Police arrested a senior member of the Japanese religious cult known as AUM. The cult group is responsible for releasing sarin gas, a nerve agent, which killed 15 people and injured thousands of others in Tokyo’s subway system.
After 17 years as a fugitive, police approached the now 40 year old Naoko Kikuchi and asked her name. She told them and was arrested Saturday night in Sagamihara. Kikuchi, is one of the last two fugitives of the 200 member cult group, Aum Shinrikyo.
Aum Shinrikyo leader, Shoko Asahara, was convicted in the plot after a 7 year trial. He was sentenced to death and was hung. There is one remaining suspect is still at large, identified as Katsuya Takahashi, 54.
I worked in Tokyo during those days. I remember the look of uncertainty on the looks of those on the street. Every trash can on the street was sealed shut. People were on their guard. I remember one day in Shibuya looking for a place to throw away my lunch bag. Once I found a receptacle, my empty bag was inspected by a sanitation worker before I could dispose of it. It was surreal, like everything in was happening in slow motion. I vividly remember passersby stopping a looking at me. Fear of Aum Shinrikyo had a full grip on the people of Tokyo.
As the weeks passed, I recall seeing police cars rushing from place to place in the city. One day, near Shibuya Station, 50 or so cars surrounded the Hachiko exit with lights blaring. It didn’t look real. I was especially shocked by the visual since the Hachiko exit is synonymous with peace and friendship to Tokyoites who love the story of Hachiko.
I will never forget the tension I felt along with the millions who live and work is such a vibrant city. The sense of being under siege was very intimidating. Knowing who to trust and no to trust amongst millions of people you don’t know is overwhelming. I know from my first hand experience that terror is terrifying.
- Police Arrest Most-Wanted Fugitive: Aum Shinrikyo Cultist Naoko Kikuchi (japanprobe.com)
- Universities learned the lesson of cult mischief, get proactive (japantimes.co.jp)
- 17th anniversary of Aum’s subway gas attack marked (japantimes.co.jp)
- You: 17th anniversary of Aum’s subway gas attack marked (japantimes.co.jp)
- Cultist who hid Aum fugitive gets 14 months (japantimes.co.jp)
- Judge who gave Aum guru death to oversee Ozawa trial (japantimes.co.jp)
- 17th anniversary of Aum’s subway gas attack marked | The Japan Times Online (constitutionclub.org)
- How a cult created a chemical weapons program (boingboing.net)