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As this study was about to go to press, there occurred what many considered to be the first true case of the use of chemical agents by terrorists in a major attack on civilians. On the morning of 20 March 1995, small containers described by eyewitnesses as being wrapped in newspaper and covered with clear plastic bags about the size of lunch boxes132 were placed on five trains running on three major lines of the Tokyo subway system (Marunouchi, Chiyoda, and Hibiya). The trains were scheduled to arrive at the Kasumigaseki station within four minutes of each other at the height of the morning rush hour, between 8:09 and 8:13 a.m.133. The press was to report later that police authorities suspected the containers to be a type of binary chemical weapon in which the constituent elements of sarin were brought together to form the poisonous gas just prior to its release (apparently by the breaking of bottles) in the crowded cars (T.Watanabe 1995; AP 1995a; Strasser et al. 1995: 37)134. The result was twelve dead and over 5,500 injured, as gas spread through the trains and affected passengers were disgorged at 16 separate stations along the route. Two of the subway lines were shut down and 26 stations closed.
The station towards which the cars were converging, Kasumigaseki, was located in the heart of Tokyo's government district, adjacent to many Ministries and-perhaps most significant-directly in front of the National Police Agency (NPA) Headquarters. Some commentators immediately began to speculate that the attack was targeted on NPA officers arriving for the start of their morning shift at 8:30 a.m. (Reid 1995b; AP 1995f)135. Given the indiscriminateness of the attack and the lack of any claim of responsibility, however, others failed to discern any precise political motive beyond an apparent desire to cause panic and demonstrate the vulnerability of the civilian population-and by extension, that of the government-to attacks of this kind136.
Some commentators evidently anticipated that the Tokyo attack was but a prelude to the issuing of demands by the perpetrators. Kyle Olson, for example, told ABC News Nightline: "My sense...is that this group is either operating with motivations that we can't understand, or possibly hasn't reached the point where they've made their big play yet" (ABC 1995: 5). Similarly, journalist James Adams noted: "If the name of the game is terrorism, then what you want to do is to terrorize, and what better way of doing it than to carry out a series of apparently random attacks with no demands, have the government in a state of panic, the people in a state of panic, and when you've reached your point of ultimate terrorization, you then move in" (ABC 1995: 5).137
A month after the attack, and long after a Japanese religious cult had become the focus of suspicions, Michelle Gosling of the London-based Cult Information Centre was reported to have noted that "some groups did try to precipitate events that would fulfil predictions that the end is nigh." In her words: "I would hazard a guess...that by carrying out a dreadful act like a gas attack they would be able to say 'our prophecies are true and the only way of you surviving is by joining the group'" (Fox 1995). Perhaps the simplest explanation was the most convincing, however. As Akira Fukushima, a professor of criminal psychology at Tokyo's Sophia University, put it: "It's a kind of demonstration that shows how much power they have and says: 'This is what happens if you touch us'. Whether this kind of thing happens again depends on how this message is received. It's very hard to predict" (Moffett 1995h)138.
Commentators also expressed surprise that, given the toxicity of sarin and the nature of the target, the casualty toll had not in fact been much higher139. Some attributed the relatively low level of fatalities to the inefficiency of the chosen means of dissemination. Robert Kupperman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, for example, was quoted as saying that "Had the terrorists come up with a decent aerosol delivery system,...they would have killed 300 people or more" (Greve 1995)140. Kathleen Bailey of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories apparently assumed that the terrorists had deliberately avoided mass fatalities, stating that "I think they were just trying to say, 'We have it and are prepared to use it'" and "If they'd wanted to kill, they could have killed everybody they hospitalized" (Greve 1995).
Others suggested that the agent may simply have been impure, perhaps deliberately diluted either for self-protection of the attackers141 or to keep the number of fatalities low. This theory appeared confirmed by the discovery early on of traces of another substance, acetonitrile (or methyl cyanide), which "chemical experts" said could have been used to dilute the gas (Moosa 1995b)142. Kyle Olson of the US-based Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute later ascribed the low number of fatalities to "a variety of factors, including the small quantity of chemicals used, the relatively low grade of sarin, the rapid response of Tokyo police and emergency personnel, and the unusually powerful air exchange systems installed in many Tokyo subway stations" (JT 1995b). Visiting US medical experts quoted on 31 March agreed that prompt emergency care had saved "many lives" (Reuters 1995d).
In the days following the subway attack, as the casualty toll continued to mount, suspicion fell on a rather obscure Japanese religious sect, the Aum Shinri Kyo (or "Supreme Truth"), whose leader, Shoko Asahara, had in the past demonstrated an unusual interest in chemical and biological warfare.143 Two days after the attack, large numbers of police officers began massive raids on the sect's many facilities throughout Japan, on the pretext of searching for kidnap victims (since there was no immediate evidence linking it to the subway attack). At one location in particular, a compound or commune at Kamikuishiki in the vicinity of Mount Fuji 100 km west of Tokyo, they discovered extensive facilities for the manufacture of chemical weapons and huge stockpiles of the chemicals themselves, including all of the necessary ingredients for the manufacture of sarin. However, despite repeated searches over many consecutive days, the authorities were unable to come up with a "smoking gun" linking the sect directly to the Tokyo attack. Only gradually did sufficient evidence emerge to enable them to make the necessary connection between Aum and the Tokyo incident, as well as other, earlier instances of sarin poisoning or contamination in Japan.
These latter incidents-most of which became known outside of Japan only in the aftermath of the Tokyo attack-led many observers to conclude that the Japanese authorities should not have been surprised by the subway attack when it occurred144, nor by the identity of the presumed perpetrator, the Aum sect145.
First of all, there had been a series of unexplained incidents leading up to the subway attack that might have suggested that terrorists were experimenting with poisonous gas. The most significant of these occurred in the mountain resort of Matsumoto, 125 miles northwest of Tokyo, late in the evening of 27 June 1994. A substance later identified as sarin seeped through the open windows of apartments and houses, killing or injuring every living thing inside an area 500 yards long by 100 yards wide. Seven people died and some 264 sought hospital treatment. Suspicion initially fell on a former chemical salesman at whose residence various chemicals were seized, and who was believed to have released the gas accidentally in attempting to produce a home-made herbicide. However, police later dismissed him as a suspect and continued unsuccessfully to pursue what they considered to be a murder investigation.
Ironically, an in-depth story on the Matsumoto incident appeared in the London Sunday Times of 19 March 1995, just one day prior to the Tokyo subway attack. It reported that there had been "an intensive investigation involving a special sarin unit of Tokyo's metropolitan police department criminal investigation laboratory, the national police agency and the security services" that had "concluded that the attack was a trial run by terrorists of the delivery system" of a chemical agent146. The story also quoted Kyle Olsen, executive vice-president of the Washington-based Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, who had "recently visited Matsumoto to make a special study of the case," that "Based on the evidence, it is very clear that this was a deliberate use of a chemical weapon against an unprotected civilian population." Finally, the newspaper reported that "After further analysis of [Olsen's] findings, western intelligence agencies supported his judgment" (Annells and Adams 1995: 2)147.
A few months after the Matsumoto incident (but not reported until after the Tokyo attack), in September 1994 an anonymous letter had been sent to the Japanese media, hinting that nerve-gas attackers could target the Tokyo Dome. The letter was also said to have "correctly predicted that the next target would be Tokyo's subways" (Reuters 1995e). One listing of previous incidents notes, without providing any further details, that on 1 September 1994 "more than 230 people in western Japan suffer[ed] rashes and eye irritation from unknown fumes" (Greve 1995)148. In a more widely-reported case, late on 5 March 1995, a colourless gas had filled a train car on the Keihin Kyuko rail line between Yokohama and Tokyo and overcome 19 of 80 passengers, the victims complaining of headaches, blurred vision and nausea. Eleven had been hospitalized, but there were no fatalities. According to one report: "Police and firefighters searched the car but found nothing suspicious" (JTW 1995a: 5). Just ten days later, on 15 March 1995, authorities in Tokyo found three attache cases at the Kasumigaseki subway station holding "containers of clear liquid, a powerful battery-operated vaporizer and a fan to blow the resulting vapor through vents" (Nelan 1995: 26); at least one of the cases was emitting a kind of vapour. Although the liquid in question proved to be water, authorities reportedly stepped up security at the station afterwards (AP 1995b).149
Apart from these unexplained incidents, the Aum Shinri Kyo sect in particular had been associated with the use, claimed use, or consideration of use of chemical and biological agents including sarin (again, much of what follows became widely known only in the aftermath of the Tokyo attack). As far back as July 1993, officials had been refused entry to its buildings in Tokyo, after more than 100 nearby residents had complained of noxious white fumes emanating from them (Greve 1995; AP 1995c). In a March 1984 sermon in Kochi, the sect's leader, Asahara, had reportedly said that "The law in an emergency is to kill one's opponent in a single blow, for instance the way research was conducted on soman and sarin during World War II" (Van Biema 1995: 24). Asahara was also reported to have confided that his own "first death" would be "caused by something like a poison gas such as sarin" (Kristof and Wudunn 1995: A6).
In July 1994, residents of Kamikuishiki complained of eye and nose irritation and nausea caused by unidentified fumes coming from the sect compound there. According to one report, the villagers had "filed a formal complaint with police against the sect, but the sect countered with a defamation suit against the villagers, claiming hostile local residents had used sarin to try to evict the sect" (Reuters 1995f). Police investigators detected "a compound that may have been derived from sarin" in soil near the Aum facility, but reportedly "No investigation ensued...because no one had been harmed" (Moosa 1995b)150. Asahara and his followers claimed that the residue found at Kamikuishiki was the result of attempts by the government to poison cult members by having military helicopters and jets spray sarin on its communes (Miyatake 1995: B1). They were also said to have filed a lawsuit accusing a Japanese businessman of introducing sarin into their headquarters in central Japan (Weiner 1995)151.
In a book published on 2 March 1995 entitled Disaster Approaches the Rising Sun Country, Aum depicted nerve gas as "the new weapon of Armageddon." According to one report, the book "details characteristics of sarin and two other nerve gases, precautions on how to mix them and how to treat symptoms if exposed" (T.Watanabe 1995). However, another report maintains that the book portrays Aum "as a victim, not an attacker," with the subway, for example, figuring as a shelter from attack (AP 1995a). Just twelve days before the Tokyo attack, Aum's leaders reportedly sent a written "last warning" calling members to an emergency meeting and claiming that the sect faced attack by "biological weapons" (Strasser et al. 1995: 40).
That Japanese police suspected Aum of possessing chemical agents was suggested by a 24 March 1995 television report that police had trained with the Self Defence Forces (SDF) on the use of gas masks a day before the subway attack, in preparation for a raid on the group that had originally been planned for December152. This led to speculation that the subway attack might have been a pre-emptive strike on Aum's part (T.Watanabe 1995). Other sources reported that police had asked the SDF for gas masks and other chemical protective gear on 17 March (JT 1995a), and had used it in a raid on Aum's Osaka headquarters the day before the Tokyo attack (Strasser et al. 1995: 40).
As noted earlier, police conducted a series of massive raids on Aum facilities beginning two days after the Tokyo attack. The initial raid on the compound at Kamikuishiki on 22 March was reported to have yielded 34 "large containers" of acetonitrile (described by some sources as "a solvent used in making nerve gas" (CP 1995a), by others as being used to make sarin "readily portable" (JT 1995a)), as well as "industrial-sized gas tanks, air coolers and generators" (CP 1995a). After a raid the following day, police were said to have found 200 drums or "about two tons" of toxic chemicals, equipment that could be used to produce sarin, and a variety of chemical protective gear including gas masks and body suits, as well as "a magazine being prepared for publication that warned that poison-gas attacks or other calamities would kill 90 per cent of people living in major cities" (Holley 1995a).
Chemicals later reported to have been seized included sodium fluoride and phosphorus trichloride-described by a Tokyo chemistry professor as "the main ingredients of sarin"-as well as "huge amounts of other dangerous chemicals such as cyanide compounds, packed in heavy-duty paper, some of which were ripped open" (Moffett 1995a). Other reports listed the seized chemicals as including sodium cyanide, acetonitrile, chloroform, ethanol, cyabide, potassium iodide, sulfuric acid, acetone, ether, atropine (a sarin antidote), ammonium chloride, tri-chlorophosphate (or phosphorus trichloride), isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol), and sodium fluoride, with the latter three being described as ingredients of sarin. As for amounts, police were reported to have found about 500 metal drums of phosphorus trichloride and "several forklift pallets stacked with sodium fluoride alone" (Kristof 1995b)153.
By 25 March, police were said to have found "several hundred tons" of 40 different kinds of chemicals at Kamikuishiki and warehouses in other cities rented by four dummy companies (Kattoulas 1995a). One newspaper cited a police estimate that the amount of chemicals confiscated (which it put at approximately 150 tons) could produce enough sarin (50 tons) to kill 4.2 million people (Kristof 1995c)154. Another newspaper estimated that the amount-based on the lethal doses of the individual chemicals found-could kill as many as 10 million (Kristof 1995c). Also on 25 March, police were reported to have linked the chemical residue found in Kamikuishiki in July 1994 with that found both in Matsumoto in June 1994 and after the Tokyo subway attack (Reuters 1995g). Gas chromatography analysis was reported to have identified the residue from the three samples as being methylphosphine acid diisopropyl and related substances, in precisely the same proportions155. According to the Japanese news agency Kyodo: "The analysis proved the same people produced the three samples using an identical method" (Kattoulas 1995b). This finding apparently resulted in a new charge of "murder preparation" being laid against Aum suspects.
At a press conference in Washington on 28 March, after returning from a research trip to Tokyo, Kyle Olson reported that the large-scale air extraction apparatus found at Kamikuishiki gave Aum the capability to manufacture tabun, a far deadlier nerve agent than sarin (JT 1995b).
Further details of the facilities at Kamikuishiki emerged in the following weeks. They were said to include a four-storey chemical factory still under construction, "complete with a half-finished computer control room," known as the "Seventh Satian"; and a chemical warehouse known as the "Sixth Satian" (Kattoulas 1995c). On 2 April, police were reported to have found at "Satian No.7" a chemical known as methyliodide and described as "essential during the process of producing sarin using the three substances" identified earlier (Kyodo 1995a). Among the equipment found were "industrial power generators and two devices, a gas chromatography machine and a photo spectroscope, each of which can be used to help synthesize the chemicals into deadly compounds" (Benkoil 1995). On 7 April, police were reported to have found a chemical called methylphosphon acid monoisopropyl, "which can only be created when sarin decomposes" and which therefore "proved that sarin had been present at the facility" (but not necessarily that Aum had made it) (Moffett 1995b).
On 2 April, it was reported that an Aum member arrested for a traffic violation had been found in possession of a "duralumin" case of the same type as that found in the Kasumigaseki subway station on 15 March. According to this report, the devices in question were "composed of a vibration machine, a fan, a pipe filled with water and a compressor, among others-which [were] designed to generate steam when the water pipe was shaken by the vibrator. The device could be remote controlled by ultrasonic waves" (Mainichi Daily News 1995g).
A 4 April raid on Tomizawa, near Mount Fuji, "said to have housed Aum's chemical research group," was reported to have discovered a two-storey building with a chemical lab "even larger than the one" found earlier (AP 1995d)156 On 5 April, it was reported that two Aum members had bought two radio-controlled miniature helicopters in November 1993, ostensibly to convert them into crop dusters with pesticide-spraying equipment that they already had. The helicopters were each capable of carrying up to 8 kg of equipment (Daily Yomiuri 1995k)157. The following day, an informant was reported to have told police that the cult had stashed 25,000 plastic bags of diluted sarin in the mountains-"enough to kill millions" (Ottawa Citizen 1995a). Finally, a week later, there was a report that police had compared the quantity of chemicals purchased by the sect with that recovered during the raids on its warehouses, and found a discrepancy sufficient to produce 5.6 tons of sarin-again, enough "to kill many millions" (Kristof 1995d)158.
Perhaps most frightening, the police raids uncovered evidence that Aum Shinri Kyo was also experimenting with biological agents, and even investigating nuclear weapons through the enrichment of uranium. On 28 March, the police were reported to have confiscated at Kamikuishiki "an advanced DNA device and 200 large containers of peptone, a solution used to cultivate bacteria and other micro-organisms" (Kattoulas 1995d)159, as well as "quantities of clostridium botulinum" (botulinus toxin) (AP 1995e)160. A report the following day referred to "a DNA analyser which could be used when producing biological weapons" (Kattoulas 1995c).
On 30 March, the Japan Times reported that police had confiscated "special temperature-control containers" (for cultivating bacteria cells), as well as "bacteria-killing equipment." Judging by the purchase dates of the former, they reportedly suspected that the sect had begun cultivating bacteria fully 2 1/2 years before, in 1992. Starting about the same time, Aum had "also purchased other experimental glass apparatus continuously through last September  at an estimated total cost of Y10 million," according to the report (JT 1995b). On 3 April, the twelfth day of the search, police reportedly "removed incubators, electron microscopes and 300 biochemical books, including recipes for botulinum" (Lloyd-Parry 1995a). A later account described the incubators as being "of a new type and...fairly large in size compared to what is generally used," while the facility in which they were found was said by "experts" to be "of a size found at major pharmaceutical companies and...capable of producing a massive amount of bacteria" (Daily Yomiuri 1995n).
On 12 April, police were said to believe that Aum had "cultivated cholera and other 'special' bacilli," the report noting that "several notebooks seized" had "included data based on such experiments." The books and equipment, including "some materials for the cultivation of botulinus bacilli," were reportedly found in a prefabricated building behind the No. 10 Satian Building, while the peptone was seized from the No. 6 Satian Building, the previously-identified chemical warehouse (Daily Yomiuri 1995a). On 22 April, the Mainichi Daily News reported that confiscated computer disks showed detailed plans for a four-storey bacterial research facility, including a decontamination room with a dry shower, to be headed by an Aum graduate from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (1995a).
It was reported in mid-May that the sect's "Health and Welfare Minister," genetic engineer Seiichi Endo, had "visited a major research institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, around May 1993, purchasing materials necessary for gene recombination and cells for promoting the multiplication of viruses." He had also predicted in a book published by Aum that "new microbes and biological weapons produced through gene technology will be used in the next world war" (JTW 1995d). Finally-and perhaps most chilling of all-there were reports in late May of Aum's interest in the Ebola virus. In this regard, Aum was reported to have sent a "medical" mission to Zaire in 1992. And during a radio broadcast from Moscow in December 1994 (a transcript of which had been printed in a cult publication in March 1995), Endo was said to have listed Ebola, together with smallpox and yellow fever (as well as botulism and aflatoxin bacteria) as potential biological warfare agents (Toronto Globe and Mail 1995b).
Earlier in the search, police had found evidence of Aum interest in the technology of nuclear weapons, as well. Thus, on 2 April, police reportedly discovered a classified document on uranium enrichment technology, belonging to a "major heavy machine maker" (later identified as a Japanese contractor for nuclear power plants), among the belongings of an Aum follower arrested in Shiga Prefecture. The document, marked "Top Secret," was said to "describe a technique for enriching uranium using laser beams" (Lloyd-Parry 1995a). A later report even mentioned the discovery of "laser equipment which could be used to enrich uranium" (Reuters 1995h), while still later it was reported that Aum had actually "experimented with an expensive laser beam that could be used to enrich uranium" (Moosa 1995g).
From the beginning of the investigation, Asahara (who remained in hiding) and other cult spokesmen stridently denied having had anything to do with the Tokyo subway attack or the Matsumoto incident161. To explain the chemical stockpiles that had been uncovered by the police raids, Asahara in a taped television message on 24 March maintained that sodium fluoride was used to make pottery (a claim contradicted by a Tokyo pottery professor), and phosphorous trichloride "to make plastic materials and also as a herbicide" (Moffett 1995c). In succeeding weeks, the chemical stockpiles were explained away variously as being necessary for the self-sufficiency of the cult in view of its ostracization by neighbouring communities (Toronto Globe and Mail 1995a); as necessary for its self-chosen "self-sufficient lifestyle" (Kristof 1995c); as preparation for the coming Armageddon (Moffett 1995d), particularly "to help agriculture recover from an apocalypse" (Kristof 1995d); as being used "for welding and processing computer chips" (the sect ran its own computer business) (Moffett 1995a); as being "used for agricultural and other peaceful purposes" (Reuters 1995i); and as being used "in making toothpaste, plastic food containers and fertilizers for farms that have not yet been bought" (Toronto Globe and Mail 1995a)162.
Similarly, the group fingered a number of different culprits for the Tokyo attack. At first, the sect issued a statement saying that "we think state authorities planned this conspiracy" (Moffett 1995e). Subsequent statements by Asahara and other Aum officials blamed the subway attack on Japan-based US military forces (Eckert 1995a; Reid 1995a); on Japanese police, in order to "defame" the cult (Reid 1995a); on "a group affiliated with state authorities" (Kattoulas 1995b); on a "rival" Japanese Buddhist group, the Soka Gakkai (with several million members), out to "frame" Aum (Moffett 1995d); and on "some foreign terrorist or military-related person of a foreign country, maybe a Third World or developing country...testing out their latest chemical weapons" (Moffett 1995b).
As before, Aum continued to maintain that it had itself been the victim of chemical and/or biological attacks by others. In a video message to his followers on 24 March, Asahara reiterated his claim that US aircraft in January 1995 had sprayed him and hundreds of Aum members with "poisonous gases such as sarin and mustard gas" (JTW 1995b)163. He also claimed that he and fully half of his 1,700 "followers" were suffering from Q-fever as a result of being sprayed with Q-fever rickettsia (TBS 1995). A few days later, spokesman Fumihiro Joyu (identified as the former head of Aum's Moscow branch) told a Tokyo morning talk show that sect facilities in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya had been "hit with low-level poisons, including possibly sarin" (Kattoulas 1995e). Even the Moscow branch, at a press conference held in the Russian capital, claimed that "a couple of months" previously it had been "sprayed with poisonous substances" (without specifying the types or identifying the alleged perpetrators) (Pushkar 1995).
In the weeks following the Tokyo attack, it became known that Aum included among its members many highly- trained graduates in the sciences from some of Japan's leading universities. They reportedly included personnel with degrees in such fields as medicine, biochemistry (including a "bacteria and genetic specialist"), architecture, biology, and genetic engineering (AP 1995a; Moffett 1995f). They were said to have been attracted to the cult by its emphasis on the use of computers and scientific experimentation, and lured by the promise of relevant work and laboratory facilities (Kristof and Wudunn 1995; Parry 1995)164. As part of an elaborate "shadow government"-type structure, Aum ran a Science and Technology Agency or "Ministry" said to number 270 followers, including "about 30" scientists (Daily Yomiuri 1995b). According to one report, the "Ministry" was further divided into teams specializing in chemistry, biology, physics, and medicine (Moffett 1995f). On 17 April 1995, police were said to have found a journal kept by the "Science and Technology Ministry" quoting Asahara as ordering the production of sarin (Reuters 1995j). The following day, it was reported that Aum had formed a joint team of scientists from three of its "ministries" two years previously to produce and test sarin at Kamikuishiki. In this connection it had begun "to recruit college students majoring in engineering and chemistry while at the same time it started buying equipment" (Reuters 1995k)165.
The chemicals that the group had stockpiled reportedly came courtesy of two paper companies whose executive was a cult member and which had bought a large amount of the chemical ingredients of sarin months before the Matsumoto incident (T.Watanabe 1995). Reference has also been made to "dummy" companies controlled by the cult, as well as apparently legitimate chemical companies owned by its members (Kristof 1995c). According to one report: "Two of the companies were set up by a 26-year-old Aum member who was trained as a pharmacist, and his companies then bought products from other chemical companies....Another chemical distribution company, this one set up by a 59-year-old doctor who is an Aum member, also apparently engaged in transactions on behalf of the sect" (Kristof 1995c)166. Aum was reported to have bought a sophisticated "nerve-gas detector" from Russia (found at Kamikuishiki) as a result of supposed connections with senior Russian officials close to President Yeltsin (T.Watanabe 1995)167. Finally, in connection with the biological pathogens reportedly found at the Kamikuishiki complex (and which are customarily kept at some medical research laboratories), it was noted that the cult owned various medical facilities including a Tokyo hospital (AP 1995e).
Also during the weeks following the Tokyo attack, a clear motive for Aum's involvement in the earlier Matsumoto attack became evident. Apparently, several judges who were hearing a case about a land dispute involving the sect were living in the neighbourhood attacked. According to one account: "One of the judges, Kiyoshi Aonuma, who was to write the opinion in the case, was particularly affected by the sarin, and he and his wife were hospitalized. Because of his poor health, a judgment in the case was postponed" (Kristof 1995c). Another report appeared to confirm this version of the story:
In 1991 Aum was involved in a land dispute in the city of Matsumoto. Last June  the hearings had been completed, and a three-judge panel was about to rule; but three weeks before their decision was due, someone released a cloud of sarin....of the three judges, all of whom were sleeping in the affected area, all required treatment, and one was hospitalized. There has been no decision to date. (Van Biema 1995: 24)168
A third account, however, while stating that Aum "had large stores of chemicals in Matsumoto," attributed the motive for the earlier attack to "the sect's anger at a Matsumoto judge who ruled against Asahara in a lawsuit" (Reid 1995a).
Whatever the truth of the Aum role, the attack on the Tokyo subway system had a major impact on Japan's national psyche and international repercussions as well. In its aftermath, Japanese social commentators were quoted as saying that the attack had produced a "national crisis" and "fundamentally altered the mood of Japanese basking in economic success and sure their society was free of the crime that curses the West" (Moosa 1995c)169. Certainly, the scale of the police investigation and the magnitude of enhanced security measures that followed was unprecedented for Japan. Immediately after the attack, some 300 detectives were assigned to the case. Several thousand police with specialized assistance from the military were involved in the massive raids on cult facilities that ensued. According to one report on 20 March: "The army mobilised anti-chemical warfare units throughout the country in a precautionary move" (Moosa 1995d). The day after the attack, the Tokyo subway reported 30 per cent fewer passengers than normal for a holiday (Moffett 1995e). It was soon reported that subway officials had earmarked $11.1 million for new security cameras at nearly 150 stations in the Tokyo system (Reid 1995b). On 30 March, a masked gunman shot and seriously wounded the chief of the National Police Agency, responsible for the overall investigation. This was followed by a telephone call to a television network threatening other senior officials unless the investigation of Aum was halted (Moffett 1995f)170.
The government almost immediately came under criticism for having failed to move sooner against Aum Shinri Kyo or to solve the earlier cases of sarin poisoning. In elections on 9 April 1995, independents won the governorships of Tokyo and Osaka, by one account "suggesting voters had decided to give a judgment on [Prime Minister] Murayama's handling of recent tragedies such as...the Tokyo subway gas attack." It was noted that the Murayama administration had "seen its approval ratings slump after," among other things, the "lack of progress in police investigations into the Tokyo subway attack" (Eckert 1995b). This appeared to be confirmed in a public opinion poll reported on 17 May in which "support" for the Murayama government had dropped by 4.6 percentage points since a previous poll in March, while the rate of "disapproval" had risen by 4.2 percentage points (to 51.4%, the highest since the coalition had come to power in June 1994)-attributed in part to "poor leadership in the government's response to" the 20 March attack (Kyodo 1995n). Meanwhile, the Japanese Parliament rushed through legislation prohibiting the manufacture, possession and disbursement of toxic chemicals as chemical weapons171.
Prior to the elections, although the Parliament was in a de facto recess, the House of Councilors Budget Committee met on 3 April exclusively to deal with the Tokyo terrorist incidents. Home Affairs Minister Hiromu Nonaka, head of the National Public Safety Commission, indicated he would resign if the cases were not solved. Education Minister Kaoru Yosano suggested that Aum Shinri Kyo might be disbanded if found guilty172. The Public Security Investigation Agency, Japan's domestic intelligence organization, had reportedly set up a special task force to investigate Aum, and was considering applying the Subversive Activities Prevention Law against it (although this would apparently require a determination that its activities had a political motive) (JTW 1995c). A couple of weeks later, Justice Minister Isao Maeda announced that the government was considering allowing police to conduct wiretapping and "sting" (decoy) operations (previously permitted only in serious drug trafficking cases) in order to prevent similar terrorist attacks (Reuters 1995t)173. Finally, the Aum case seemed certain to strengthen the position of those arguing for a more effective Japanese intelligence-gathering apparatus generally.174
On 4 April, Finance Minister Masayoshi Takemura said that his ministry was considering reviewing the preferential tax system granting registered religious organizations a broad range of tax benefits. Health and Welfare Minister Shoichi Ide suggested revising the Law for Control of Poisonous and Powerful Agents to make it possible to obtain information concerning the production and distribution of poisonous chemicals, and possibly to restrict their quantities as well (Mainichi Daily News 1995d). On 11 May, the Mainichi Shimbun reported that Prime Minister Murayama was considering resigning in the face of a number of crises, including "security worries over poison gas terrorist attacks" (Reuters 1995aa).
Another Japanese institution significantly affected by the Aum case was the military (the Self Defence Forces, or SDF). On the one hand, they were lauded for their assistance to police in providing chemical protective gear, training, and manpower in the aftermath of the 20 March incident175. On the other hand, however, as a result of the fact that some of their members had joined Aum and engaged in illicit activities on its behalf, allegedly including warning of the initial mass police raids, the SDF came under severe criticism as well176. Five officers were dismissed from the forces in May for their involvement with Aum177. Opposition parties demanded the resignation of Defence Minister Tokuichiro Tamazawa, who admitted to "insufficient supervision," reprimanded senior officials and commanders, and took a voluntary cut in pay (Reuters 1995ag).
Aum leader Asahara had prophesied from hiding that an event would take place on Saturday, 15 April, "that will make the Kobe earthquake seem as minor as a fly landing on one's cheek" (Yoshikawa 1995). In response, the police mounted the largest security operation ever carried out in Japan, involving about 100,000 officers, or more than a third of the national total. Some 130 facilities owned by the cult were raided on 14 April, while two large shopping centres in downtown Tokyo announced that they would not open the next day. One report described Tokyo that Saturday as follows:
As police helicopters flew constant patrols over the city, police tightened security on public transport, department stores and stadiums while making spot checks on cars. An athletics meet for international schools was cancelled.
Residents said streets were quieter than normal as people stayed at home. Rumours that tap water could be poisoned prompted some nervous residents to rush to convenience stores for bottled water. (Ueno 1995a)
The same atmosphere continued the following day, as "scores of restaurants and stores" remained shut and guards stood on duty at major subway stations (Ueno 1995b). As it turned out, nothing untoward took place.
Later that month, fear of a possible chemical attack led to the mobilization of up to 60,000 officers throughout Japan at the start of a nine-day holiday period. According to one report, police would "man thousands of tourist spots across the nation, keeping a close watch on hotels, amusement centres, railway stations and underground shopping malls" (Ueno 1995c). On a lighter note, the director general of Japan's Economic Planning Agency, Masahiko Komura, complained that "Aum is a minus for the economy because everyone's glued to the television so they don't go out shopping" (Reuters 1995x)!178 Later, Komura attributed a slow-down in the Japanese national economy partly to the 20 March attack, on the grounds that it had "made people nervous to be in public" (Ottawa Citizen 1995j).
The Tokyo gas attack also created ripples abroad. Security was tightened in subway systems in a number of different cities, including New York, Washington, Milan, Rome and, especially, the South Korean cities of Seoul and Pusan (Roche 1995). Just two days after the Tokyo attack, there was a similar scare in Seoul when at least ten people were taken to hospital after "mystery gas fumes" leaked through several floors of a 19-storey office building. However, the following day it was announced that a backflow of carbon monoxide into a boiler vent had "probably" been responsible. Nevertheless, on 14 April, the South Korean authorities staged "stepped-up drills against possible chemical and biological warfare in Seoul and surrounding areas," in order "to make sure it was prepared for any incident like that on the Tokyo subway" (Reuters 1995p). The Seoul subway system was still on emergency alert a month after the Tokyo attack, the number of police officers on its patrol squad having been increased from 260 to 1,300 (Reuters 1995u).
Russian authorities soon began a crackdown on the estimated 30,000-member Aum branch in that country, and announced that "Russia was cooperating with Japan at a diplomatic level on the issue" (Poletz 1995a). Nevertheless, it was reported in the Japanese media that an unnamed top official close to President Yeltsin had headed the Russian branch and that, as a result, Asahara had been treated as a "VIP" while visiting Russia (T. Watanabe 1995). On 28 March, the daily Izvestia published a front-page story suggesting links between the sect and two prominent Russian politicians, Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov and former Russian parliamentary chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov. However, the Itar-Tass news agency "later issued a report saying neither man had any questionable connection with the sect" (Poletz 1995b; Stanley 1995)179.
On 2 April, two NPA officers flew to Moscow to gather information on the sect's activities there (Parry 1995) (they were to fly on to Germany for similar consultations afterward) (Kyodo 1995f). The following day, the chief spokesman of the Russian Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK), Alexander Mikhailov, reportedly "blasted the Japanese media for trying to implicate Russia in the attack" (Reuters 1995n). On 12 April, Kyodo news agency reported that the Aum Shinri Kyo had "approached Russian scientific authorities in 1992 and 1993 to seek laser and nuclear technologies."
Throughout April, reports persisted in the Japanese press of extensive ties between the sect and Russia. Aum was said to have used the "Russian method" (out of 100 possible ways) to manufacture its sarin, leading to speculation that "Russian experts may have shown their method to Aum followers" (Reuters 1995v)180. This prompted a rebuke from a leading Russian chemist that "It is clear to every chemical expert that there is no specific Russian, American or Japanese method of producing substances. The more so when the talk is about sarin, the production 'secrets' of which have long ceased to be a secret" (Valentin Fedorov, quoted in Solntsev and Yurkin 1995).
A Russian dual-purpose Mi-8 helicopter (elsewhere described as an Mi-17, or even an Mi-24) had been found at Aum's compound at Kamikuishiki, but the Russian news agency TASS cited a "well-informed source" to the effect that "none of the Russian aircraft export organisations had ever sold a helicopter of the Mi series to Japan" (Solntsev and Yurkin 1995). The Russian Air Force also denied reports that three Aum members had spent a month at a Russian Air Force base training to pilot the Mi-8 (Yurkin 1995)181. Similarly, there were reports that top Aum officials had received firearms training from Russian Spetsnaz (Special Forces) personnel in April, September and October of 1994 (Moffett 1995i). Finally, Japanese police reportedly confiscated memos from the sect indicating that it planned to buy tanks and submarines from Russia (Moffett 1995i).
Aum Shinri Kyo also maintained small branches in New York, Bonn, and Sri Lanka. On 25 March the FBI was reported monitoring the activities of the 100-member New York City branch, while it was revealed that "U.S. and Japanese law enforcement officials had shared information about the sect" (IHT 1995). The US also sent a five-member medical team to help treat the victims of the Tokyo attack, while the NPA sent two of its officers to the US to exchange information with the FBI about the activities of the New York branch (Kyodo 1995f). On 5 April, it was reported that the latter had acquired on a trial basis sophisticated chemical research software from two US companies-Tripos Inc. of St. Louis and Biosym Technologies of San Diego-less than a week before the Tokyo subway attack. After the attack, the software programs had been returned "voluntarily." The President and CEO of Tripos, John McAlister, was said to have "doubted the organization [Aum] had the software long enough to do anything substantial with it" and that "it was possible but very difficult to illegally copy the trial software." However, he did admit that "although the software is designed for therapeutic and long-range pharmaceutical research, it is possible to use it for lethal purposes" (Schwartz 1995).
In general, the Tokyo attack further spurred US interest in the subject of CB terrorism. US House of Representatives member Glen Browder of Alabama called for briefings by Pentagon and other officials on how the US would deal with a similar attack (Tharp 1995). In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton included among his proposals to strengthen domestic counter-terrorism two that were particularly germane to the subject: (1) amending the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 to permit military participation in domestic counter-terrorism where chemical and biological weapons were involved (not just where nuclear materials were involved, which was already allowed); and (2) extending existing bans on chemical weapons in gaseous form to solids and liquids (Reuters 1995w)182.
On 2 April, Sri Lankan police were said to be investigating the activities of their local branch of Aum Shinri Kyo, which had reportedly imported a quantity of sarin as a fertilizer (Reuters 1995m; Kyodo 1995b)! The police announced the following day that they had searched sect facilities for the substance but found nothing (Reuters 1995o).
One other international connection that at first appeared relatively innocent but later proved to be quite disturbing was the sect's purchase in 1993 of a remote sheep ranch, Banjawarn Station, in Western Australia near Leonora, variously described as being 400 or 745 miles northeast of Perth. In September 1993, two members of an Aum group arriving in Perth-including biochemist Seiichi Endo, later identified as the sect's "Health and Welfare Minister," and directly involved in sarin attacks-were arrested and fined $2,400 each for carrying dangerous chemicals on an aircraft, after customs officials found two black plastic containers of hydrochloric acid labelled "hand soap" in their luggage. In addition, Aum had imported two large crates of chemicals and equipment (including "a few test tubes and laboratory gear"), ostensibly for gold- prospecting purposes. According to one report: "Customs officials confiscated the chemicals which, apart from hydrochloric acid, were listed as 'assorted chemicals, acids and chemical solutions' and were apparently not analysed at the government laboratories in Perth." The report added that "Australians who had dealings with the group were reported to be mystified as to why they paid so much to fly in chemicals and gear easily obtainable in Western Australia" (AFP 1995b).
The Aum property was evidently sold the following year; it was reported on 28 March 1995 that "the current owner told police he found some chemicals on the property" (Daily Yomiuri 1995m). However, another report cited the new owner as denying "media reports that a number of drums have been found on the property that might contain chemicals of the type used to make the sarin nerve gas used in the subway attack." The owner was quoted as saying: "There's nothing here but what we use all the time, like sprays and fuel" (Mainichi Daily News 1995h). On 11 May 1995, however, Australian Justice Minister Duncan Kerr confirmed that traces of methyl phosphonic acid (a sarin residue) had been found in soil samples and on the fleece of 24 dead sheep discovered in one corner of the property, suggesting that Aum may indeed have used its Australian property to test the gas used in the subway attack. Two Japanese police officers had arrived in Australia the previous week to join in the investigation there (Puchy 1995 and Reuters 1995ab).
Finally, on 24 March, the Sydney head offices of several Japanese businesses, including Japan Airlines, All-Nippon Airways, and the Japan National Tourist Organization, reportedly received identical letters signed "The Team," referring to the Tokyo subway attack and threatening that "Japanese airlines and businesses in Australia will be next" (Mainichi Daily News 1995h). The same report also referred to "Japanese companies around the world" having received similar letters that day.
Commentators throughout the world agreed that the Tokyo gas attack had been of major international significance. In the words of one, it had
...sweeping implications for the world's open societies: it shows that officials around the globe are ill-prepared to protect the public from malicious use of a huge range of lethal modern technologies.
In a quantum, tactical leap in terrorism, those responsible for the Tokyo attack have planted an idea and provided a roadmap for others to use poison gas against a civilian population.
The same author quoted Bruce Hoffman of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland: "We've definitely crossed a threshold. This is the cutting edge of high-tech terrorism for the year 2000 and beyond. It's the nightmare scenario that people have quietly talked about for years coming true" (Wright 1995).
Many commentators expressed fears that the Tokyo atrocity would lead to "copycat" attacks, in Japan and elsewhere. For example, Brian Jenkins, renowned RAND Corporation terrorism expert and now deputy chairman of Kroll Associates in New York, warned: "It breaks a taboo and has psychological import. Others will ask whether such tactics should be adopted by them. It is now more likely that at least some will say yes" (Smith and Suplee 1995)183. As Time magazine put it: "Now that nerve gas has been used on ordinary citizens, it may possibly happen again: the fact that terrorists are copycats and hungry for publicity makes it a near certainty" (Nelan 1995: 26). US intelligence officials expressed similar concerns at a press briefing in Washington on 11 May, one noting that "The demonstration effect of the Aum Shinri Kyo attack on the Tokyo subway could be considerable because this was the first very vivid, dramatic demonstration of what a group can do against a target like a major city subway system, in this case using chemical weapons" (Wolf 1995). Time quoted Marvin Cetron, president of Forecasting International Ltd. and co-author of the 1994 Pentagon report on mass destruction terrorism, as saying that a chemical or biological attack on the US was "increasingly likely, 'perhaps within the next five years'" (Nelan 1995: 29).
One, much more benign, international ramification of the Japanese incidents may be increased pressure on governments to ratify the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) (which has yet to enter into force, due to an insufficient number of ratifications). Article VII of the CWC explicitly requires that all parties enact legislation making it a crime for any persons under their jurisdiction to develop, produce, stockpile or use any chemical weapon agents184. As Spurgeon Keeny, President of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, put it: "If the CWC were now in force, the Japanese police would not have been confronted with the conflict between religious freedom and public safety" (Keeny 1995: 2).
"Copycat" threats and attacks appear to have followed even sooner than the commentators had anticipated. On 25 March, the US Embassy in Tokyo revealed that Japanese police were "investigating the anonymous distribution of leaflets throughout the public train and subway system [that] threaten further toxic gas attacks at 25 locations" (Ottawa Citizen 1995b). The following day, the Tokyo bureau of Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency received an anonymous telephone call threatening that it would be attacked with sarin (Daily Yomiuri 1995c). On 4 April "pungent smells" were reported at an apartment in Shinjuku, Tokyo, believed to be an Aum hideout, while residents complained of sore throats and eyes. Exactly one week later, 20 people complained of sore throats after a "foul odor" was detected at Yokohama Station on the Keihin Kyuko Line (JTW 1995g).
The next major attack, however, came in Yokohama almost exactly one month after the Tokyo subway incident. At about 1:00 p.m. on 19 April, an unidentified gas was released at three different places around Yokohama's main railway station, including the first floor of a department store, an underground passageway, and the second car of a train coming from Tokyo on the Keihin-Tohoku line that passed through the station. Over 500 people were taken to hospital complaining of stinging eyes, sore throats, nausea, coughs, and dizziness after inhaling a foul chemical odour, variously described as being like paint thinner or sulphuric acid (some accounts give 700 as the number of people affected). However, most were released soon after; unlike the Tokyo case, there were no deaths or serious injuries.
The authorities at first identified the gas as phosgene, but later retracted this statement and admitted that they could not identify it. The following day, an estimated 6,000 police officers interviewed witnesses and victims, checked videotapes for possible suspects, and searched for material evidence in the case. However, they made no arrests and, again unlike the Tokyo case, were unable to recover any direct evidence in the form of residues or dispensing devices used in the attack. No- one claimed responsibility and, once again, the Aum Shinri Kyo was quick to deny any connection. Some witnesses reported seeing a "white liquid resembling paint thinner" spilled on the ground by a young man (Williams 1995a). Others claimed to have seen "two suspicious men who were...using what looked like hidden spray cans or electric devices to spread the gas" (Moosa 1995e). However, the police at first would say only that they believed it likely that more than one person was involved (Moosa 1995e). Later, after closely examining the sequence of events, they concluded that a single person could have dispersed the gas while walking from the store through the passageway to the train (Daily Yomiuri 1995f).
A second attack hit Yokohama two days later, on 21 April, when 29 people were taken to hospital after being overcome by fumes on the third and fourth floors of the Vivre 21 department store opposite the main railway station at the height of the evening rush hour, just after 5:30 p.m.. The victims reported the same symptoms as those experienced in the previous incident, but their condition was described as being not as severe (H.Watanabe 1995). Once again, there were no deaths or serious injuries. Again, too, despite extensive searches by specially-equipped police and firemen, no clues were found as to the nature of the fumes or their source (Lloyd-Parry 1995b). However, authorities suspected that a man whom witnesses described as "smelling like pepper" had released the gas as he rode on escalators in the store (Moosa 1995f). Police were later reported to believe that pepper spray may have been used in this incident (Mainichi Daily News 1995b).
In another incident a few days later, on 25 April, an unidentified man poured a farm chemical known as chloropicrin from a bottle outside a restaurant in Maebashi, northwest of Tokyo. Twenty people suffered sore eyes and throats as a result. Four restaurant employees were treated in hospital, but none were seriously hurt (Reuters 1995q).
Finally, around 7:40 p.m. on Friday, 5 May, as hundreds of thousands of Japanese were returning from vacation, subway guards apparently averted by only seconds another mass-casualty incident in the Tokyo subway. Two plastic bags, one containing two litres of powdered sodium cyanide already in flames and another containing about 1.5 litres of diluted sulphuric acid, were found side-by-side on the floor of a men's washroom in Tokyo's busiest subway station, Shinjuku. The bags reportedly were arranged so that a reaction producing hydrogen cyanide (hydrocyanic) gas would have occurred if the flames from one bag had fully spread to the other. Four subway guards who doused the bags with water were overcome by fumes and briefly hospitalized, but otherwise there were no casualties. Chemical experts later estimated that the amount of gas that could have been released would have been sufficient to kill between 10,000 and 20,000 people (Williams 1995c and Daily Yomiuri 1995o). It was later reported that two condoms, one filled with an organic chlorate compound and the other with diluted sulphuric acid, had been rigged as a timed ignition device to make the sodium cyanide bag catch fire after a delay (Reuters 1995y). Kyodo News Service also speculated that "because the ingredients cannot be purchased easily, the incident was probably more than simply a copycat crime" (CP 1995b)185.
Other, far less serious incidents continued to be reported. On 6 May, 25 patrons in a bar in Omiya, Saitama Prefecture, suffered eye, nose, and throat pain from foul fumes described as being similar to those from burning red pepper. On 15 May, mysterious fumes overcame 20 people at the Shin-Yokohama subway station at about 9:10 p.m.. Three of those affected were hospitalized, but none in serious condition (Prybe 1995). Five days later, newspapers reported two cases of foul-smelling fumes detected in the vicinity of Japanese courthouses, including one at a building housing the high and district courts in Nagoya. However, no-one was hospitalized in these incidents (Reuters 1995ac). On 25 May, 12 people were hospitalized in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture (south of Tokyo) for treatment of eye, nose, and throat pain after inhaling mysterious fumes at a fitness club. Again, none of the victims, who reported a "red-pepper-like" smell, were in serious condition (Kyodo 1995k and Ottawa Sun 1995). Finally, on 13 June, two people were taken to hospital with sore throats after an "odd odour" was reported on a commuter train at Kashiwa, 20 km northeast of Tokyo. A small bottle containing a clear liquid was found in one train car, but the liquid was not immediately identified, and the two people affected did not require hospitalization (Reuters 1995aj).
No copy-cat attacks were reported outside of Japan in the aftermath of the 20 March subway incident186, but there was one chilling report of a threat against Disneyland in California. On 22 April, the Baltimore Sun reported that US federal authorities had foiled an apparent terrorist gas attack on the Disneyland amusement park over Easter. According to unnamed federal officials cited by the newspaper, two Japanese citizens associated with Aum Shinri Kyo had been picked up at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before Easter after Tokyo police alerted the FBI that they were flying in. The two were said to have carried written instructions on how to manufacture sarin and a videotape revealing details of plans for an attack. According to Disneyland executives, they had earlier reported receiving a threatening letter which federal authorities had "investigated and determined...was a hoax" (Reuters 1995r)187.
The threat had apparently been taken quite seriously, at least initially. According to the Sun, the case had resulted in eight members of a "special military team that deals with chemical agents," as well as two scientists from the Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command at Aberdeen and physicians from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, being sent to Disneyland to assess the danger on 13 April, three days before Easter188. It was later reported that "Security at the park was tightened. Visitors were searched as they passed through the park's gates over the April 14-16 Easter weekend....Investigators said they were concentrating on the possibility that the threats may have come from disgruntled former Disney employees" (JT 1995d). President Clinton was said to have subsequently referred obliquely to the case as a "possible terrorist incident" that the federal government had succeeded in preventing (Reuters 1995r). However, in Washington, the FBI and Army both refused to comment, while a Justice Department spokesman denied the report, saying "it was not unusual for Disneyland to receive anonymous threats of such attacks" (Reuters 1995s).
By the end of April 1995 Japanese police were reported to be "in the final stages of preparing charges against" the Aum Shinri Kyo (H. Watanabe 1995), planning to arrest twenty sect members for conspiracy to commit murder. According to the Yomiuri newspaper on 22 April, police had found at Kamikuishiki's "Seventh Satian" specially homemade plastic bags of the type used in the Tokyo subway attack, as well as "a liquid dispenser used to pour sarin into the bags and the same organic solvent, di-ethyl aniline," that was found in Tokyo (Moosa 1995f). According to the Yomiuri, the bags had been sealed three times using a special laminating machine found at an Aum building in Fuji city, just south of their main complex189. It was also revealed that the containers found in the Tokyo subway had consisted of "11 bags made of three layers of plastic which were pricked with a needle to release liquid sarin which vaporised," and that "No firms make these plastic bags" (Moosa 1995f).
On 23 April, the head of Aum's "Science and Technology Ministry," Hideo Murai, was stabbed to death in Tokyo, threatening to set back the investigation. However, the following day police arrested a senior member of the cult's "Home Affairs Ministry," Shigeyuki Hasegawa, on suspicion of storing chemicals without official permission. Hasegawa, the president of two pharmaceutical companies, was said to have been responsible for "purchasing toxic chemicals and medical equipment" (Kyodo 1995c).
On 24 April, it was reported that three of the chemical solvents found in large quantities at Kamikuishiki-a hexane, benzene, and petroleum ether-had been detected in the sarin residue found in the Tokyo subway. The same report cited police as saying that "petroleum ether and diethyl aniline were used to make the sarin easier to carry and become widespread" (Daily Yomiuri 1995j).
On 25 April, it was reported that an Aum member being questioned by police had admitted the group's involvement in the Tokyo subway attack and even named two members of its "Operations Unit" that had participated. A total of about 50 people had reportedly been involved in the operation (Sankei Shimbun 1995).Perhaps most significant, on 26 April, police discovered and arrested seven Aum members, reportedly "the core of the cult's secretive chemical squad," who had been hiding out in a secret underground room at Kamikuishiki. They included Masami Tsuchiya, described as Aum's "chief chemist"; and Seiichi Endo, the cult's "Health Minister," a genetics expert who had "developed a variety of drugs and chemicals and in 1993 reportedly purchased materials necessary for multiplying viruses" (Eckert 1995c).
On 9 May, police reportedly found a five-step "recipe" for producing sarin, matching the chemicals and laboratory equipment found at Kamikuishiki, in a notebook confiscated from "Construction Minister" Kiyohide Hayakawa, who had visited Russia extensively. According to the report, the notebook "also contained what looked like plans by the Aum to import Russian tanks and nuclear warheads" (Reuters 1995y). Also on 9 May, it was reported that police for the first time had named a specific leader of the sect-"Minister of Intelligence" Yoshihiro Inoue-as a possible suspect in the carrying out of the 20 March subway attack (Holley 1995b: F12). The next day came reports that another notebook belonging to Masami Tsuchiya implicated Asahara personally in the sarin-production scheme. Tsuchiya was said to have purchased a Swiss-made device used to control the temperature and pressure of chemicals for $250,000 in 1993. And another newspaper reported that traces of a rare chemical weapons antidote had been detected in the blood of Aum members detained by police (Reuters 1995z).
Still, however, by mid-May 1995, police had been unable to find "a single molecule" of sarin at Kamikuishiki, and had laid no direct charges against members of the group in connection with the Tokyo attack. Moreover, they continued to express fears that Aum had hidden away large quantities of sarin produced at Kamikuishiki, given the scale of the equipment found there. It was reported that just five litres of sarin had been released in the Tokyo subway attack. The Mainichi Daily News quoted one "unnamed expert" as saying that "Considering the amount of chemicals stored at the facility and the automated production system they have, it's hard to believe only five litres or so were produced."190 Another specialist told the newspaper: "It's more than likely that at least up to 100 litres of the gas are still being stored somewhere" (Moffett 1995g). On the brighter side, it was reported that "Some chemical experts believe that any nerve gas that Aum may have manufactured and hidden away is of rather low grade, and has only about a three-month life before its potency disappears" (Asiaweek 1995c).
On 11 May, it was reported that Masami Tsuchiya had admitted to police that Aum had made sarin the previous spring (Ottawa Citizen 1995c). And on 15 May, police reportedly arrested Yoshihiro Inoue, whom they suspected had commanded units carrying out the 20 March subway attack. Confessions made by arrested cult members the previous weekend had led them to believe that ten people carried out the attack, in teams of two, and that another ten had been directly involved in producing the gas. A notebook kept by Inoue included a record of timetables and numbers of passengers who used the three subway lines targeted in the attack (Ottawa Citizen 1995d). Police were said to have determined that two of Inoue's accomplices in the attack were among the almost 200 Aum members that had already been arrested on unrelated, mostly minor charges (Eckert 1995d).
Also on 15 May, police finally obtained a warrant for the arrest of Asahara and 40 of his followers for suspicion of murder or attempted murder in connection with the 20 March Tokyo subway attack. Early the following day, after a four-hour search, Asahara was arrested at the Kamikuishiki compound's "Sixth Satian." Sixteen of the 40 others named in the warrants were also detained, after police raids on 130 Aum locations around Japan. Ten of the 40 named-including Tsuchiya, Inoue, Hayakawa, and Endo-had previously been arrested on unrelated charges (JTW 1995e). As of 18 June, 37 of the 40 had reportedly been detained (Moffett 1995k). Just hours after Asahara's arrest, a parcel bomb exploded at the office of Tokyo Governor Yukio Aoshima, seriously injuring an aide. On 12 June, a "senior cult member" was reported to have admitted Aum's responsibility for this attack (Ottawa Citizen 1995f).
In the aftermath of Asahara's arrest, and despite his refusal to answer substantive questions about the 20 March attack (other than to continue proclaiming his innocence191), sensational revelations continued to emerge. Masami Tsuchiya was reported to have confessed to having made sarin on four or five occasions and having handed it over to unnamed Aum officials shortly before the subway attack (T. Watanabe 1995b); to having produced the gas used in both the Tokyo and Matsumoto attacks (Moosa 1995h)192; to having produced a total of 6 litres (1.3 gallons) of sarin (Ueno 1995d); and to having produced several other kinds of chemical warfare agents, including nerve gases VX, soman, and tabun, as well as hydrocyanic acid and mustard gas (AP 1995g). Seiichi Endo also reportedly admitted to having made sarin at Kamikuishiki (Toronto Globe and Mail 1995c), and to have worked on biological weapons as well (Asiaweek 1995d)193.
Ikuo Hayashi, the sect's "chief medical officer" already in custody, was reported to have confessed to planting sarin packets and then puncturing them with a nail-tipped umbrella in a subway car (T. Watanabe 1995b). According to another report, Hayashi told police that he and four other cult leaders at Kamikuishiki on 19 March had been instructed by "Science and Technology Minister" Hideo Murai to plant sarin in the subway. The five then joined five other Aum members, including "Home Affairs Minister" Tomomitsu Niimi, in actually carrying out the attack, under the supervision of "Intelligence Minister" Yoshihiro Inoue. According to this report: "Some arrested top Aum leaders have also hinted that cult leader Shoko Asahara gave the directive to Murai and other senior members to use sarin." The attack was said to have been intended "to divert police attention from other cases involving the cult, including its alleged kidnapping of a notary public," Aum having "sensed that police raids were imminent after the February 28 kidnapping of Kiyoshi Kariya." Police also reportedly characterized the attack as an "attempt...to confuse police authorities and turn their attention away from the cult" (JTW 1995h). (How the sect expected to divert attention away from itself by the use of sarin, with which it had previously been associated, was left unexplained!)
On 20 May, it was reported that Aum "Home Affairs Minister" Tomomitsu Niimi the previous year had unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Daisaku Ikeda, chairman of the Soka Gakkai (Japan's largest Buddhist group), by trying "to fire a sarin projectile" at him. According to the report: "Niimi bungled the attempt and instead poisoned himself....An accomplice took him to an Aum clinic in Tokyo where he was given a sarin antidote" (Reuters 1995ac). A similar case of a past attempted individual assassination was reported on 20 June. According to the Japanese news media, "senior cult leader" Akira Yamagata had told police that, using a syringe, he had sprayed an anti-Aum activist with VX gas in an attack on 4 January 1995. The victim had been hospitalized for two weeks afterwards but apparently survived (AP 1995m).
Most disturbing of all, on 25 May, it was reported that notebooks seized at cult facilities, together with the testimony of those arrested, revealed that Aum had planned a full-scale urban guerrilla war to overthrow the Japanese Government, timed to begin in November 1995. The attacks were to include the dispersal of sarin over various Japanese cities using remote-control helicopters (Eckert 1995e). A notebook belonging to Aum "Construction Minister" Kiyohide Hayakawa was reported to have contained plans to drop about 240 kg of sarin on Tokyo alone (Ottawa Citizen 1995g)194. At first, the police were reported to have described such plans as "too far-fetched to be taken seriously...'nothing more than the stuff of action comic books'" (Eckert 1995e). However, Home Affairs Minister Nonaka was later quoted as saying that Aum had "planned to create a pseudo-state and place Japan under its control," and that "If the massive police raids that began on March 22 [had been] delayed until around October, the existence of the Japanese nation would have been in the balance" (Ottawa Citizen 1995h).
On 19 May and again on 9 June, police reportedly discovered new secret underground chambers at Kamikuishiki for the storage of nerve-gas ingredients or agents (Ottawa Citizen 1995i and AP 1995g). This further fanned fears of a still-hidden Aum weapons stockpile. On 16 May, Prime Minister Murayama had warned: "We cannot deny that they may have produced more sarin and are still concealing it. We need to stay on the alert" (Pollack 1995). The following day, Home Affairs Minister Nonaka told the Diet: "They are not believed to have produced a large quantity of sarin, and most of it is believed to have been thrown away. But there is a possibility that a small amount of sarin still remains. And even such a small quantity can kill a large number of people" (Williams 1995d). On 25 May, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation reported that "police comparing evidence and testimony on the attack believe several kilograms of diluted sarin allegedly manufactured by the cult are still missing" (Ottawa Citizen 1995g)195. Other, unnamed "experts" were cited as suspecting that Aum had produced "at least 100 to 200 bags" of sarin that had not yet been found (Shukan Gendai 1995: 17).
On 5 June, Japanese newspapers reported that public prosecutors had identified the roles of the 41 suspects in the 20 March attack (including Asahara) as follows: Asahara, together with Kiyohide Hayakawa and Tomomasa Nakagawa, had decided to attack the Tokyo subways in order to "confuse police" in advance of their 22 March raids; Tsuchiya and Endo, together with seven other followers, had completed sarin production and packaging at Kamikuishiki on 19 March; ten followers led by Inoue had carried out the actual attack; Etsuro Ikeda and 15 followers had been responsible for building three large chemical plants and laboratories for producing sarin at Kamikuishiki; and Shigeyuki Hasegawa and two others had procured the necessary chemical ingredients using "dummy" firms (Moosa 1995i).
On 6 June, Asahara and six of his "top lieutenants" were charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the 20 March subway attack; nine others were charged with "preparation for murder." While Asahara continued to proclaim his innocence, police reported that "key followers" had testified that "He ordered cult members to produce the sarin nerve gas used in the attack, then met top disciples to order them to release it" (AP 1995i). Also on 6 June, police were reported to have concluded that-with the exception of the abortive 5 May attack on Shinjuku-"pranksters" had been behind all of the other mysterious gassing incidents in Tokyo and Yokohama over the previous two months (Reuters 1995ae). The next day, three more top Aum officials-Endo, Tsuchiya, and a physician named Tomomasa Nakagawa accused of filling plastic bags with sarin-were also indicted for murder and attempted murder. The indictment papers for Asahara reportedly charged that, "given advance knowledge of the impending [22 March] police raid," he had "ordered the nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways on March 20 as a pre-emptive strike against police" (Reuters 1995af).