Free Press Journal

Aum cultist sentenced to five years in prison in Japan


Tokyo: A former member of the Aum Supreme Truth cult, who spent 17 years on the run after the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo, was sentenced today to five years in prison over a separate crime.

The Tokyo District Court handed the sentence to Naoko Kikuchi, 42, for her role in a parcel bombing at the Tokyo metropolitan government in 1995 which seriously injured one official.

Kikuchi, who had been one of only two remaining members of the Aum Supreme Truth doomsday cult at large, was arrested in June 2012. Less than two weeks later, the final fugitive was also arrested.

Kikuchi was exempted from prosecution for the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway that killed 13 people and injured thousands of others with sarin, first developed by the Nazis.

The cult was led by Shoko Asahara, a partially blind guru who preached a blend of Buddhist and Hindu dogma mixed with apocalyptic messages, and developed an obsession with sarin gas, becoming paranoid that his enemies would attack him with

Asahara was arrested at a commune near Mount Fuji two months after the attack on Tokyo and sentenced to hang, having been convicted of crimes resulting in multiple deaths. He remains on death row, along with 12 others.

The guru used a mix of charisma, mysticism and raw power to commit one of Japan’s most shocking crimes with his disciples, who included doctors and engineers educated at elite Japanese institutions.