The Risk of Religious Freedom : Asking the Meaning of Terrorism by Aum Shinrikyo

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Global society in the 21st century cannot help facing terrorism by religious extremists and damage by "cults" that conduct illegal recruitment and fundraising. In Japan Aum scattered sarin gas in the subways in 1995 and killed twelve and injured more than 5,500 citizens. It took ten years for Asahara, the founder of Aum, to receive a death sentence in Tokyo District Court and his disciples who committed homicides received the same penalties as well as life sentences. However,by just judging them Japanese society can not avoid danger of terrorism by "cults". At least, Aum changed its name to Aleph but as it kept its dogma and its organization, it maintains approximately 1,500 followers. According to "religious freedom" which was guaranteed in the Constitution,Japan tolerates the people who have various beliefs and religious corporations that are called "cults". In this article, in chapter 1 similarities and differences between the terrorism by Islamic extremists in recent years and the Aum case will be considered. Chapter 2 describes the religious characteristics of Aum from the relation between the founder and the disciples and in chapter 3, an overview of the Aum trial will be explained. Chapters 4 and 5 review a discussion argued in court,over whether disciples were mind-controlled by the founder of this cult. Then,in chapter 6,characteristics of a risk society will be scrutinized,and it will be concluded that it is inevitable that "the cult problem" occurs and various measures against it are taken. "Religious freedom" increases risk of the religious problems. Risk management and regulation obstruct liberty and democratic society. In this dilemma,we have no choice but to cope carefully with the problems of modern society.


  • Journal of the Graduate School of Letters

    Journal of the Graduate School of Letters (1), 31-43, 2006-02

    Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University


  • NII Article ID (NAID)
  • Text Lang
  • Article Type
    departmental bulletin paper
  • ISSN
  • Data Source
    NII-ELS  IR 
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