associated with expected possibility becomes negligible.
Incidentally, when "religious homicide" is committed under the belief that the victim will be led to heaven, the court never takes glack of ability to be responsibleh or gunawareness of expected possibilityh as its viewpoint. A similar example would be stealing a gun for a revolution. Both would result in a conviction. Additionally, the punishment for the crime would be severe because there is a possibility of repetition of the crime, and therefore there is no reason to reduce or eliminate the punishment. There are some defense attorneys who appear to misunderstand this concept.
3. Mind control
Mind control is when a personfs belief system is changed through the use of various psychological techniques under conditions such as lack of sleep, nutrition, and information.
In the case of the Toitukyoukai cult, this resulted in the cult members believing a zen-like stage could be reached by purchasing expensive pottery and paintings. The fear they experienced when they did not purchase those items is similar to what Aum did to its believers. Aum made its members believe they should be gPoah which means being killed by the cult, so that they would not have to go to hell.
However, they realized that they were violating criminal law, so we cannot say that they were insane when the crimes were committed; even so, we cannot easily say they acted on their own will, either. Many people, including the author, have interviewed the defendants with detailed information and concluded that they were in a mental state where they could not think coherently and were like robots. Even robots try to avoid doing damage. However, the court would not easily understand this concept.
From the stance of previous court cases, mind control is considered a matter of possible expectation. However, if we assume that a physical state of gmental disabilityh is not absolutely clear, it could be considered a matter of responsibility.
Let us look at the way the court treated this psychological technique in the Aum trial, and how mind control is evaluated. There are no court cases where a defendant was found not guilty because there was no responsibility or possible expectation due to mind control, nor did it affect the length of the sentence.
However, as we can see from
the final sentencing of Inoue on
For Inoue, the following final statement was given. (The Supreme Court failed to provide its own judgment.) We can consider the outcome of this trial to represent the Japanese court systemfs understanding of mind control.
gHowever, the defendant joined the Aum cult when he was a sophomore in high school at the age of 16, and after he graduated high school, he went to live in the gym. Before the summer of his freshman year at university, he commuted to school from the gym, and after the summer, he remained in the Aum gym. He never led a life as an independent individual in regular society. He was determined to reach a zen-like stage as quickly as possible in order to save the world as required by the teachings of D.
When he first joined the Aum cult, it was not yet an armed, anti-social group. Therefore, we cannot strongly blame him for believing and following D. When the Aum cult started arming themselves and became anti-social, he had questions and conflicted feelings toward the work he was given and the way the teachings had become different from what he believed; even so, he could not go against D. This was due to the fact that he had no experience in society as an independent individual, and when compared to those who have had a job or established themselves in a certain position in society or within a family, it was difficult for him to make the decision to go against D. For Inoue, after he left home to join Aum right after he graduated high school, Aum was the place where he learned to be an independent individual and grew as a person.
Therefore, we can conclude that denying D and the time he spent in Aum would be denying everything he had done for himself and others as an individual, and it was not easy. In conclusion, he was not easily able to separate himself from the influence of D compared to other people, yet it does not change the existence of responsibility or expected possibility. The condition he was in at the time of the crime should not be treated as huge influence, but should still be considered for evaluationh.
In addition, one must say
that the influence of LSD and other stimulant drugs used in the Aum cult after
June 1994 was never discussed enough in the trial. It is widely known that
American soldiers were given stimulant drugs in the Vietnam war. Stimulant
drugs were also developed for the treatment of asthma in
In order to make them commit otherwise unthinkable acts, even an organization as rigid as the army forced its soldiers to use drugs. In addition, LSD causes powerful phantasmagoric hallucinations. Aum posted a picture of gShoko Asaharah in the room which helped members under the influence to believe that Asahara was gthe savior.h As a result, Aumfs religious concepts were solidified in the minds of its believers and the cultfs control over them was strengthened.
What has been discussed here is extremely important when deciding whether the defendants should receive a life sentence or a death penalty. Without precise examination and thorough judgment on the effects of mind control and the influence of stimulant drugs, how can the system truly come to the most appropriate decision?
Section 5. The Attorneys for the Victims of the Aum Incidents
After the police investigation on Aum began, a group of attorneys for the victims of the Aum incidents had to choose which position to take.
On one hand, we had filed
lawsuit against Aum for their crimes, and provided the necessary information on
Aum so that the people in
In an unusual turn of events, the group of attorneys was founded by Sakamoto, whose family was killed by the sons of the family members in the gVictims of Aumh group. Sakamoto and the other attorneys had started a mission to save those who had been brainwashed as Aum members. There may never have been a group of lawyers who had faced a more conflicting situation.
When I found myself the victim of an attempted sarin attack, I debated on whether I should take the role of lawyer to defend the other victims. After a long discussion, I decided to take the role only after the following three conditions were fulfilled. First, the case should not be a murder trial. Second, the defendants must separate themselves from the cult. Third, the defendants must not include any of the top people in the cult.
One of the biggest jobs I had was to find ways to help defendants think about who and what Asahara Shoko really was, and to bring them back to reality. As an example, I have already succeeded in helping a nurse who joined Aum with Ikuo Hayashi realize what Aum really is. The lawyers in this group had a great deal of knowledge regarding how people were controlled by the cult; as such, we already had ideas of how to deal with it. We knew what points we needed to argue.@Most of the points dealt with whether the defendants were aware of the crimes and whether there was criminal intent. In the Aum incidents, believers were separated into various groups; therefore, some may have not had any idea what acts the others had committed. Therefore, they did not understand the entire process of the crime itself.
Later on, approximately ten lawyers from the court-appointed defending lawyers for the Aum trials who had handled crucial cases asked for our advice to understand the truth about the Aum cult and mental state of its believers. We were able to help them with a certain level of success.
However, we would never know if our actions were for the best. This is because we were ultimately unable to help the defendants who later received life sentences and death penalties, people we had defined as gvictimsh. From the beginning, Sakamoto had wanted to help each and every young person who went on to become a perpetrator. Some people debate that the victims of the sarin attack should have had other lawyers, but we disagreed. We should have worked harder for those who had been brainwashed and became perpetrators.
A group of attorneys was
formed for the
Section 6. Asaharafs Trial
1. Chizuo Matsumoto in the court room.
The trials of the defendant Chizuo Matsumoto, a.k.a. Shokou Asahara, would appear to have little direction. However, the author would like to mention it for future purposes.
Matsumoto was arrested on
He was supposed to have his first trial at the beginning of October in 1995. Before that, he tried to hire Makoto Endo, a famous criminal lawyer, but because Asahara refused any responsibility for his actions, the lawyer denied the offer. Then, Asahara paid 20 million yen to hire another lawyer, Yokoyama, who was later expelled from the attorneysf committee. Asahara requested to make his case not guilty due to legal insanity, but fired Yokoyama on the advice of other lawyers. However, Asahara once again hired Yokoyama, but this time the trial was extended because Yokoyama was injured and could not appeal. His injury was the result of a suspicious car accident involving a vehicle driven by one of the Aum believers.
The first trial was held on
Asahara made a statement as the head of a group that was considered to have violated Subversive Activities Prevention Act. However, he never admitted to directing the incidents carried out by the Aum members. In addition, he started threatening those who stood at the court against him, starting with Inoue, by saying gYou will go to hell.h The court had to repeatedly order Asahara to leave the court room for that action.
He made a statement about
the incidents on
As the trials went on, Asahara began to refuse to speak. He wrote a statement for the trial of Hirose, but other than that he kept his silence. In the end, he refused to even see his own attorney.
The trials ended and
Asaharafs sentence was handed down without him ever having established any
relationship whatsoever with his attorney. Asahara never spoke a word in his
final presentation and was given the death penalty on
At an appeal hearing, he refused the court-appointed lawyer. He later accepted a lawyer who became the legal counsel for his daughters, but still continued to refuse to see his new lawyer.
2. Presentation from the Prosecutor
I assume they would have had to discuss psychological techniques and LSD/stimulant drug-induced mind control in order to explain why the defendants followed Asaharafs orders. If they had argued this, it would have worked on the side of the defendants, which is why the author assumes they did not touch on it.
The fact that the most important point was not discussed in the presentation will not stand up to future criticism.
In early summer of
However, throughout the trial until the final speech, the prosecution never mentioned the effects of mind control. One could only assume that this was a self-serving strategy.
3. The Court-Appointed Defense Lawyersf Argument
Meanwhile, the defending lawyers prepared an argument of 814 pages, but as the author expected, it stated that all the incidents were executed by Asaharafs followers without consulting him, and was far from persuasive. When I stood as a witness, the lawyers asked me what I thought about a scholarfs statement that gAsahara was highly spiritualh. It is a shame that they attempted to bring up religion in the trial. A criminal trial is meant to judge whether there was a crime or not. It is not a place to discuss religious arguments. The author believes that religion is about believing blindly, and that the word gspiritualityh should be considered as a religious word. In the trial, those who have nothing to say should keep silent.
Therefore, the author should have said, gPresent this spirituality here in the courtroom and Ifll be the judge.h However, the author responded, gWhat are you talking about? Are you trying to make the actor sitting behind you feel good about himself?h This is indeed regretful.
They stated in the final presentation that the defendant Matsumoto was highly respected by domestic and international religious scholars, despite the fact that the scholars later withdrew their statements. They insisted that a "genuine religious person" would not give such orders. On the other hand, followers who had become perpetrators, they argued, had taken the defendantfs words and twisted them around to fit their own purposes. As such, the crimes were committed recklessly and voluntarily by these followers without the consent of the defendant.
These arguments made by the defending lawyers are based on the assumption that a greligious personh does not commit crimes; however, they contradicted even the testimony of defendant Niimi, who still believed the defendant Matsumoto to be his Guru, not to mention various testimonies given by other defendants.
Certainly, in 1995 when Aum incidents became well known throughout society, some religious people said that gAum is not a religion.h Therefore, some may feel it necessary to argue whether Aum is indeed a religion or not.
However, it is clear that Aum is a religion because it believes in the supernatural and in superhuman existence, and it reveres and it worships it. It is similar to the belief system of Toitsukyokai, which engaged in various illegal acts and believed that their leader was even greater than Jesus Christ.
The problem is whether it is a cult that engages in destructive acts or not. A destructive cult is one whose "cult membersf or member candidates' ability to think is controlled or minimized in order to follow the orders of the cult leader. As a result, the members repeatedly engage in illegal acts (on criminal and civil affairs) for the purpose." Destructive cults and religions are not mutually exclusive. For example, determining whether an organization is religion or not is like determining whether something is 1 meter or 10 meters; determining whether the same organization is a destructive cult or not is like determining whether something is 1 kg or 10 kg.
In addition, even traditional religions that are approved by society have a history of engaging in various cruel acts when there were no rules regarding freedom of religion or principles to divide religion from politics.
If one considers this common sense, it should be apparent that it is not feasible to argue that "because the defendant was a truly religious person, he would not organize such crimes." This will surely remain as one of the more absurd arguments in legal history.
4. The First Verdict and the Future
verdict was handed down on
During the sentence, detailed findings were presented. They did not touch on whether the defendant was a truly religious person or not; however, the incidents were described as having been "brought about by cruel and vicious thinking" and that they were the most "contemptible, shameful, and horrible acts ever".
However, the fact that Matsumoto was able to make his followers take his orders was explained as simple as being the result of a relationship between the founder of a religion and its followers. This finding was insufficient, and did not demonstrate an important aspect of the events.
appeal hearing, a new private lawyer was assigned, but the defendant never
tried to meet him. It was assumed that the defendant did not have the ability
to take part in the trial because he could not even speak; therefore, it was
requested that the trial be stopped for the defendant to receive appropriate
testing. However, the Supreme Court did not accept this request, and the
deadline for submission of the appeal was merely extended from January 11 to
One could assume from the defendantfs attitude in the court room as described above that it is possible that Matsumoto was just pretending to be in such a mental condition. However, there is also a possibility that the decision was made without a substantial argument, and, if so, it would be inconceivable in Japanese legal history and some sort of corresponding action would be necessary.
Section V. Conclusion
There are other trials other than the Aum trial which focused on destructive cults. In the case of the Toitsukyokai cult, there were personnel lawsuits against annulled combination marriages, civil fraud trials, and compensation money claims for unjustified solicitations. The court recognized the abnormality of its actions and solicitation, and the psychological manipulation techniques used. Moreover, the absoluteness of the religious leader is occasionally recognized in the criminal trials related to the so-called "corpse cults", which involve large groups of cult members who murder their victims and then abandon the bodies according to their religious leader's instructions.
However, because trials in the United States are decided by a jury, they could not extend the duration of these trials long enough to thoroughly process them. @@@Additionally, they were held to determine a verdict of either gguiltyh or gnot guiltyh. Therefore, there wasnft enough examination of the brainwashing and the mind control aspects, and the record of the realities of the events and the groups behind them are lacking.
The Aum trials are the first in the world to focus on whether religious followers should receive the death penalty. Therefore, in the appeal of the Aum trial, they should reexamine gwhy Asahara was able to make not a few followers commit the acts they committedh and then make the final decision based on the findings.
The results would allow us to understand the mechanism and the realities of destructive cults and their methods of psychological manipulation. Then, we would be able to establish a way to observe their actions and take preventive measures before they commit acts such as the releasing of sarin gas.
The verdicts have been handed down for perpetuators charged with felonies one after another, including the three defendants who already received a life sentence. The court should get back to the basics and try the Aum trials so that they have meaning. Most importantly, no defendant should receive the death penalty before Chizuo Matsumoto (a.k.a. Shoukou Asahara), who is the absolute existence in the Aum cult.
Translation: Yuko Kurashige, Jeremy Clark
Proofreading: Isabel Moskowitz
Supplement to The Ten Years of the
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@on June 22 2006
1. Introduction of the author, Taro Takimoto
In addition to this,
Mr. Takimoto became involved in secession counseling in August, 1993, which
resulted in several successful withdrawals from Aum. He also took the infamous
glevitationh photograph. As a
result, he has drawn harsh criticism from the defendant, Matsumoto, and is
Mr. Takimoto has served as the JSCPR director and secretariat since November, 1995. He has collaborated on various books, such as "Escape from Mind Control", "911 for Religious Problems", "We Who Left Aum", and gObjection! The Miraculous Poet – The Truth Regarding the Dorman Method and the FCh.
2. Related Links
Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery
Corridor – Contains outline of the incidents and defendants, as well as the
Poetry – The
homepage of the Canary Club, a group of people who have left Aum (sponsored by
3. Supplement to the Text
Miyamae (from section 3-2) received a death sentence
from the supreme court on