Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attack - 1995
The sarin attack on the Tokyo subway, usually referred to in the Japanese media as the Subway Sarin Incident (地下鉄サリン事件Chikatetsu Sarin Jiken), was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by members of Aum Shinrikyo on March 20, 1995.
In five coordinated attacks, the perpetrators released Sarin on several lines of the Tokyo subway, killing thirteen people, severely injuring fifty and causing temporary vision problems for nearly a thousand others. The attack was directed against trains passing through Kasumigaseki and Nagatachō, home to the Japanese government. It is the most serious attack to occur in Japan since the end of World War II.
Aum Shinrikyo is the former name of a controversial group now known as Aleph. In 1992 Shoko Asahara, the founder of Aum Shinrikyo published a landmark book, in which he declared himself "Christ", Japan's only fully enlightened master and identified with the "Lamb of God". He outlined a doomsday prophecy, which included a Third World War, and described a final conflict culminating in a nuclear "Armageddon", borrowing the term from the Book of Revelation 16:16. His purported mission was to take upon himself the sins of the world, and he claimed he could transfer to his followers spiritual power and ultimately take away their sins and bad works. He also saw dark conspiracies everywhere promulgated by Jews, Freemasons, the Dutch, the British Royal Family, and rival Japanese religions. The Japanese police initially reported that the attack was the cult's way of hastening an apocalypse. The prosecution said that it was an attempt to bring down the government and install Shoko Asahara, the group's founder, as the "emperor" of Japan. Asahara's defense team claimed that certain senior members of the group independently planned the attack, but their motives for this were left unexplained.
Aum Shinrikyo first began their attacks on 27 June 1994 in Matsumoto, Japan. With the help of a converted refrigerator truck, members of the cult released a cloud of sarin which floated near the homes of judges who were overseeing a lawsuit concerning a real-estate dispute which was predicted to go against the cult. From this one event, 500 people were injured and seven people died.