Asahara, Shoko


Asahara, Shoko
▪ 1996

      At the end of 1995, self-styled messiah Shoko Asahara was in prison facing charges of having masterminded a series of crimes that included murder, kidnapping, and manufacturing sarin, the poisonous nerve gas that caused thousands of casualties when released in a Tokyo subway.

      Chizuo Matsumoto, who changed his name to Shoko Asahara, was born in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, on March 2, 1955. At the age of six, he was sent to a school for the blind to learn how to cope with severely impaired vision. After graduating in 1975, he failed to gain admission to the School of Medicine at Kumamoto University, so he studied acupuncture and pharmaceuticals.

      In 1975 he tried to enter Tokyo University but was unsuccessful. He then opened his own pharmacy, specializing in Chinese medicaments, in nearby Chiba. In 1982 he was arrested for selling fake remedies. After his business went bankrupt, he started a yoga school and sold health drinks.

      Asahara, assisted by his wife, set up Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) in 1987 and began producing numerous books that included a prediction that Armageddon would come with a gas cloud from the United States as early as 1997. By 1989, when the Tokyo metropolitan government granted Aum Shinrikyo legal status as a religious organization, Asahara had begun calling himself the "Holy Pope," "Saviour of the Country," and "Tokyo's Christ." He usually dressed in satiny pajamas, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong, and boasted that he could levitate and bestow superpower on his disciples. The cult, which honoured Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration, claimed to have 10,000 followers in Japan and 20,000 abroad, mainly in Russia, and regional offices in the U.S., Germany, and Sri Lanka. Many of Asahara's followers came from prosperous families and were well educated. The top Aum leaders held degrees in such fields as law, biotechnology, medicine, chemistry, computer science, and rocket technology. All were expected to donate everything they owned to the cult. Cult members ate rice and stewed vegetables once or twice a day, often fasting in Buddhist fashion. They performed yoga exercises, and some acolytes at the Yamanashi training centre wore helmets equipped with electrodes, which were reported to increase their alpha waves. Devoted worship was rewarded with a drink from the "miracle pond"—Asahara's bathwater. Asahara dispatched trusted lieutenants to buy chemicals, obtain licenses to fly Russian military helicopters, and buy the aircraft and secondhand weaponry. His attempt to gain a voice in national politics failed miserably when all 25 Aum Shinrikyo candidates who ran for seats in the lower house of the Diet in 1990 were defeated.

      (KAY K. TATEISHI)

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • 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

  • 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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