Aum Shinrikyo is a cultist group blacklisted among extreme terrorist organizations in Japan. The group was established in 1984 by Shoko Asaharaand was later on renamed Aleph. It started off as a simple yoga class in Shoko’s house; however, after a number of killings, assassinations and after attacking the subway of Tokyo the group came to be known as a terrorist group in the 1990’s. Shoko Asahara was the main religious leader of the group. The beliefs of the group were a mix of his own ideas, as well as of Buddhist and Christian teachings. Asahara declared himself Christ and that he would bear people’s sins. He prophesied the doomsday and a possible World War three to be brought about by the USA. Aum Shinrikyo recruited mainly young elite graduates that had to go through an initiation ritual. These newcomers were step by step detached from the real world as the group’s beliefs were imposed on them. Besides, each of the group’s members had to form integrity with the guru, which was achieved by means of drug usage and mantras. There was also the image of the guru that the followers could look at for inspiration. Some of the leaders of the cult included Fumihiro Joyu, Masani Tsuchiya, and Murai Hideo.
Japan really tried to reduce the activities of the cult. For instance, in 1995, their original status as a religious group was taken away. The following year, 1996, they were made bankrupt. Japanese local authorities also refused to register the cult members as residents of local communities, thus the latter were deprived of such benefits as health insurance. In addition, the children of the Aum Shinrikyo’s cult members could not be registered in learning institutions. The group was also put under close supervision and check by government officials to ensure that their activities were legal and not threatening public security.
In 2006 the group leader, Shoko Asahara was sentenced to death, which greatly weakened the activities of the cult. Aum Shinrikyo was associated with 1995 sarin attacks that were the most serious attacks to have ever occurred in Japan as far modern history is concerned. They proved to the world the possibility of terrorist engagement with chemical warfare. Regarding its characteristics, sarin’s toxicity level gas is 500 times that of cyanide gas. Other attacks included 9 biological assaults in 1995, as well as a separate biological attack on an American military base killing seven and injuring 100 people.