Shoko Asahara


Shoko Asahara
Shoko Asahara
Born March 2, 1955 (1955-03-02) (age 56)
Yatsushiro, Kumamoto, Japan
Occupation Founder, Aum Shinrikyo
Spouse Tomoko
Children Rika

Shoko Asahara (麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō?), born Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo?) on March 2, 1955, is a founder of the controversial Japanese new religious group Aum Shinrikyo. He was convicted of masterminding the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and several other crimes, for which he was sentenced to death. His appeal against the sentence was unsuccessful, and he is currently awaiting execution.

Contents

Early years

Shoko Asahara was born into a large, poor family of tatami mat makers in Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture.[1] Afflicted at birth with infantile glaucoma, he went blind at a young age in his left eye and is only partially sighted in his right. As a child, Asahara was enrolled in a school for the blind.[1] Asahara graduated in 1977 and turned to the study of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, which are traditional careers for the blind in Japan,[2] and married in 1978. In 1981, Asahara was convicted of practicing pharmacy without a license and fined 200,000 yen.[3]

Asahara's religious quest reportedly started at this time, while he was intensely working to support his family.[4] He dedicated his free time to the study of various religious concepts, starting with Chinese astrology and Taoism.[5] Later, Asahara practiced Indian esoteric yoga and Buddhism.

Birth of Aum Shinrikyo

In 1987, Asahara returned from a visit to India and told his disciples that he had attained enlightenment. His closest disciples offered him money, which he could now accept, and Asahara used this money to organize an intensive yoga seminar that lasted several days and attracted many people.[citation needed] Asahara himself coached the participants, and the group quickly started to grow.

That same year Shoko Asahara officially changed his name, and applied for government registration of the group Aum Shinrikyo. The authorities were initially reluctant to accord it the status of a religious organization, but eventually granted legal recognition after an appeal in 1989. After this, a monastic order was established and many of the lay followers decided to join.

Aum Shinrikyo: the doctrine

The doctrine of Aum Shinrikyo is based on the original Buddhist sutras (scriptures) known as the Pali Canon. Other than the Pali Canon, Aum Shinrikyo uses other texts such as Tibetan sutras, Yoga-Sutra by Patanjali, and Taoist scriptures. The sutras are studied together with comments written by Shoko Asahara himself. The learning system (kyogaku system) has several stages: only those who complete a preliminary stage may advance to further steps, and only after successfully passing an examination.

Shoko Asahara has written many religious books. The best known are Beyond Life and Death, Mahayana Sutra and Initiation.

Tokyo subway gas attack, accusations, and trial

On March 20, 1995, members of Aum attacked the Tokyo Subway System with the nerve gas sarin. Thirteen people died, and thousands more suffered from after-effects. After finding sufficient evidence, authorities accused Aum Shinrikyo of complicity in the attack, as well as in a number of smaller-scale incidents. Dozens of disciples were arrested, Aum's facilities were raided, and the court issued an order for Shoko Asahara's arrest. Asahara was discovered in a very small, completely isolated room of a building belonging to Aum.

Shoko Asahara faced 27 murder counts in 13 separate indictments. The prosecution argued that Asahara "gave orders to attack the Tokyo Subway" in order to "overthrow the government and install himself in the position of Emperor of Japan". Several years later, the prosecution forwarded an additional theory that the attacks were ordered to "divert police attention" (from Aum). The prosecution also accused Asahara of masterminding the Matsumoto incident and the Sakamoto family murder. According to Asahara's defense team, a group of senior followers initiated the atrocities, keeping them a secret from Asahara. Following the events, disciples started to disseminate the teachings by way of direct coaching, something they would never do when Asahara was available for communication. A small group of those who failed to do so still formally exists.[citation needed]

During the trials, some of the disciples testified against Asahara, and he was found guilty on 13 of 17 charges, including the Sakamoto family murder, while four charges were dropped. He was sentenced to death by hanging on February 27, 2004.

The trial was called the "trial of the century" by the Japanese media. Yoshihiro Yasuda, the most experienced attorney on Shoko Asahara's defence team, was arrested and charged with obstruction of the compulsory execution concerning a corporation in which he was an adviser. He therefore was unable to participate in his legal defence, though he was acquitted before the end of the trial. Human Rights Watch criticized Yasuda's isolation. Asahara was defended by court-appointed lawyers and asked not to be defended. During the trials, Asahara resigned from his position of Aum Shinrikyo representative to try to prevent dissolution of the group.

The legal team appealed against the ruling on the grounds that Asahara was mentally unfit, and psychiatric examinations were undertaken. During the examination, conducted by a psychiatrist, Asahara never talked. However, he communicated with the staff at his detention facility, which convinced the examiner that Asahara was maintaining his silence out of free will (as stated in the report). Because his lawyers didn't submit the statement of reason for appeal, Tokyo High Court decided not to grant them leave to appeal on March 27, 2006. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Japan on September 15, 2006. Two re-trial appeals were declined by the appellate court.

Ig Nobel Prize

According to some reports, in September 2011, Asahara and several other prognosticators who incorrectly predicted various dates for the end of world were jointly awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for "teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations".[6][7] However, his name is not indicated in the winner list which was published on the official site.

See also

Further reading

  • Shoko Asahara (1988). Supreme Initiation: An Empirical Spiritual Science for the Supreme Truth. AUM USA Inc. ISBN 0-945638-00-0. —highlights the main stages of Yogic and Buddhist practice, comparing Yoga-sutra system by Patanjali and the Eightfold Noble Path from Buddhist tradition.
  • Shoko Asahara (1993). Life and Death. Shizuoka: Aum. ISBN 4871420728. —focuses on the process of Kundalini-Yoga, one of the stages in Aum's practice.
  • Berson, Tom. "Are We Ready for Chemical Warfare?" News World Communications 22 September. 1997
  • Bonino, Stefano. Il Caso Aum Shinrikyo: Società, Religione e Terrorismo nel Giappone Contemporaneo, 2010, Edizioni Solfanelli, ISBN 978-88-89756-88-1. Preface by Erica Baffelli.
  • Brackett, D W. Holy Terror: Armageddon in Tokyo. 1st ed. New York: Weatherhill, 1996.
  • Head, Anthony. "Aum's Incredible Journey Towards Armageddon." Japan Quartery Oct.-Nov. 1996: 92-95.
  • Kiyoyasu, Kitabatake. "Aum Shinrikyo: Society begets an aberration." Japan Quarterly Oct. 1995: 376-383.
  • Lifton, Robert J. Destroying the World to Save It. 1st ed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999.
  • Murakami, Haruki. Underground : The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.
  • Beckford, James A. (1998). "A Poisonous Cocktail? Aum Shinrikyo's Path to Violence". Nova Religio 1 (2): 305–6. doi:10.1525/nr.1998.1.2.305. 

References

  1. ^ a b Atkins, Stephen E. (2004). Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 27. ISBN 9780313324857. 
  2. ^ "JAPANESE ACUPUNCTURE: Blind Acupuncturists, Insertion Tubes, Abdominal Diagnosis, and the Benten Goddess", Subhuti Dharmananda, Institute for Traditional Medicine. Retrieved on 2009-07-23
  3. ^ Drozdek, Boris; John P. Wilson (2007). Voices of Trauma: Treating Psychological Trauma Across Cultures. Springer Science. p. 61. ISBN 9780387697949. 
  4. ^ Métraux, Daniel Alfred (1999). Aum Shinrikyo and Japanese youth. University Press of America. p. 11. ISBN 9780761814177. 
  5. ^ Lewis, James R.; Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2005). Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. p. 165. ISBN 9780195156836. 
  6. ^ "Winners of the 2011 Ig Nobel Awards". Boston Globe. September 29, 2011. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/09/29/winners_of_the_2011_ig_nobel_awards/?rss_id=Boston.com+--+Massachusetts+news. 
  7. ^ "Wasabi alarm, beetle sex win Ig Nobel spoof prizes". Baltimore Sun. September 29, 2011. http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/sns-rt-us-nobel-spooftre78s6vp-20110929,0,3616048.story. 

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shoko Asahara — Shōkō Asahara (jap. 麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō, bürgerlicher Name: Chizuo Matsumoto jap. 松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo; * 2. März 1955 auf Kyūshū) ist der Gründer und ehemalige Führer Ōmu Shinrikyōs (Aum Sekte). Für seine Rolle bei den Tokyoter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shōkō Asahara — Shoko Asahara, (麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō, nacido Chizuo Matsumoto (松本智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo) el 2 de marzo de 1955 en Kumamoto, Japón) fue el líder espiritual de la secta budista japonesa Aum Shinrikyo que en 1995 se haría famosa por los atentados… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Shōkō Asahara — (jap. 麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō), bürgerlicher Name Chizuo Matsumoto (jap. 松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo; * 2. März 1955 auf Kyūshū), ist der Gründer und ehemalige Führer der japanischen Sekte Ōmu Shinrikyō (Aum Sekte). Für seine Rolle bei den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Shoko Asahara — Shōkō Asahara Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫, Matsumoto Chizuo?, né en 1955), plus connu sous le nom de Shōkō Asahara (麻原 彰晃, Asahara Shōkō …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Shoko Asahara — Shoko Asahara, llamado Chizuo Matsumoto, nace en Kumamoto, Japón. Se queda ciego en su ojo izquierdo por un glaucoma infantil, y gracias a las ayudas económicas se gradúa en 1977 y empieza a estudiar Acupuntura y Medicina China. Asahara practica… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Shōkō Asahara — Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫, Matsumoto Chizuo?, né en 1955), plus connu sous le nom de Shōkō Asahara (麻原 彰晃, Asahara Shōkō …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Asahara Shoko — Shōkō Asahara (jap. 麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō, bürgerlicher Name: Chizuo Matsumoto jap. 松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo; * 2. März 1955 auf Kyūshū) ist der Gründer und ehemalige Führer Ōmu Shinrikyōs (Aum Sekte). Für seine Rolle bei den Tokyoter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Asahara Shōkō — Shōkō Asahara (jap. 麻原 彰晃 Asahara Shōkō, bürgerlicher Name: Chizuo Matsumoto jap. 松本 智津夫 Matsumoto Chizuo; * 2. März 1955 auf Kyūshū) ist der Gründer und ehemalige Führer Ōmu Shinrikyōs (Aum Sekte). Für seine Rolle bei den Tokyoter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Asahara Shoko — Shōkō Asahara Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫, Matsumoto Chizuo?, né en 1955), plus connu sous le nom de Shōkō Asahara (麻原 彰晃, Asahara Shōkō …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Asahara Shōkō — Shōkō Asahara Chizuo Matsumoto (松本 智津夫, Matsumoto Chizuo?, né en 1955), plus connu sous le nom de Shōkō Asahara (麻原 彰晃, Asahara Shōkō …   Wikipédia en Français


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