Key Events in Japanese Cult History


The Associated Press/January 28, 2000

Key events in the history of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult, accused in the 1995 sarin gas attack on Tokyo subways:

July 1987: Aum Shinri Kyo is founded by guru Shoko Asahara.

November 1989: Tsutsumi Sakamoto, a lawyer leading a legal crusade against Aum, is kidnapped with his wife and baby. Their bodies are later found buried in the mountains.

June 1994: Seven people are killed and more than 200 are sickened by nerve gas in a residential area in Matsumoto, central Japan.

February 1995: Kiyoshi Kariya, a Tokyo notary public who is trying to persuade his sister to leave Aum, is abducted and later dies.

March 1995: Sarin spreads through Tokyo's subways during morning rush hour, killing 12 and sickening about 5,500. The head of the National Police Agency is shot and seriously wounded.

April 1995: Hideo Murai, a top cult official, is fatally stabbed by a suspected gangster before a crowd of reporters and police.

May 1995: Asahara is arrested. A letter bomb explodes in Tokyo City Hall, seriously injuring the governor's aide.

April 1996: Asahara's trial opens in Tokyo District Court.

October 1998: Cult official Kazuaki Okazaki is convicted of killing the Sakamoto family and a cult member who had tried to quit the group. Okazaki is sentenced to death.

December 1999: Parliament passes laws designed to rein in Aum. Fumihiro Joyu, a cult leader who was not charged in the subway gassing, is released from prison.


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