Episode 99: Japanese Death Cult: Aum Shinrikyo

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we look at Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese “Death Cult” lead by the mysterious (and crazy) Shoko Asahara. Aum made international headlines in 1995 when they attacked the Tokyo subway system with Sarin gas killing 13 people and wounding thousands, but this bizarre cult did (and planned) a lot more than that.

Their leader, Asahara, was born mostly blind to a poor family with seven kids. Once he graduated high school, he was unable to get admitted to a college and started to study Chinese herbalism and medicine as well as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and various religions. He started his group innocently enough as a studio for yoga, but as he recruited some of the best minds from top Japanese universities, things took a dark turn.

His religious teachings started to focus on the Bible’s Revelations and even the predictions of the end of the world by Nostradamus. He became obsessed with the US and thought they would start WWIII and nuke the world. Well, we still might to be fair, but he said it would happen in 1997. Best of all, by 1992, he declared himself the new Jesus, the rightful Japanese Emperor, and the Lamb of God. Logically, this meant he needed to form groups of special soldiers who would overturn the Japanese social orders with mass killings to let him take the throne. And we thought American cult leaders had all the crazy!

So, tune in to hear about how they pulled off the Sarin attacks and a previous attack in Matsumoto. After the Subway attack, Aum went on a killing spree, trying to assassinate government officials and even attempting to detonate a Cyanide canister in a busier Tokyo Subway just a few weeks later. We discuss how they manufactured their WMDs, various murders their cult performed, and even a plan to spread poisonous gas to all of Tokyo by deploying it with a Soviet made Mil MI-17 helicopter they bought from some of their 30,000 Russian cult members. But above all that, what makes them the cult to end all cults? Anime! That’s right, theu produced anime and comic books to recruit people, and the footage (as well as a sweet dance video) can still be found on YouTube. They are totally worth watching, and this episode it totally worth listening to.

 

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