On March 20, 1995, a Monday of the dancing cherry blossoms, several hundred thousand Japanese white-collar workers walked into Tokyo subway stations as they did every day, to start the week-long busy work.
Kenichi Hirose, a 30-year-old man, made his way into Marunouchi Line with an umbrella and one plastic bag in hands. He placed the plastic bag on the floor of subway train just after 8:00 a.m. He used the tip of his umbrella to pierce the plastic bag, and then got off the subway train and disappeared in the sea of people.
In the meantime, four other men ---Toru Toyoda, Masato Yokuyama, Yasuo Hayashi and Ikuo Hayashi did the same thing on different subway lines. Inside their plastic bags was the fatally toxic sarin.
▲Scene of sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway stations
All of sudden, the poisonous gas prevailed in every corner of the five subway trains. Passengers began to convulse and struggle on the floor, with white foams out of mouths. The whole subway system was dominated by great panic. It seems as if everyone were in the doomsday.
▲Scene of sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway stations
As those survivors recalled, “I felt as if all the lights inside subway train were turned off and I could see nothing”. Then I lost my consciousness. Finally, 13 people were killed and more than 5500 people were injured. About 1036 seriously wounded people were sent to hospital, and more than 70% of them suffer torturing pains even today, including damages to their eyes, lungs, digestive systems and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
This world-shaking sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway stations was attributed to the cult Aum Shinrikyo and its leader Shoko Asahara. Kenichi Hirose and other criminals were his devoted followers.
▲Yasuo Hayashi (masker) was finally caught in 1996.
Why could Kenichi Hirose and other criminals be willingly controlled by Shoko Asahara to poison those innocent passengers?
They were essentially brainwashed by Shoko Asahara.
Many cults use the “Doomsday Fallacy” to control their followers, which is the common trick used by the cult leaders. For example, the notorious cults including Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate all spread the rumor of “Doomsday Fallacy”. Their ill-meant enchantments are a vicious trap. The ultimate purpose of stressing the “Doomsday Fallacy” is to stress the so-called “Salvation Fallacy”, in which the cult leaders take the chance to achieve self-divinization and control the minds of their followers until they can squeeze every penny out of these cheated followers.
The cults’ deceptive process in the guise of “Doomsday Fallacy” usually goes as follows:
First, some accidental or unknown natural and social phenomena that happen in the world are described as the symptoms of “doomsday”.
Then, a given date is forecasted to be the doomsday of human beings to generate a stronger terror in followers.
The next step is that the cult leaders play a role of “savior”.
Finally, people are told that they can’t get “redeemed” unless they join the cults.
The “Doomsday Fallacy” is an often-used tool in the hands of cults, In fact, it’s not an exclusively invented concept of these cults, but it has something to do with the western religions. In Bible, there’re some words about the end of days and the judgment when Lord Jesus comes again. But Christianity has a very complicated interpretation of the end of days. Many people know little about religion and tend to get misled by the “Doomsday Fallacy” invented by cults.
▲Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (partly)
What’s more, the false alarm of “Doomsday Fallacy” creates huge fears in people and fears generate mental and emotional vulnerability in people. At this time, cults can find an easy way into people’s minds. Because of their fears of “the end of days” and their attachment to the cult leaders, those innocent followers are inclined to fall victims to the greedy and lascivious cult leaders.
For example, Millerism, a cult that emerged in the early 18th century, predicted the destruction of the earth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ on October 22, 1844. About 100,000 followers believed this prophecy. Many of them disposed of all their money to welcome the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet it turned out to be a heart-broken farce.
David Koresh, the cult leader of Branch Davidians, used his vivid yet terrifying descriptions of “the Last Judgment” to deprive his panic-stricken followers of their normal judgment. So he could have a demon-like life in the heavily guarded “Apocalypse Pasture”, just like a dissolute tyrant.
When the end of days is preached, the cult frequently give an exaggerated attack against the reality so that the followers can have the “world-weariness” and even the mentality of world-aversion.
In 1978, the U.S. cult “The People’s Temple” organized the collective suicide in Guyana, which claimed a death toll of 914 people.
Shoko Asahara’s Aum Shinrikyo resorted to the same trick of Doomsday Fallacy” to induce the mentality of word-weariness and then world-aversion in his followers.
▲ Aum Shinrikyo’s leader Shoko Asahara
Aum Shinrikyo rose to its popularity in the 1980’s, a period when the busy Japanese people were spiritually void and a large variety of cults came on stage one after another. Shoko Asahara took the chance to boast of himself as a superman. He opened an arena of “Yoga Gong” in Tokyo, which was named “Aum Immortals Society”. He asked a magazine to publish a photo demonstrating his “unusual skill of floating” , which aroused huge interests from lots of followers.
▲The eye-catching photo of “unusual skill of floating”
In 1986, his book Secrets to Superpower contributed to his greater reputation. Lots of young people were convinced of his special power. They started to worship him as their “God”.
After Aum Shinrikyo was created, Shoko Asahara predicted that the doomsday is around the corner, and that “the world war will surely happen between 1997 and 2001”. He went further to claim that “our own world ----Kingdom of Aum will be built in the ruins.”
The “Doomsday Fallacy” threw a large number of followers into huge panic. Then followed huge economic gains.
In April 1990, Shoko Asahara foretold that “Comet Austin will reach the earth and Japan will be overwhelmed by sea as a result.” Accordingly, about 1200 followers spent as much as 300,000 yen to attend his special sermon in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa.
In 1992, Shoko Asahara make an undisguised statement that he was the “new savior” who could use his superpower to protect his followers against the doomsday destruction.
What came next is the indispensable “show” of any cult. He predicted that Mount Fuji would erupt several days later, an earthquake would attack Tokyo, Japan’s seal level will rise and the city would be submerged. If his prophecies came to nothing, the key members of this cult would advertise the cult leader’s so-called supernatural power among those followers.
He said in one highly provocative speech that “my followers, it’s up to you to get awakened and assist me. … I’m waiting for you to become my hands, my legs and my brain so that I can complete my mission of saving this world. Let’s join our hands and minds to complete this mission. Otherwise, we’d depart from this world regretted.”
One key member of Aum Shinrikyo said that “homicide for the sake of Shoko Asahara could be something meritorious in Aum Shinrikyo. Anyway, the killed people would have no chance to repeat their wrongdoings.”
Obviously, the followers were brainwashed by Shoko Asahara. So the tragedy on Tokyo subway system is not hard to understand.
Today, a period of 22 years has elapsed since the tragedy happened. However, as long as the “Doomsday Fallacy” is still deceiving followers and generating benefits for cults, this ill-meant lie will be exploited by cults. It’s hard to eliminate its remaining evils.
For example, Shoko Asahara still stays in prison and his execution is postponed till today for various reasons. Aum Shinrikyo takes a new name as Aleph to continue the preaching of its doctrine.
Their evil influences have even reached children. According to TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) on December 22, 2016, Aleph used the “cards of song”, which were designed exclusively for children, as the textbooks to preach Shoko Asahara’s doctrine. On them are some words like “respect for our master Shoko Asahara”.
▲Aleph’s cards of song for children
They’ve never given up their worshipping of Shoko Asahara. On October 8, 2017, the Public Security Intelligence Agency of Japan conducted the doorstep check of “Aleph” religious sect in Sapporo. According to the photos from the police, some red words like “the ceremony in honor of the 30th anniversary of the founding of Aum Shinrikyo” were posted on the wall and the human figure of a man with his hands raised in midair reminded people of Shoko Asahara.
▲The photos taken by the Public Security Intelligence Agency of Japan during its doorstep check of “Aleph” religious sect in Sapporo
▲Human figure reminding us of Shoko Asahara
Luckily, people have become much more mindful of cults. Japanese police’s “action of observation” against “Aleph” will expire in January 2018. The local residents submitted an appeal with 270,000 signatures to the police on October 27, and hoped that the “action of observation” against “Aleph” could be renewed since January 2018.
We hope that this alertness can keep everyone safe and peaceful, and prevent the possibility of any new tragedies.